Pink Is A Fall Color

          The Kindergarten fall color hikes have been a huge success. Each child, a crayon clutched in chubby little hand, searched Crossroads at Big Creek trying to match his or her color to a fall color in nature. The  children found vivid reds, oranges, and yellows. On Saturday, October 19, at 9:00,  pink will be added to the list of fall colors as Crossroads joins with Ministry Door County Health Center to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a special hike.

          As a part of Ministry’s Take a Hike and Call Me in the Morning Program, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Tomaszewski will lead an hour-long hike and will talk about the health benefits of “Green Exercise” and how physical activity can keep your body and bones strong. And because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we invite participants to wear pink.
          The hike will begin on the new trail created as an Eagle Scout project by Scott Mathison with the help of the members and families of Boy Scout Troop 1022. Because the trail was underwritten, in part, by Ministry, Kevin Grohskopf will join Dr. Dan and Scott in cutting the pink ribbon.
           Combining Breast Cancer Awareness and walking turns out to be highly appropriate. Several recent studies suggest that walking and other physical activity can help lower the risk of breast cancer and that walking also can improve the odds of surviving breast cancer.
The community is invited to walk with us. Wear pink if you want, but do come out and experience the health benefits of walking while enjoying fall colors.
Just as many factors influence human health, many different conditions determine fall colors. Day length, this year’s late spring, cloud cover and rain, the chemicals in the leaves, and a number of other catalysts work together to bring about the transformation. Every autumn, these conditions are different.

Leaves have color because they contain chemicals called pigments. During spring and summer, chlorophyll is so intensely green, it masks all the other pigments. But when the days start getting short, the plants stop producing chlorophyll. Then the yellow pigments, which were in the leaf all along, become visible.

Throughout the summer, tree leaves are full of sugars, gums, and tannins. As we ease into autumn, when the chorophyll  stops functioning, the sugars andalso the minerals in most trees migrate from the leaves into the roots for winter storage. 

Maple trees are different. During the growing season, the roots of maple trees absorb nutrients from the deep in the ground. These minerals go into the leaves, but are not reabsorbed. So while maples store some food in their roots (think maple sap and syrup), sugars and minerals remain in maple leaves in autumn. Even when they fall, maple leaves still contains magnesium, calcium, and potassium and consequently, they fertilize the soil.

But while it is still in the tree, maple leaves manufacture the greatest concentration of sugars if they are in direct sunlight. And in the leaves, sugars react to form the anthocyanins….the pigments which cause leaves to turn red in maples and oaks, and to a lesser degree, in other tree species.

This means that when maple leaves are in direct sunshine… especially if we have a lot of sunny days in the fall, maples will turn red. Actually, because we had a great deal of sun in September, even other tree species on the edges of the forests or growing in the open are showing crimsons and oranges. The leaves on the shady side of the tree and the trees in the deep forest generally are yellow, except for those at the very top of the canopy where sunlight can reach them.

          On Sunday, at 1:00, long before the game, we hold a Green and Gold Hike. The greens and golds are now striking in many of our evergreen trees and apparently, this worries some folks. The older (worn out) needles on our pines and cedar turn yellow and fall from the trees each fall. The trees are fine. They just show Packer colors in October.

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