13 October 2012

Home. Thoughts from Abroad

I'll have to start reading Thoreau. There was a man who knew a thing or two about the beauty of Autumn in the eastern regions of North America. I note that at the time he wrote 'Autumnal Tints' he regretted that "October has hardly tinged our poetry". I can only assume that it has since.

Here's a view of an Irish poet:
Mid-October, Massachusetts. We drive
through the livid innards of a beast, dragon
or salamander, whose home is fire. The hills
a witch's quilt of goldrust, flushed cinnamon,
wine fever, hectic lemon. ...
from Incident, by Eamon Grennan
We drove, walked and cycled through such places in the Laurentians. A sunny day grew brighter as we cycled through glowing woods, by sparkling lakes and alongside busy rivers. A dull day kindled bright in forests that made their own light, in places reflected in the still looking-glass of quiet lakes.

Autumn flares in the Laurentians

Up close and personal with maple and conifer

Zingy carotenoids

More fall delights
I'll stop lest the prose turns purple and give you a bit of science instead - the chemistry is especially for the son who is enjoying such things in his studies in Montréal. Those delightful yellows and oranges that start to flare in the autumn are a result of less chlorophyll production as the season progresses. As the green chlorophyll pigment decreases, the xanthophylls (yellow) and carotenoids (oranges, browns, yellows) start to shine through. Interestingly though, the reds and purples that appear are newly produced at this time of the year: as the phosphate levels in the leaf decrease, sugars within the leaf break down to form anthocyanins, which provide us with the vivid red and burgundy in maple leaves amongst others. Apparently, brighter light during the Autumn/Fall leads to increased production of the anthocyanins and so a more spectacular display of colour.

Shadows of their former selves, but still lovely: leaves from Lac des Femmes 
Those of you who are still here and who wish to find out more can pop over to wiki.

Giant Sequoia Bonsai
Sequoiadendron giganteum, 35 years old,
created at the Montréal Botanical Gardens
Visiting a city, and Montréal is a great city to visit, provides little in the way of encounters with growing and moving things, although a warm welcome on the night we arrived included a glass of wine in a charming courtyard garden, filled with hostas and ferns and washed in the delicate sounds of a small mosaiced fountain. A trip to the Montréal Botanical Gardens provided delights on a slightly larger scale, including the Japanese and Chinese gardens. In the former was a collection of Bonsai which were remarkable. The one that made me chuckle though was the Bonsai Giant Sequoia - who would dream of such a thing? And yet there it is, 35 years on, doing its thing.

Trident Maple forest, Acer buergerianum,
50 years old
gift of the Japanese Government to the
Montréal  Botanical Gardens

Many thanks to our gracious and generous hosts, guides, fellow guests and welcoming and farewell committees. You know who you are!

To finish the Montréal section, two photos: one is a view of the city from 'the mountain' taken by BvG with my lowly camera. The other gives a hint of why a young Irish man might settle so comfortably into Montréal, Québec, where rules and signs are not to be taken seriously ...

Fall in Montréal, a view from the mountain

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Travelling is wonderful. Coming home is too. We returned to an archetype of an Irish day: low glowering skies and rain; but it was good to be back. In the garden, my own two Japanese maples provide welcome reminders of their North American cousins, and the Molinia and Miscanthus grasses weave the low autumn light into complex and beautiful moving tapestries. Many thanks to a busy son who managed to successfully hold the fort at home.

Leaf fall in Dublin, Acer palmatum chinostachys
Have a good week all.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home - looking forward to hearing about your adventures, aeh! S