Autumn leaves, which at Crossroads seem early and more colorful than usual, remind us of the passage of time. It’s hard to believe that this Sunday marks the end of the season in The Historical Village at The Crossroads. On the other hand, we rejoice with the children on fall field trips when the youngsters find all of the colors in the crayon box.
The reds and oranges are brilliant this year. The scarlet leaves first appeared on the edges of our forests. Though beautiful, the changing colors foretell the impending death of the leaves.
A leaf begins to die when a specialized set of cells called the abscission layer forms across the base of the leaf’s stem. This layer cuts off the flow of water and nutrients to the leaf. Chlorophyll is used up with exposure to light. Without water and nutrients, no new green bodies can be formed.
Without chlorophyll, other leaf pigments are revealed. Sunny conditions favor the chemical changes which create the red pigments, while a string of overcast days in early fall will result in yellow leaves. This September, we had plenty of sunshine.
Trees on the edges… of a field, of a forest, of lakes and in yards…. receive more sunlight than forest trees. They also experience more stress. Trees on the edge are buffeted by far more wind than those in the forest interior. Trees near pavement suffer drought conditions (even in wet years, which this most certainly was not.) On the other hand, trees on the edges of wetlands or near bodies of water often get too much water and must get by in nutrient-poor soil. Stressed plants turn color first, and haven’t they been lovely this year?
But soon, all leaves will turn. Deciduous leaves, by definition, function for one growing seaon. Many leaves don’t even last that long. Deer eat them, insects suck their juices, wind storms blow them right off the trees. But by fall, the leaves are finished and used up. They die and they drop from the tree.
Even evergreens are changing colors. Oh, the outer needles are still green, but even though the trees are called evergreen, their green needles don’t last forever. Foliage on cedars and needles of pines are able to collect the energy of the sun to make food for three, maybe four years. But needles wear out, and when they no longer are working, they retire. Maybe we should buy them a gold watch.
In Door County over the past 102 years, countless retirement watches have been purchased and repaired by men named either Bill or George at Draeb Jewelers, Inc. The final program at The Sunday in The Village Series will be “As Time Goes By”, the history of the Draeb family business.
At 2:00 on Sunday, October 14, George Draeb will describe how the business, now located at 50 N. Third Ave., was founded by his grandfather in 1910. The family tradition continued through the founder’s son, Bill, before being handed to George, whose son Bill now is the fourth generation of the family to sell and repair quality jewelry. The presentation will includes displays, artifacts and family history. This program is free and open to the public.