The dictionary defines metachromatism as a change in color caused by a change in physical conditions, especially temperature. This explains the science of fall foliage.
Pennsylvania defines metachromatism as a change in attitude, energy and activities caused by a change in physical conditions, especially temperature. This explains the science of autumn festivals, hiking and leaf-peeping tours prompted by the fall foliage.
Funny how a little color can cause so much energy, generate so many amusements and create so much tourism this time of year. Who can help falling in love with fall?
Forget the fireworks on the Fourth of July. If you really want to see color, now is prime time. Autumn is when Mother Nature puts on her light show. More than just red, white and blue paint the sky. Think candy yellow, rich orange, burnt sienna, passionate purple and crimson red leaves on some 3 trillion trees, including hickory, sycamore, birch, red maple, sumac and black gum in the Commonwealth.
Now that’s color.
And the best part is that the show continues through the end of the month.
Weather is a chief indicator in determining the fall-foliage season, from when it will start to how long it will last and even the color of the leaves, WNEP meteorologist Kurt Aaron said. His station gets calls inquiring about the best times to view the color show before Labor Day. The first two weeks in September are when the season begins, and it usually continues at least through the middle of October, he said.
“People really want to know what is the best time to look at the colors,” Aaron said. “We should see beautiful colors this year. The conditions are perfect with the warm, sunny days and cool nights.”
A drought would shorten the leaf-viewing season, he said, noting that while the area has experienced below-average rainfall, there still has been some precipitation. Heavy rain and higher temperatures could delay the season, while dry and cold weather may accelerate it.
A lot of sunlight and low temperatures could diminish the duration of leaf viewing as leaves are more likely to fall off the trees, Aaron said. He said low temperatures during both the day and night will promote red and purple pigments in the leaves.
The change of seasons is a huge drawing point of Pennsylvania tourism. And there’s just so much more than viewing leaves. Pick produce, tour some historic landmarks, shop for crafts, or perhaps, even learn how to be creative yourself. Get your hiking shoes, your bicycle, your car and hit the trails, the road or even the railroad tracks because the show is about to start in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
As an added pleasure, fall means harvest time in the county. Produce is ripe for the pickin’ at many area farms.
“It’s nice to see people coming in not talking on their phones,” Nancy Waters of Heller Orchards in Wapwallopen said. “They’re eating an apple instead.”
The orchard offers a variety of apples for sale in a relaxing country atmosphere perfect for both fruit- and autumn-lovers. Hellers expects a busy October ranging from young couples to families and senior citizens.
“When the leaves change people think of apples,” she said. “People just like to walk around the farm. We have a pond, and they just stop and relax and look at the fish.”
Waters said the apple crop is good this year despite an early frost in May and some lack of rain. “The cooler nights have helped with the color of the apples,” she said. “And the apples themselves are bigger.”
Business is also good for apple cider, thanks to winemaking enthusiasts. Waters said about 1,000 gallons are sold in a week.