Wednesday, September 26, 2018
How Autumn begins
I first noted it in a scattering of trees with their colors bolting. That sea of green has just begun its lurid turn. It's my favorite time of year.
But something concerned me. Why only these trees so far? Why now? I have studied the science behind the color change in trees but I was not satisfied. Why do some trees, even of the same species and general size and age, turn burning orange while others remain, for another day or week, still lush in their greenery?
But then I got a scientific theory in my brain: Micro-Climates!
But a theory is nothing without proof. Just look at my 1,800 blog posts so far. So I assembled a backpack full of scientific measuring devices and headed off into the wild bluffs of the upper Mississippi, a half hidden wilderness sluicing through the beating heart of the Twin Cities.
I had an infrared temperature gun. It's hard to find a really good one so I've had to make modifications and work with the manufacturer. But this one was a key to my research.
I had a an anemometer, of course, duh.
I had my trusty agrometer, the analog one, that has always reliably measured humidity for me.
I had a stormglass, which really was pretty useless, and I had a lightning detector, which I spent way too much money on, and it really wasn't going to be of much use to me here, but I love it too much to ever leave it behind.
I also brought a souped up, hypersensitive smoke detector.
And then I plunged down off the river road and started taking readings.
No changes anywhere.
I found a patch of orange trees.
I didn't give up. I tried more areas of turning trees and turning ground flora. I waited until night. I went out at dawn.
I realized I needed to capture the moment of change. I climbed out of the river valley and up. I went up some more.
And there! A patch of green trees in a light fog was just starting to go. I raced back to the edge of the bluff. I took my bearings. It was deep in a thicket tangled on the riverside. I headed down into it, laden with my equipment, and I stumbled into a copse of trees almost turning orange before my eyes. With my head down I started pulling out my equipment and adjusting my dials and readers. Then I looked up.
Pixies were everywhere, laughing.