Writers & Readers Common Grounds

Fall: Chameleon in all of Us

Chemical of the month? Cholorphyl, you say.  

Actually, no, because cholorphyl depends on sunlight and warmer temperatures. What happens in the fall is colder temperatures destroy Cholorphyl and other chemicals step in like Carotene and Anthocyanins, the former produces yellows, the latter blues and blue green. A reaction of Anthocyanins and sugars, depending on the light, produces red leaves.


If there exists a system of color in poetry, like in nature, it has been described as a "moving army of metphors" that can be detached from reality. While Thoreau regarded autumn as a season of unparalleled vibrancy, Dickinson used fall as a backdrop for longing and waiting in a season devoid of color.


Thoreau wrote in "Autumn" Sept 25, 1854, "I suspect that I know what the brillancy of the autumnal tints will depend. On the greater or less drought of the summer. If the drought had been uncommingly severe, as this year, I should think it would so far destroy the vitality of the leaf that it would attain only to a dull, dead color in autumn; that to become brilliant in autumn, the plant should be full of sap and vigor to the last."


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