Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sad when the trees lose their leaves?

Autumn is part of a natural cycle.

I am usually so tired of hot weather by the end of summer that I am truly thankful for autumn when it finally arrives. Some people don't agree. They love the long sun-filled days of summer, and they are sad when the days grow cooler and shorter and the trees lose their leaves.

Feelings of sadness as autumn progresses can be caused by our bodies. As the hours of natural light decrease, we produce more melatonin, a hormone that can produce feelings of depression and generally slow a body down. If you think you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), talk to your doctor, and try to spend more time in the sunshine or full spectrum light.

On the other hand, some who claim to be sad about autumn haven't given much thought to the life cycles and rhythms God has built into our wonderful world. The following wisdom about the change of seasons is still as true today as when it was written, nearly 150 years ago:

Some persons occasionally complain that this period of the year, this brilliant change in the foliage, causes melancholy feelings, arousing sad and sorrowful ideas, like the flush on the hectic cheek.

But surely its more natural meaning is of a very different import. Here is no sudden blight of youth and beauty; no sweet hopes of life are blasted, no generous aim at usefulness and advancing virtue cut short : the year is drawing to its natural term, the seasons have run their usual course, all their blessings have been enjoyed, all our precious things are cared for; there is nothing of untimeliness, nothing of disappointment in these shorter days and lessening heats of autumn.

As well may we mourn over the gorgeous coloring of the clouds, which collect to pay homage to the setting sun, because they proclaim the close of day; as well may we lament the brilliancy of the evening star, and the silvery brightness of the crescent moon, just ascending into the heavens, because they declare the Approach of Night and her shadowy train.

Source: A First Class Reader: Consisting of Extracts, in Prose and Verse, edited by G.S. Hillard. Published in 1861 in Boston by Swan, Brewer, and Tileston. This passage is from the chapter, Autumn, written by "Miss Cooper, a daughter of the celebrated novelist."

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2 comments -- please add yours:

Collagemama said...

Fall has always been my energizer. My body seems to think the first crisp weather signals a new year and a new beginning.

My worst funks have usually been in May. I feel out of step with the world and all the people who love spring.

I think pollens and allergies must be tied into seasonal depression somehow. The fall ragweed season makes me sneezy and itchy-eyed, but the spring pollens make me foggy and blue.

Genevieve said...

I am usually a fairly upbeat person, but when the hot weather drags on and on and on, I get tired of it. It was hard to maintain my customary optimistic outlook this summer when the drought was so terrible. I'm relieved that temperatures are subsiding a little (though we still ran the AC this afternoon.) We've had a few small rains. We're still very dry, but the situation is not as desperate as it was. I'm glad it's fall!

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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