There Are No Answers Here

I remember reading an essay in a college literature class that was written by a poet who was concerned that the so called “new” science would take the mystery out of the universe by coldly explaining everything in scientific detail. Today, when I was looking at these yellow leaves, I wondered for a moment why some leaves are red in the fall and others, like these, are yellow.

I imagined that science could give me an answer and I almost did a Google search. But then I realized that I am better off just wondering what the answer is because for me wonder lies in the mysterious realm between ignorance and truth. Though I do respect science and embrace its truths, I am also occasionally comfortable with my imaginings.

So if you know the scientific reason for different fall colors, good for you. But don’t tell me – at least today. I am quite content to wonder. . . .

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2 thoughts

  1. I’m certainly not voicing any anti-scientific sentiment here. Nor do I generally promote ignorance. But in this case I would rather wonder than know.

    Though I must admit that due to your question, I have researched this issue and I now know about reds and yellows in leaves:

    “Leaves are nature’s food factories. Plants take water from the ground through their roots. They take a gas called carbon dioxide from the air. Plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Oxygen is a gas in the air that we need to breathe. Glucose is a kind of sugar. Plants use glucose as food for energy and as a building block for growing. The way plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar is called photosynthesis. That means “putting together with light.” A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color.

    “As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees “know” to begin getting ready for winter.

    “During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

    “The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.

    “It is the combination of all these things that make the beautiful fall foliage colors we enjoy each year.” (Source:

    But on the leaf thing, I was OK with wonder. 🙂

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