My husband and I are here in Amherst, Massachusetts, for a short visit to our daughter Christine and her husband Neal. We arrived in this time when the fall colors are on their brightest. This is my first time to see the awesome beauty of the autumn season. Wherever I turn, the sight is glorious as the trees give out a magnificent display of their leaves in varying shades of orange, yellow, red and purple. I ran short of words to describe God’s wondrous work. At times, trees appear as if they were burning before my eyes. As the morning sun appears, it casts a magical glow on every tree I see. Even grasses and roadside bushes are awashed with bright colors as well. I feel like I am in a wonderland.
But why leaves have to change their color? I know that leaves have chlorophyll which turns sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy. But my little research in sciencemadesimple.com informed me that this energy called chloroplast contains three pigments: chlorophyll which is responsible for the green color, carotene for orange color, and xanthophyll for the yellow color. These pigments are permanently present in the leaves. When winter draws near, chlorophyll, which is sensitive to the cold weather, fades away, leaving the yellow and orange pigments to shine. This is also the reason why fall colors are more vibrant in other states in the US and in other temperate countries, where the temperature is a lot colder.
But what explains the red and purple leaves? In the cool autumn weather, a layer of cells is formed in the base of the leaf stalk which traps sugars in the leaves. These sugars react with the proteins in the cell sap and produce anthocyanin which gives off the purple and red color. But for leaves that turn somber brown instead, blame it to another pigment called tannin.
And so with the absence of chlorophyll in the leaves, the landscape becomes a magical display of color comparable to a giant painting that extends to the mountains and the rolling hills as far as the eyes can see. Only the brush strokes of the Great Painter can do this indescribable beauty.
My heart is already delighted that we can be with our children. But God gave more. He allowed us to see the exquisite beauty of the fall colors. As sinful creatures, we only deserve to see drab and gray surroundings. But because God is good, He paints the landscape with glorious color and creates unimaginable beauty. God has made everything beautiful in its time. Praise be the Lord!