Greetings Daytonians! I’m Val Beerbower, a Jack-of-all-pens writer, novice cook, bad movie paramour and public relations specialist with Five Rivers MetroParks. I’ll admit, I wasn’t much of an “outdoorsy” person when I took up my marketing mantle in the summer of 2009, but since then , my journey with this park system has opened my eyes to a world of educational experiences, recreational opportunities and conservation principles that are waiting right in your own back yard. For those who have a little trepidation approaching nature and haven’t quite wrapped your head around tree hugging methods, fear not. I shall be your guide to Dayton’s Wild Side, taking the baby steps right along with you. Together, we’ll divest ourselves of the remote or mouse and step outside into the glaring, glorious light of day. I promise it won’t hurt a bit.
Let’s start with something easy – fall color. Who doesn’t like pretty trees? I learned that shedding leaves is a survival strategy for the trees. Broad leaves from deciduous trees, even though they collect a huge amount of sunlight for photosynthesis, do require more energy from the tree to maintain. Because Ohio winters are dark and dry, it’s easier for the tree to just shed the leaves and remain dormant until the warmer months return.
Leaves change color for a variety of reasons. Some leaves are naturally yellow or orange, but the activity of photosynthesis (process plants use to turn sunlight into glucose) produces a green hue that overpowers any other color present in the leaf. When photosynthesis shuts down, the other colors shine through. In other instances, the glucose gets trapped inside the leaf and the hues you see are actually the sugars (maples are a vibrant example).
If you want to learn more, there are a few programs you might want to attend:
For hike ideas and places to spot fall’s radiant color (hurry! Limited quantities available while supplies last!), visit metroparks.org/FallColor.