|Snow on marcescent American beech leaf|
Crews make snow for 2-3 nights, then it rains and ruins it all. They make snow again for 2-3 nights and then it warms up and the newly-made snow melts. My weather forecast predicts rain and above freezing nights over the next few days. The crew needs temperatures below freezing by at least a few degrees for most of the night in order to make snow.
When crews make snow, the lights along the slopes are lit, and when they aren’t, all the lights are off. You would think I would see a big difference whether the lights are on or off, but most of the time I don’t. Over by my cabin, I get a fair amount of winter light from the night sky. It’s actually lighter at night in the winter without Roundtop’s lights than it is in the summer when all the leaves are on the trees.
Of course, a few leaves remain on the trees most of the winter. The American beech tree retains many of its leaves right up until the dead ones are pushed off the twigs by the new growth in spring. A few years ago I learned this is called marcescence, which means the leaves wither but don’t fall off.
Theories abound about the purpose of marcescence, but from what I’ve read nobody really knows why some leaves don’t fall off. Certain species, like beech, are more prone to it than other species. Younger trees and the lower branches also seem more likely to display marcescence.
Still, the vast majority of the trees have lost all their leaves, and that lets the light of the wintry night shine all the way down by my cabin.