by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
The changing of seasons from summer to autumn always bring about a wonderful transformation that makes my heart light and warm – leaves are starting to fall, cool breeze is blowing, and the vivid greens of summer give way to the reds, oranges and yellows of autumn. But how does this wonderful display of nature happen?
Different natural chemicals within trees produce different colors of leaves. During the summer months, trees intentionally fill their leaves with chlorophyll, the chemical the produces green color in leaves, in order to generate as much energy as possible.
Photosynthesis, the process of turning sunlight into energy, is most efficiently processed with green leaves, a vital key to growth of trees. When autumn comes and with temperature dropping, production of chlorophyll stops and the levels of this chemical are reduced, leaving an abundance of carotenes which are yellow.
This yellow, which is in the leaves all year but superseded by the green, finally gets a chance to show itself in autumn. If the temperature stays above freezing, the chemical called anthocyanins are produced, bringing about reds and pinks.
In springtime, a layer of cells called the abscission layer is formed where a leaf grows out from a branch. During this season, the tree hormones and chemicals are fairly steady, and this layer allows energy from the leaves to be passed into the branch and trunk to be stored.
In autumn, with the cooler temperatures and shorter days, the production of one hormone called auxin reduces, putting a strain on the abscission layer and causes the bond between leaf and branch to weaken.
Eventually, the strength of this connection is weakened enough that the wind will blow the leaf away.
Autumn and life
Autumn is my most loved season. It displays my favorite colors. It brings relief from the scorching heat of summer. But at the same time, it gives the signal that the dreaded winter is coming.
Gloomy and piercing cold days are just around the corner. For farmers, it is a season of harvest and rest from labor. It is a time of letting go of the abundance that the spring and summer bring, a preparation for the cold, dark and difficult days ahead.
It is the same with life. The world is experiencing an autumn season, bracing for more difficult days ahead brought about by the different crises the world is facing – economic, political, social, environmental, energy and so much more.
As colors change, our lives slowly transform from bright to dim, from plenty to empty, from light to heavy. Just as leaves are falling from trees, the challenges of life are stripping us of things that used to give us comfort and convenience. Life is getting harder by the day, but we are still filled with hope.
As I look at autumn’s beauty, I can’t help but praise God for His faithfulness during the past seasons- the pinks and purples of spring, and the greens of summer.
The three months to gaze at and enjoy the beauty of autumn’s red, oranges and browns do not seem to suffice as the greys and whites of winter come but it gives me comfort that seasons constantly change.
After winter comes spring, after spring comes summer, and autumn comes again. Life may be hard at the moment but it’s just temporary. Winter will end and life will blossom again.
Let me share with you my song for the season. It’s called “Tend” by Emmy Rose of Bethel Worship.
In the landscape of my life
You don’t rush through any season
You always take Your time
A careful hand, a gentle guide
You take what’s dead away
And You prune what’s running wild.
So be the gardener of my heart, tend the soil of my soul
Break up the fallow ground, cut back the overgrown
And I won’t shy away, I will let the branches fall
So what You want can stay
And what You love can grow.
Through the winter, I’m still alive
What You’ve planted in the dirt
Is ever reaching to the light
You prepare me for darkened times
You’ll sustain what You have started
And You’ll teach me to abide
And just like the song “Leaves’ by Ben & Ben, leaves will soon grow from the bareness of trees, all will be alright in time. Indeed, all will be alright in time. So here I am, reflecting on life as I gaze at autumn’s beauty, looking out as leaves fall and colors change slowly.
by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan