Gazing at the breathing color of idyllic nature – ironically, in a stage of dying – does something profound to the human eye. And to the human spirit. The visual signals from the slow decay of foliage, as the season of autumn moves closer, stirs a form of yearning deep inside.
This is transformation, a slow rolling of change, almost microscopically tragic and cosmically magnificent. This is creation’s show time – a wild, mad and unworldly display of transcendent beauty.
Simply, this is the changing of the seasons. And this is Western North Carolina. This is atop the Southern Appalachian Mountain Plateau. We are The Park on Main®, the luxury hotel in Highlands, NC; and we are preparing to behold the rousing dance as the cycle of nature shifts to another stage.
Last Year’s Drier Conditions Mean More Vivid Scenery
One Western Carolina University environmental expert, Jessica Hucks, said she anticipates this season’s viewing season to be more splendid than it has been in years because of last year’s drier season.
Citing one of the university’s biology professors, Kathy Mathews, Hucks said the predictions stem from higher levels of pigments in leaves caused by the drier-than-normal weather of 2015.
“This fall could be one of the best leaf color seasons in Western North Carolina in recent memory,” Mathews said. “Three words explain it – unusually dry weather.”
Mathews added that the early summer rains of 2015 that precedes the drier conditions helped ward off the prospects of drought but at the same time helped maintained tree vibrancy.
Mathews said sugar concentrations in leaves rise during drier weather in an attempt to remain healthy. The higher sugar levels produce more anthocyanins, the red pigments that appear when the green chlorophyll recedes.
“That’s what causes the leaf colors to really pop, along with the simultaneous appearance of orange and yellow pigments on the same or different tree species,” Mathews said.
Another sign that the prospects of good leaf viewing are high on the horizon relates to forecasts of a light hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. The drier air in the Gulf of Mexico, as predicted by forecasters, indicates less chance of rain storms in the North Carolina Mountains during September.
“The peak of fall color often arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations, above 4,000 feet, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, 2,500 to 3,500 feet,” Mathews said.
The peak is expected to occur a few days after the day of frost, Mathews said.
Come to The Park on Main® and explore the magnificent mountains.
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