Fall has fallen

I’m afraid it’s mostly over: the trees around me are mostly skeletal, and we’ve just got boring piles of dead brown leaves on our lawn. But you can browse through photographic travelogue of Autumn in the US, at least, and pretend you got out to see the fall colors.


(Also on Sb)


  1. Sean Boyd says

    We’re still nice and (ever)green here in Tacoma…there are a few trees ’round the neighborhood changing color, though. Someday, I’d love to make a trip back east in the fall, just to see the color in person.

  2. HappyHead says

    Mostly maple trees around where I live, so during spring and summer we get a fair mix of purple and red on the trees too.

    As for the whole fall thing, I briefly recall being outdoors while the sun was up a few weeks ago and noticing that it was more brown and red. This morning when I left for work, most of the trees were at that “almost leafless” stage. Fortunately, I’m at the end of the street where the wind blows all of the leaves down-street to some other yard.

  3. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Just starting to turn here in Charleston. Went up to NC a coupel weekends ago to shoot some color and storms had mostly blown everything down where I was.

  4. Algernon says

    Well that’s not Texas. One of the things I hate about this place is the total lack of Autumn. I mean the season itself. We don’t have it in this area at all.

  5. MudPuddles says

    PZ, dear oh dear… you are so wrong. Piles of dead brown leaves are very very far from boring… they are the most exciting thing about this time of year in the temperate world. In fact, wherever you are, they are a potent symbol of our dependence upon biodiversity. They are nothing less than the foundation of next year’s leaf bursts, blossoms, bird song and bug flights. From their spectacular-then-fading colours to their dry windblown patter to their rich, earthy, musty, mouldering smells, leaf falls are an evocative reminder of the beauty of evolution and the incredible interplay of chemistry, physics and biology which ecosystems comprise. Sift through any pile of leaf litter and the top layers of soil underneath, and more often than not you’ll find a countless variety of microbes and invertebrates, whose services worldwide are the living resources upon which every human (and all other) life depends.

    Leaf litter is the blanket under which the ceaseless opera of nature’s savagery and beauty plays out – above and below ground, breathing and birthing, sex and murder, beauty and violence, dance and decay. A play of actors appointed by natural selection, working on a set of precious minerals constructed over aeons by earth’s mighty processes, random yet somehow nearly perfect, against a backdrop of each individual organism’s infinite web of motion, interdependence and interaction. Just look at any single one of those dead leaves – each one a perfect hub for the capture and processing of energy, a perfect engine for driving the growth of whatever tree or shrub it fell from, and by extension whatever species or process depends upon its main waste product – oxygen. An engine which – though now clapped out and discarded – brims with potential energy, waiting to be tapped into by the infinite variety. A packet of starches, sugars, proteins and salts delivered to earth to help keep the performance running all day and all night, all year, every year.

    I’m fortunate to have a native Irish woodland at the back of my garden. An oak tree has been shedding its thousands of solar panels on my lawn for the past few weeks. I usually work from home, and every day I take a break from my desk, come rain or shine, to go out and explore the biodiversity swarming within and beneath that dun carpet. The slimier it gets as winter approaches, the more exciting it gets. Right now in the lamp light outside my window, a badger is ploughing through it for worms, grubs and centipedes. By dawn it will be robins, thrushes, jays and dunnocks. The peach crowns of wooly milk cap fungus dot its surface – food for the red squirrels in the woodland later in the month.

    Leaf litter is never boring!

  6. Azkyroth says

    I’m glad we’re moving into the beginning of Half-Assed Fall/Spring here. Summer, Summer, and Summer were long enough. >.>

  7. Marta says

    Purest poetry, MudPuddles.

    Fallen leaves are at the very least, mulch. If you’re a gardener, you recognize fallen leaves as compost.

  8. Brownian says

    I’m afraid it’s mostly over: the trees around me are mostly skeletal, and we’ve just got boring piles of dead brown leaves on our lawn.

    Silly PZ, you’d make a lousy botanist: trees don’t have skeletons.

    Honestly, for a smart guy…

  9. Brownian says

    I’m glad we’re moving into the beginning of Half-Assed Fall/Spring here. Summer, Summer, and Summer were long enough. >.>

    Where do you live, and can I trade you six months of cold and dark for it?

    I’m watching ice float down the river, and I can only see it because we just switched over from DST on the weekend. In another week it’ll be dark before lunch is finished.

  10. Claire says

    All our Central Texas trees are busting out in spring flowers, the poor confused dears. Apparently the 1″ of rain we got last month, plus the cooler temps, have tricked the trees into thinking that they went dormant because of winter, not because of the hellish summer we just survived. Now everything’s pretty & blooming. My pear tree is going nuts. I just hope it’ll bloom again in the spring, because I WANT PEARS!

  11. Brownian says

    One of the definitions of skeletal is resembling a skeleton.


    And one of the connotations of “Brownian says:” is that I do a solo act: I’m not auditioning for a straight man.

