Beware the Fool’s Autumn
Never heard of a Fool’s Autumn before, so when it hit the news headlines being delivered to my desktop I had to have a look.
Turns out it’s a witty reference to a phenomenon said to be arising from a dry summer and lack of rainfall, resulting in trees having their leaves turn autumnal in colour and fall, as they suffer from lack of water. According to records, this is the driest summer in Scotland since 2003.
As an aside, it will be interesting to see if this is followed by dreadful wailing from the farmers with poor crops, who were wailing last year, as it was so wet the crops were reported to be rotting in the fields (cue compensation.)
It has been notably wet in recent years, something I noticed as I walk to and from work. Ten years ago I was doing this wearing a jacket or suit, and seldom needed to wear a waterproof jacket or carry an umbrella. I never really noticed until more recent years, when the roads deteriorated and I found I was regularly having to dodge showers thrown up as traffic hammered through water-filled potholes.
Things have been much more pleasant this year, as the rain has let up. That’s not to say it hasn’t been raining, it has, but unlike previous years, this has been what I would refer to as ‘normal’ rain, by which it mean the rain has not been coming down as if someone was standing overhead and throwing bucket of water on me. I can make it to the shops (around 2 miles or so) without arriving soaked through and dripping, and with the water seeping through my clothes. Under ‘normal’ rain, I might be wet, but will not have had the weight of the rain driving through my clothes, and what I have collected can be shaken off, even if I’ve been walking through it for 40 minutes or so. It’s a nice change.
Over the past few weeks, I had already noticed how the leaves were already beginning to collect in the verges, even though it was only August, which has to be early for autumn, not considered to start until September 21, according to the calendar. The discarding of leaves at this early stage is the tree’s method of saving water. A proper fall of leaves to mark autumn follows fading sunlight and cold temperatures, a combination which sees leaves lose their chlorophyll, the source of their green pigmentation, leaving the yellow and red pigments.
The Woodland Trust Scotland is asking for people to help record the effect by recording the colours of the leaves on the trees in local parks. Data recorded by the Trust over the past ten years suggests that trees across Scotland on average show the first signs of genuine autumnal colouring during late September, with the full effect appearing in mid-late October.
The Trust is asking the public to use its VisitWoods website to find their nearest wood and record dates of true autumn colour – vivid reds, golds and browns.
See also Nature’s Calendar
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