Influenced By the One That Came Before

Summer’s green is wearing thin. Before long, it will give way to the colors of autumn.

Some years, summer’s heat and its green march across the lawn arrive with a suddenness that suggests we’ve gone straight from winter to summer with no stop for spring. This doesn’t happen with autumn. Thanks to the turning of the leaves when summer fades to fall, it’s a transition impossible to miss.

Even though the leaves turn every year, even though it’s impossible to miss, it doesn’t always look the same.

Some seasons the trees along the roads and in the woods wear a regal assortment of gold, russet, and scarlet, intense pigments as invigorating as the crisp autumn air. Other years they cloak themselves in a faded array of the matronly hues of serviceable cloth.

The difference between the two lies in the weather.

During the growing season, the chlorophyll that colors the leaves green is constantly replenished by a transaction between sun and tree. As fall ushers in short days, a weak spot forms between the branch and the leaf. This weak spot, known as the abscission layer, prevents any exchange between the leaf and the tree. Chlorophyll restoration ceases and the leaves lose their green color.

The most vibrant displays result from a summer of abundant rain followed by an autumn of dry, sunny days with cool, frost-free nights. When low temperatures arrive after the abscission layer develops, it hastens the loss of chlorophyll and causes fall’s orange and yellows to arrive early.  At the same time, the brilliant days and chilly nights enhance the reds and purples which lend autumn its splendor.

After a dry growing season, trees shed their leaves prematurely. They drift to the ground before decreasing daylight diminishes the production of the chlorophyll mask and fall’s yellow and orange are revealed by the fading green. An untimely freeze hinders the leaf’s ability to make the intense red and purple pigments that give the forest vista depth.

The colors of autumn are influenced by the season which came before.

Sometimes, during a stretch of difficult days, a friend will tell me, or I will tell her, or we’ll tell one another, “It’s a season,” and look forward to the day it will pass and the situation will be different.  But when it gives way, when whatever has been coloring life fades and the new season is revealed, it doesn’t seem quite right. It lacks some brilliance. It isn’t as vibrant as expected.

I wonder if, like the colors of the leaves, our seasons are influenced by the ones which came before.

Perhaps there was a drought of sleep, money, or friendship. Or a deluge of opportunities and obligations. Or the chill of hardship, disease, or death. Or maybe just too much cloud cover for too long.

It takes time for the effects of such seasons to pass, time for the rain to penetrate the parched soil of our lives or the flood of too much to recede, time to feel the warmth and brightness of the sun on heart and mind, body and soul.

It takes time and I find it hard to wait. Still, it’s worth it, to count on the nature of seasons, to believe that a new one is one the way, to remember that as one color draws back another will be revealed, and that, while it might not be at all what I expected, there is a time for everything. Every single thing.

Sharing this week at  Small Wonders and Thought Provoking Thursday.

7 thoughts on “Influenced By the One That Came Before

  1. kchripczuk says:

    It’s been SO DRY here this summer, I’m wondering what fall will be like. I’ve been learning to take each day more gently, the ups and downs, knowing that things can change so quickly. Thanks for sharing!

  2. mamabirddanielle says:

    A little science lesson + beautiful writing = awesomeness squared

    Trust me, that math is correct 😉

    And I’m grateful for your reminders that seasons come to an end. Parenting is one longer season that begs to be enjoyed while it’s here, yet it’s filled with shorter and harder parenting seasons which have the potential to distract me from the beauty to be found in it all. I need to be purposeful and careful to pay attention.

    • Natalie says:

      When it comes to the fact that seasons end, I need all the reminders I can get–hence the frequent posts. It’s so often on my mind! And that season of parenting…it is long, with mini-seasons throughout. So many are taxing. Being aware of the need to be careful and pay attention is a huge win in my book.

      Thanks for the math lesson. I knew you were big into grammar. The math facet is a new surprise.

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