I just spent a perfect weekend in my hometown, North Bay, Ontario.
Not only did I eat my weight in food, down 2 or 10 beer, and spend time with my lovely family, I also got to fully experience the fall colours.
Living in Toronto, one doesn’t really get the full effect. There are trees, of course, however they seem to be very spread out. One bright red tree can be gorgeous, but it can’t compete with a whole forest full of yellow, orange and red beauties.
My sister and I headed up to our aunt’s farm with our cousin, her husband and their two little girls. We decided to head out into the trails in the bush on the 4-wheelers so we could get to the sugar maples. This area of the woods is important in the spring, as my uncle produces a very delicious maple syrup every year.
On the way, we stopped several times to take pictures and stroll around. I found an old bear skull, probably left by a neighbour who’d shot a few problem bears in the past.
But I digress. The foliage was the main event. The sugar maples were the crowning glory. It was magnificent. But instead of typing thousands of words, here’s some pictures:
The really amazing thing is, the pigments that produce the yellow and orange colours are actually always present in the leaves. During the growing seasons of spring and summer, the leaves are dominated by chlorophyll, which gives them the green colour. Carotenoids, which are yellow or orange, are always present, but in lower numbers. As the sunlight dwindles towards the end of summer and into fall, the chlorophyll begins to decrease, and the carotenoids are revealed in full force. Carotenoids are also present in carrots, corn, canaries, daffodils, egg yolks and bananas, among others.
The most explosive and awe-inspiring colour, in my opinion, is fiery red:
The pigments responsible for this colour, anthocyanins, are not present all year round. They begin to develop during the late summer in the sap of the leaf cells. When the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colourations usually develop. Anthocyanins are also found in cranberries, red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and plums.
At any rate, nothing compares to the beauty of this time of year in the north. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a summer person. When it’s 35 degrees outside and everyone else is melting and complaining, I’m finally getting comfortable. Fall usually only serves to remind me that winter is coming, and that makes me feel very tired just thinking about it.
Fall in Toronto is generally overlooked as a brief transition stage between summer and winter. Patios are beginning to close up, or put out heaters. Legs go back into hiding. It begins to become difficult to know how to dress, so vast is the difference in temperature from morning to night.
But fall is also a deliciously cozy time of year. The air is fresh and clear, tinged occasionally with that smokey wood stove smell. Sweaters that have been hibernating all summer are being woken up. And the trees are ablaze with colour. I’m beginning to see the appeal. I could maybe fall in love with fall.
Just don’t tell summer I said that.