I know some towns and cities create “parades” of objects, such as the painted snowmen in North Conway, New Hampshire, or the painted bears that lined the streets of Belfast, Maine, a few years ago.
But this year, the northern red oaks are creating a parade of their own–all natural.
I have to assume that they’ve held the parade on an annual basis, but this is the first time I’ve stood along the route and paid attention.
Up until now, I’ve always thought of oak leaves as being green all summer long–which they are 🙂
And then, in my mind’s eye, they turned yellow-brown
before falling to the ground, where they sported a completely brown coat.
There seemed to be no redeeming value in these leathery leaves. And then I noticed that the tips of each lobe is bristly. And learned that they are marcescent, meaning some leaves, especially at lower levels, remain on trees throughout the winter. For most broad-leaf trees, the abscission layer that separates the leaf and its twig forms in the fall. Consequently, the leaf is shut off from its nutritious supplies and it drops to the ground. This layer doesn’t form fully in marcescent leaves. Why? Who knows, but it’s worth a wonder.
Here’s the other thing worth wondering about–their autumn display.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear these were maple trees, rather than a red oak beside a beech.
Is it just this year, or have they always been decked out in such vivid colors?
Side by side, there is variation.
They light up the sky
and make their own statement in the array on the ground.
Even in puddles, their glory shows forth.
As the moon rises, they dance in the breeze. Day is done, but the parade isn’t over yet.
Oak leaves–worth a wonder.