  12. Dhorvath, OM says

    We kinda skated past summer in two weeks during september. No fans needed this year. Autumn is pretty nice to look at, but likely my least favourite month.

  13. says

    Brownian just doesn’t understand the nature of the “trees” in my yard. After a long summer and fall of proselytizing doorknockers, the flesh has at last sloughed from the bones.

  14. says

    Brownian, how far north _are_ you? I hope that was an exaggeration.

    I always hated walking home from school in the dark, but not enough to keep me from extracurricular activities.

    We’re having a yellow-ish green fall here in Southern Ontario, with only a few trees going on to golden, amber, and red. It’s practically mid-November and a lot of the trees are still green! Global warming denialists had better not talk to me. I did photograph a few trees just about that colour (above) at the U of T. campus today, and also one tree that was mainly green with a grafted portion that was entirely red.

  15. Brownian says

    outaworkee says:

    PZ Myers says:

    Carlie says:

    No fair!

    [Brownian runs, crying, from the room.]

  16. says

    Claire, that doesn’t sound good for your pear trees as they will have little time to form new buds before winter.

    Mudpuddles, lovely thoughts and imagery. Leaves are sublime at all stages.

  17. Brownian says

    Brownian, how far north _are_ you? I hope that was an exaggeration

    [Wipes away tears that meanies caused.]

    I was about the daylight, but not the river ice. But yeah: for most of December and January I will come to the office in darkness and leave the office in darkness. It gets pretty dreary.

    The flip side is ~17 hours of daylight at summer solstice.

  18. davem says

    At 51 north, I’m still picking tomatoes – in November. The plants are still in flower. Summat’s up. this is wrong, wrong, wrong…

  19. Brownian says

    maybe instead have a sweet tree cookie.

    But…but…what if it’s all full of bones and I don’t pick them all out and then I choke on one?

    [Pushes plate away and pouts for a bit. Then brightens.]

    Look how fun this Daylight Hours doomahickey I found is!

  20. carolw says

    I’m where Claire is. Our trees are all confused.

    We usually get a hint of fall, that crisp wisp of wind for a week between summer and winter that smells like carnivals and first fireplace fires, then it’s all rain and cold until April.

    Lately it’s been unrlenting drought and now teases of rain, so allergies and bad drivers have been out.

  21. Leonia says

    Normally, I like autumn, but this year, our foliage (in central Connecticut) was a tad bit too late in falling from the trees. When we had our snowstorm two days before Halloween, it succeeded in knocking out the power for most of the state. Things are only just getting back to normal. 6 days without power was 6 days too long, IMHO.

    I’ll take a lovely spring day any day, although up here, that can mean snow as well.

  22. MikeM says

    Still green here in Northern California, about 60 today, and rain is on the way for Thursday, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

    The Duggars are expecting Child Number Twenty! Yay!

    Seriously, that’s just a mental illness now.

  23. Dreyrugr says

    Its mainly in autumn when I miss central Minnesota. The west is nice but it doesn’t begin to compare. What I don’t miss is winter and the hotter parts of summer back there.

  24. Don Quijote says

    Asturian anchovies on Galician cheese
    These are a few of my favorite things.

    You should see the leaves on the grape vines here, awesome. It’s also getting bloody cold.

  25. says

    Brownian, that’s a neat Daylight Hours doohickey. Widget.

    I hate getting up in the dark and going home in the dark. And it happens every year and I’m never ready for it.

    This fall is turning out to be exceptionally mild. Not unprecedented, but very unusual. Global warming!

    On the positive side, we seem to have escaped the Giant Asteroid unscathed. Unless I missed something. That was about four minutes ago (listens for tsunamis).

    The closest approach will occur at 6:28 p.m. ET when the asteroid passes within 202,000 miles of our planet, NASA said.

  26. Aquaria says

    Well that’s not Texas. One of the things I hate about this place is the total lack of Autumn. I mean the season itself. We don’t have it in this area at all.

    You apparently haven’t heard of Lost Maples State Parkin Vanderpool.

  27. Gregory says

    autumn’s first storm, and
    puddles of crimson and gold
    lay beneath the trees

    I don’t remember where I got that one, but it always comes to mind when I see pictures like this.

  28. ambulocetacean says

    PZ shoots himself in the foot again. As Andy Schlafly points out, autumn leaves are some of the clearest evidence we have for the existence of a creator.

    You never heard of the argument from beauty? Typical ignorant scientismist.

  29. Katrina says

    Here in Puget Sound, the leaves are just starting to fall in earnest. The trees are still brightly colored.


    I’m still getting ripe tomatoes off of my plants – but not for much longer.

  30. scifi says


    Mmmm. Read that twice it was so evocative. Thanks.

    Meanwhile, here in the Antipodes, it’s 30C, the water is evaporatin’ out of the pool at a rapid rate and the grass is turnin’ yellow!

    I miss a good autumn and the US and UK ‘do’ them the best.

    …oh, and MikeM – apparently the Duggars had very little to do with it. ‘God’ has blessed them. Explains a lot – they obviously haven’t worked out how it really happens….

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