Saturday, 27 October 2012

Autumn Colour

Falling Leaves

      Years ago, I had a second hand G.P.O Morris 1000 van. In those days there was no passenger seat, the space being used for a toolbox instead. This wasn’t exactly the most social of arrangements, so I got hold of a seat from a scrapyard and placed it where the toolbox had been, with the intention of eventually bolting it in. However, intentions and actuality hadn’t crossed paths when I offered a female friend a lift home and she happily perched on the seat, oblivious to  its somewhat independent nature. We were chatting amicably when I made a rather abrupt start at some traffic lights. Turning to her to say something, I suddenly became aware that she had gone. Well, not exactly gone, but I was addressing her feet. The seat,  having toppled backwards, was now  in the process  of sliding, complete with occupant,  into the rear of the van.

      She was probably under the impression that this was some sort of passion waggon based on the Wallace and Grommit principle of dropping you into your trousers, only in reverse. Whatever she thought, I didn’t see her again.

Acer palmatum 'Dissectum Atropurpureum'

      At this point, neurons are whizzing through synapses in my brain like trains in the underground, carrying the message that the phenomenon of  Morris 1000 seats disappearing  into the rear of vans is similar to that of the leaves falling off trees in autumn. Don’t worry if you missed this connection – some of our synapses work differently.
      The leaves change colour because the onset of cold weather breaks down the chlorophyll in them. Chlorophyll is what makes them green and this green masks the yellow, red, orange and purple pigments also present. When it disappears therefore, these colours are allowed to briefly shine through like the sun when we open the curtains or shed the sunglasses. Eventually however, the tree sheds the leaves because they can’t function as food factories in the cold. They fall to the ground, are broken down by myriad fungi and other organisms, and eventually return their nutrients to the tree via its roots. The plant then puts out new leaves and the cycle continues.

Marie Louise Gardens


 So by now you’ll understand the similarity to what’s happening in the van. When I stop abruptly at the next set of lights, the seat shoots forward and, when it hits the edge of the old toolbox, tips the  girl back into the starting position. It’s all about cycles.


  1. I love autumn colour and I had no idea that the green colors masked the rich orange and red colours all spring and summer!
    Poor girl. I wonder why you never saw her again?

  2. Great pictures John. Looking forward to future instalments.