Thursday, May 23, 2019
Spring Red, White and Green...
As we are heading into summer in Conway, you can see the red, white and green of Spring.
The red you see here are the Red Maples. We will come back to this. Let's start with the Spring green. It it is the lime green color seen on some of these trees (click on images to enlarge them). You can compare it to the White Pine needles that are dark green. Pines are evergreen and they don't change color much.
More Spring green can be seen across street at the Saco Valley Overlook explored in a previous blog (see this link). Further beyond can be seen the white snow that still remains on Mount Washington.
You can read about Thoreau's views on Mount Washington from a spot further south in Conway at this link.
In previous blogs we have explored Jeremy Belknap's insights into how trees were used by settlers. For example, how locust was good for fence posts and maple was used for sugaring. In this case, we are using the trees themselves to learn about the early settlers.
Spring green can help identify old farming field patterns. Look up at the gentle slope above the trees in the foreground at the foot of the Moat Mountains in the back. These fields were once open and accessed by the appropriately named "High Street." In the detail below you can see the shape of the early farm fields.
Spring green makes me think of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Wisconsin. Taliesin is Welsh for "shining brow." According to Wikipedia "Spring green" is a color included on the color wheel that is precisely halfway between cyan and green. When plotted on the CIE chromaticity diagram it corresponds to a visual stimulus of 505 nanometers on the visible spectrum. Spring green is a pure chroma on the color wheel.
A box of crayons can help you distinguish the variations of verde. According to "insidescience.org" the reason for this lime green color has to do with the way foliage develops. Young leaflets' chloroplasts -- the part of the plant that contains the green pigment chlorophyll -- are still developing, so the leaves tend to be lighter. New leaves are also thinner, with fewer waxy or tough layers that can darken the green color.
When leaves start maturing they begin making additional pigments. Some of these molecules can give leaves the yellow and red colors you see in the fall.
Younger leaves generally have fewer accessory pigments, so the green of the chlorophyll that is present is not masked.
However, some new leaves, like those of the red maple, are typically tinged red in the spring. This is because lots of sugar is pumped into the small, young leaves to fuel their growth, and the sugar is sometimes converted into the red pigment anthocyanin and stored in the leaf, giving it a reddish appearance, Moore explained. As the leaves mature, the extra anthocyanin is metabolized and the leaves turn green.
The red of the maples also enhanced by the flowers this time of the year..
Meanwhile in the swamps, the beavers have been active.
The Conway Public Library has many books, maps and other resources to help you conquer cabin fever and get you out into nature.