Saturday, October 25, 2014

What is this "peak" thing? Commercializing fall colors.

 While working in my office this morning, I noticed the sound of rain on my roof stopped.  Then the sun poked through a hole in the clouds and I saw a maple tree in my back yard (above) glow bright red and orange.  I decided it was time for a photo break.  I went out on our back deck to get the above photo. 
 Then I noticed a similar-sized maple slightly to the right was still a greenish yellow.  I think the top photo would get more attention from the so-called "leaf peepers" who are encouraged to come to Plumas County to view the fall colors (and spend money), but the maple in the second photo is actually much healthier and has yet to "peak" as the jargon goes.  In fact, the bright-colored tree to the left is actually the unhealthy one.  It was knocked flat to the ground several times by snow and by some aggressive yard work last summer.  It failed to bend back upright on its own, so we tied it to a
big Ponderosa Pine (next photo) to hold it upright and hoped it would firm up in this restored position.
 Looking to the North in my neighbor's back yard, I saw two great California Black Oaks.
 The one in the foreground is still green, and the one in the background is showing some bright reds and oranges.  I wondered what's causing the difference.  Maybe available water.  Maybe slight difference in insolation.  Soil quality?  Who knows?  But it's a beautiful splash of color amongst the surrounding pines and firs.
I finished my break witha brief stroll down my driveway where I photographed this low-hanging oak.
On my way back I pondered the statements I find on the various chamber-of-commerce-type websites that promote touring the county to view the fall colors.  This on October 21:  "We're declaring peak today."  And, "Historically, October 21 has been peak color throughout Plumas County."  On another website, "Lower Lundy Lake Road - Peak 75 - 100% - definitely peaking.  GO NOW."
The elevation in Plumas County varies from just under 2,000' to just over 8,300'.  I'm sure it doesn't all peak at the same time.  Not even close.  And what is this 100%?  100% of what?  How can one declare that fall color in a given area is 75% when there's no way to know how bright the colors will get?  GO NOW?  Nah, it can't be any better than my back yard.  Color in my back deck is at 120%!  That means it's much better than I expected a week ago.

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