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     Volume 5 Issue 123 | December 8, 2006 |

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The Wonders of Nature
Fall Foliage and the Changing of Colours

Azizul Jalil

Indian Summer in the Washington Metropolitan area came as usual in November this year. The same was true in New England, and both areas were awash with colour. Indian Summer is a short period of fair weather and mild days. The American Indians called it the special gift of their favourite god. According to one legend, the name Indian Summer was coined by the settlers to denote the period when, due to good weather, the Indian attacks against them increased.

It had cooled down considerably in October and early November, particularly during the night and early morning. But as in most years, it got warm in the last fortnight of November, when daytime temperature sometimes rose to 70 degree Fahrenheit. This is harvest time and for celebration of the bounties of nature. A more visual and striking change is the gradual transformation of the foliage in the trees and shrubs from green to a magnificent array of hues-from yellow to golden. In many other cases, one would see a variety of unearthly shades and colours-brown, orange, red, maroon and crimson. However, as their name imply, the evergreens like the azaleas and the larger trees such as spruce, pine, hemlock etc. remain as green as before, providing a fine contrast.

In the New England state of Massachusetts, where I lived for a year four decades ago and in Connecticut, from where I have just returned after a fortnight's visit to my son's house, the roadside trees and forests have become strikingly beautiful. I had noticed such colours in Ottawa, Canada as well during a visit a few years ago, though it comes earlier compared to down south in USA. One feels as if landscape artists have painted huge canvases of impressionistic paintings for the delight of people passing by. The trees about to shed their leaves for the coming winter appear to defy the season. One last time, they show off their grandeur by wearing attractive gold-brown-red-crimson coloured dresses of shrunken and dying leaves. It is a scene of awesome beauty and bliss, which will flash in your mind's eye for many months and years. At least it does in mine.

The trees assume such vivid and glorious colours in the fall, particularly in the north-eastern part of North America. Colour in the leaves come from chlorophyll, a green substance. Most trees have reds and yellows in their leaves. But the green conceals the other colours. In the fall (autumn), the chlorophyll in the leaves of many trees breaks down. The leaves die but before they drop to the ground, they reveal their hidden reds and yellows. Leaves of some trees also develop scarlet, purple and other reddish hues.

I tried to capture this happy time of nature's wonders- a real scene of unparalleled beauty, through the lens of my regular (not digital) camera, which I am delighted to share here with the readers.

Azizul Jalil writes from Washington.



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