Thursday, October 22, 2009

When will they fall?

Today might be the last warm day of the year. The forecast is for temperatures to reach 75, but rain and cooler weather is predicted for tomorrow. The sky is already overcast. At Roundtop, specifically, and in the forest, in general, the temperature is always several degrees cooler than where the records are kept. It might reach 70 around the cabin, which is still a nice, warm day for late October.

I’ve been trying to decide if the progression of fall colors and leaf drop is ahead of schedule, behind or right on time. I’ve had several people tell me they thought the fall colors were late. I don’t think I agree. At the moment I’m going with the "on time" group.

To some degree, I pay less attention to when the leaves change color than I do to when they actually fall off. Once the leaves are down, I have a lovely view out my western windows to the mountains over there. I don’t have that view yet, though I can now sort of tell that there are mountains over there.

For several years, I could count on the leaves being down by October 31. Then that sort of drifted to November 2, then November 9 and in the last year or so the leaf drop wasn’t complete until mid-November. I tried to pin the difference on global warming or climate change. I don’t know if that’s accurate or just a convenient excuse.

When the leaves drop is affected by at least a couple of things. Everything from a season’s moisture to temperature to wind plays a part. At least one year when the leaves didn’t drop for what seemed to me like forever, the season was an unusually calm one, with little wind or rain to encourage the leaves to drop. The opposite was also true a few years prior to that one—wind and rainstorms were common that dry season, and the leaves came down early.

From the state of the leaves today, I don’t know that I can predict which it will be this year. The color change seemed to happening at the appropriate time. That gives me some hope that it won’t be mid-November before the leaves are gone. But a little wind wouldn’t hurt either.

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