I’ve written about leaves before, but they continue to interest me. This post occured to me two? days ago when I was driving to Price Chopper up Hoosick St in Troy, NY. We had a really warm week up here in Troy, every day was in the upper 80s or lower 90s, and this was the first day it was a very pleasant 70-something outside. It was feeling like fall outside (relatively), the leaves were starting to get a little crisp which reminded me that soon they will be falling off. I’m not sure how I determined that while driving my car, but we’ll continue.
It occurred to me that in the long run the leaves falling off each fall and growing back in the spring seems like a really inefficient process, not just for the trees but for everyone involved. If I was a tree, I wouldn’t like to kill off all of my leaves when it got cold and then have to go through all the effort to grow them back when it was not longer freezing outside. As a person who had a yard, I know first hand that raking leaves isn’t the most useful way to spend an October weekend.
If you view the process a tree grows through on a per-year basis it doesn’t seem as crazy because you don’t capture the repeat N years step but the second you start zooming out it starts to seem a lot dumber. The leaves that grow back in the next spring won’t be any better than the current leaves. It’s not like they are evolving to better survive the winter or photosynthesize faster (at least to my knowledge).
Let me provide a really confusing analogy, we’ll talk about databases. I need to backup my database every few months because that is the season that my hard drives typically fail. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough hard drive space to back everything up, so I delete a bunch of rows in my database. Who needed them anyways, right? After successfully backing the database up, I run the program that puts back close copies of the rows that I previously deleted. They’re not the exact same pieces of data, but they are reasonably close. Most people would probably tell you to buy a bigger hard drive and save yourself the hassel.
But this keeps happening. I don’t like to use the term “mother nature” because I don’t think nature is very maternal, but the natural forces must know something about what’s going on here. This process has been repeating itself for a really really long time. Maybe it is easier to delete all those rows from the database since the newly added ones can perform the job just as good, if not better.
Unfortunately my basement apartment doesn’t have much of a view out of the 5 windows I have, so I won’t be able to watch Fall happen like I normally do. I miss having a view I think. Maybe I will recreate Fall on a screensaver or something like that.