Fall Color

The Splendor Of Fall Color

By Frank Niccoli

This is my favorite time of year.  The mad rush of summer is waning and you can visibly notice the changes.  The greatest show on earth is just starting, autumn color. Have you ever wondered why some years are better than others for autumn color?  Oh, sure, you will always have the shades of brown and yellow, but it is the reds and the violets blended in with the yellows and browns that add the fire that truly defines the beauty of autumn color.

So what weather conditions favor the memorable fall color years from the good-but-not-so-great years?  The reds and violets are favored by warm days followed by cool nights.  If during the day the leaves can still photosynthesize while the chlorophyll content is slowly declining, then the reds are enhanced.  The lower the light intensity, the more washed out the colors will be. Rain is the laundry that bleaches out true vivid colors because of reduced photosynthesis. We are lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area because the ocean has a moderating effect on our climate, delaying the rains, providing warms days and slowly cooling nights.  This enhances and prolongs the magnificent displays of color changes.

There are so many great viewing areas.  In Placerville the redbuds are a must-see.  How about Lake Tahoe for spectacular views and fall color?  Another must-see is the Aspens changing in the eastern Sierra.  Convict Lake, McGhee Creek Canyon, Sherwin Creek Road, and Rock Creek Lake are just a few areas that will have the magnificent Aspen fall color.

This is the time of year that taking a breather is a must.  It has been a hot and long season, and it is time that we abide by our clocks, change our pace, and view the wondrous show that fall color gifts to us.