Photosynthesis is as natural to plants as eating is to humans. In fact, there are some similarities with several significant exceptions. One is that plants seldom overeat. They take what they need, water from the ground through their roots, CO2 from the air and sunlight to turn water and CO2 into oxygen and glucose. The way they do this is called photosynthesis, which means literally “putting together with light.”
Chlorophyll helps make it all happen and is what gives deciduous tree leaves their green color in the summer. During winter, there is not enough light or water and the trees will rest and live off the food they stored during the summer. As they begin the transition, as one who lives where I see this magnificent color change into yellow and orange, I am amazed and delighted every year, this year just as much as ever.
Plants and trees are very smart. As plants grow, they shed older leaves and grow new ones. This is important because the leaves become damaged over time by insects, disease and weather. The shedding and replacement continues all the time. We do the same, we let go of the old and grow something new for that which we leave behind.
The leaves on our hundreds of cottonwoods here in the Southwest become brilliant orange. The brightest colors are seen when late summer is dry, and these coming Fall days are bright, sunny, and cool (low 40’s Fahrenheit) nights. Then trees make a lot of anthocyanin pigments. The pending frost and freeze will hasten this process, the daylight diminishes, the leaves will turn brown, fall off the trees and most of the plant activity we will not see for it is going on underground.
Lessons from nature abound. The rhythm and dance continue in their annual display in a riot of color. Here are some lessons to consider.
1 Eat what you need to sustain your vitality.
2 Save resources for leaner times.
3 Add some color to your life.
4 Figure out what you don’t need and let it go.
5 Prepare well for the next season.
6 Wait and don’t try to rush the process. Let it work.
7 Embrace and celebrate inevitable change.
8 Know that what is not seen is often more important than what is seen.
9 Stay warm, dry and safe.
10 Encourage growth in the younger species.