Our Japanese maple tree is no longer “in- waiting” for the autumn switch. The clear, crisp nights around and since the Super moon this week have seen a dramatic colour change on most of the tree and today the leaves are dropping in large numbers
At a glance, in the gloomy conditions today, the courtyard looks as if stars have fallen to earth.
It is as if the maple tree was like its owners, determined to hold on to any last vestiges of the Indian summer, but nature always wins and the seasonal shift is well underway now.
Some years ago now a wonderful decision was made by our local city council. In recognition of Porirua’s Sister City relationship with Nishio City in Japan, a grove of flowering cherry trees was planted on grassy reserve land near our local school and kindergarten.
This grove of trees brings such simple but profound pleasure to so many residents and visitors as the trees cycle through the seasons. Last spring the flowering was prolific and the lack of wind meant the blossoms were not ruined. In summer it is a shady, leafy spot for children to play or picnic under and for dogs to enjoy sniffing about on their daily walk.
Autumn brings a dramatic colour show with the trees now large and spreading. We have been enjoying, actually reveling in an Indian summer since Easter and the nights have not been crisp and cold in the main. This has meant the leaves on these trees have not had the stimulation that causes strong colour changes. However nature is at work right now despite our “false” summer and the trees are well worth visiting to enjoy their autumn splendour.
With storm force winds predicted for yesterday and through the night we decided to head down to the grove to capture some photos before the leaves were stripped off by the gales.
The wind proved to be very “Wellington”. So strong I had trouble opening my car door against it and to walk into the wind required a certain lean that all Wellingtonians get teased about. It was nevertheless invigorating as swirls of fallen leaves from the many deciduous trees in that spot flew up and around us.
Such a large expanse of varied colour was a challenge to capture on humble digital cameras from ground level but we did our best.
After being buffeted and blown about we returned home feeling utterly refreshed and “our cobwebs” blown away.
We have been enjoying some warm, clear Indian summer days this week and with it has come clear nights. This past summer has been one of cloud, cloud and more cloud so viewing the night sky has not been an option.
The nights are drawing in here and daylight saving finishes this weekend so pulling the curtains is happening earlier. As I have been shutting the curtains I look into the western sky and I have spotted the crescent moon and with it two very bright objects.
I’ve checked and they are the planets Venus and Jupiter. The latter is fading fast and last night was not as shiny as it had been earlier in the week.
Jupiter from Voyager 1
When we came home from singing on Tuesday night I was able to gaze up at the sky at 9pm and see the familiar Southern Cross and all the other stars of our Milky Way. It is a comforting sight.
A fellow blogger Jo posted a very interesting piece earlier this week about Earthshine and that piqued my curiosity. The new moon has had this phenomenon occurring in our sky too this week and I have learnt a new word. Sunshine, moonlight, starlight are all old familiar terms but “Earthshine” has an enchanting ring to it.
Here is what Jo wrote about Earthshine and I would encourage you all to pop on over to her online magazine The Hazel Tree and read the interesting posts she writes as well we viewing the stunning photos she and her family take on their patch of earth.
“Earthshine is the faintly illuminated ‘dark’ part of the Moon, which is not lit directly by sunlight. Instead, it’s lit by reflected sunlight from the Earth.
The best time to observe Earthshine is when the Moon is a thin crescent, either while it’s new in the evening, or an old waning Moon at sunrise. For some reason that isn’t yet properly understood, it is much more noticeable during the months of April and May.
The phenomenon was first explained by Leonardo da Vinci in the first decade of the 16th century. Cloud cover on the Earth reflects more sunlight than land or sea, although snow and ice reflect up to 90% of sunlight back into space.
Earthshine is also known as ‘the Moon’s ashen glow’ or ‘the old Moon in the new Moon’s arms’.”