September was warm, in the eighties most of the month. Leaves stayed green although they did yellow a bit showing that fall colors lurked just below the surface.
Killing frost hit suddenly a week early in October. The leaves ignored the warning.
Not all of them ignored this cold. The dogwoods turned purple. The black walnuts dropped their leaves a little faster. The far hillside looked more yellow.
Several more frost have whitened the mornings. Finally the trees are taking notice.
I read somewhere that day length was what triggered fall colors. Watching the trees here I have serious doubts about this.
The trees do change color over the growing season. Spring has a lighter, more vivid green. Summer has an intense darker green. Fall brings in a dryer, yellower green.
But these are all shades of green. Very few plants show fall colors as long as the temperatures stay warm. Poison ivy turns red even before frost.
Frost brings out the yellows and reds. The colors don’t show overnight. I’m watching the hillside trees.
First the yellow deepens. It’s as though the trees are discussing what to do next.
A week or so later the trees seem to come to consensus. Oranges creep in.
Over three or four days the entire hillside turns into a riot of fall colors. These will hold until a deep killing frost, high winds or storms knock the leaves off the trees en masse. The leaves do drift off a few at a time before this and would slowly leave the trees bare without the bigger pushes.
This hillside of mostly oaks is easy for me to watch as it is opposite the barn door. The goats have taken to staying out late and have to be hunted down and encouraged to come in. The late blooming grasses, falling leaves, acorns and persimmons are too good to leave, it seems.
I walked down the creek bed and out into the pastures. Perhaps I was late doing this as the hickories are brilliant yellow. Perhaps I should take more time away from settling the garden for the winter and go looking at the fall colors as they won’t be here nearly long enough.
Enjoy Ozark seasons in photographs and haiku in “My Ozark Home.”