By Kaitlyn Blansett, Cope Environmental Center
Centerville IN 9/18/17
This fall, I’d like to encourage you to venture outdoors and take a hike! Sure, the air might be getting a little crisper and the days are getting shorter, but there has never been a better time to be outdoors.
Fall is magical because of all the amazing changes taking place in nature! No one has to tell the leaves to change or the birds to migrate—it’s something that happens without any human intervention. That is a beautiful thing!
What sorts of changes should you be expecting? And why are they happening?
The most telling sign that fall has arrived must be the changing colors of the leaves. During the summer, the green leaves turn sunlight into sugar for the tree to use. We all remember photosynthesis, right? Sunlight + carbon dioxide + water= glucose + oxygen + water. This amazing process is happening day in and day out, in the chloroplasts, which contain, among other things, chlorophyll and carotenoids.
Chlorophyll is prevalent in the summer. It absorbs violet and red colors and reflects green. Carotenoids, on the other hand, absorb most colors on the blue end of the light spectrum. They reflect reds and oranges. Generally, chlorophyll masks carotenoids in leaves. However, as fall leads into shorter days with less sunlight, the quantity of chlorophyll is less, revealing the refection of the carotenoids. That’s why leaves change color!
Chlorophyll and carotenoids are both important in the process of photosynthesis. However, chlorophyll is directly involved in the process, while carotenoids just pass the sunlight energy from the sunlight onto the chlorophyll.
Another sign of fall is the migration of different animals! What might you see moving about out in Wayne County? Ruby-throated hummingbirds! They are green with a white breast and—you guessed it!—a red throat. These little guys spend August and September moving south for the winter. They will be anywhere between Mexico and Panama until spring. Don’t fret—they will be back around the first week of April!
Take a walk outdoors this fall and experience the beauty of natural changes! Where are some places to walk in Richmond? Try Cope Environmental Center, Hayes Arboretum, the Cardinal Greenway, the Gorge, or one of our many lovely city parks!
Karole Passmore is a freelance writer who enjoys writing articles and short stories, interviewing local people, and researching non-fiction subject matter– preferably historical. Graduate of RHS, Ivy Tech Richmond, and Earlham College– with a major in History, Karole has spent most of her life in Wayne County and enjoys the quaint atmosphere of a small town.
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