Depending upon where you are, this is the time of year when leaves begin to turn shades of yellows, oranges and reds.  Hillsides look like an artist’s painting, lit up by the colors of autumn leaves.  Many photographers wait all year long for the colors of the leaves to change in hopes of getting the perfect photos that may help them win the next photo contest.

But have you ever wondered what makes the leaves turn color?

Most leaves are various shades of green.  The green is from a chemical called chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is used by the plants to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into useable energy through the process of photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis requires sunlight and the longer the sun shines, like in the middle of summer, the more energy it produces.

At this time of year, the daylight hours are less and less.  The sun comes up later in the morning and setting earlier in the evening.  As the hours of sunlight decrease, there is less sunlight energy for the leaves to use to produce plant energy.  With less plant energy, the leaves begin to lose chlorophyll and their green color.

As the green chlorophyll fades away, other chemicals in leaves such as anthocyanins and carotenoids are left behind.  Anthocyanins give the leaves their red and purple colors.  In some leaves there is a lot of glucose (sugar) in the leaves.  High concentrations of glucose can cause these leaves to turn bright red like the leaves of sugar maples.  The carotenoids give the leaves their orange and yellow colors.

 

Eventually, the leaves die because they have stopped carrying out photosynthesis and the leaves turn brown and fall to the ground.

The real miracle of autumn leaves is that it is a way for plants to cope with the cold winter months.  In the spring, not only do the temperatures warm up but the hours of sunlight become longer.  The plants emerge from their winter sleep, the sap starts flowing through the stems and new green leaves begin to sprout and the cycle starts all over again.

Lightlings

In The Lightlings, Dr. R.C. Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption in a manner that will fascinate and delight children. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings are a picture of humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama – creation, fall, and redemption. In the end, children will understand why some people fear light more than darkness, but why they need never fear darkness again.

The Lightlings is an excellent introduction to the key themes of Scripture. Richly detailed illustrations by Justin Gerard will hold children’s interest, and discussion questions with Scripture references in the back will help parents guide children into the deeper meaning of the story.

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