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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

The Most Beautiful Color In The World

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

Temperatures are still flirting with the 90's here in Oklahoma, and at this time of year I really miss the beautiful colors of a Wisconsin autumn. I have always been fascinated with the showy colors of the north woods, and for now I enjoy the pictures shared by others, even as I know the photos never really do justice to a northern woodlot in full fall color.

When I was a little girl I used to write down the color patterns of specific Maple trees on our land from year to year, as I was curious if the trees showed the same color patterns consistently. Some trees seemed consistent, but others did change from predominately orange to predominantly red other years. Perhaps variation of soil moisture is partly responsible. And then there are those striking Maples that stay green a bit longer, but with one or two branches flaming with color - my husband's personal favorite color pattern. The predominant signal to color change is the decrease of daylight, not "Jack Frost." Of course, color is true to tree type - Aspen/Popple are always gold or yellow, Oak always reddish brown, but my childhood data said that at least some Maples do show a variety of predominant hues in different years - gold, orange and red.

Almost anyone who pays attention to this lavish display of color has a favorite drive or vista for maximum enjoyment of this beauty. There are many along the Peshtigo River; Dave's Falls is stunning, and the drive to McClintock Park can be a highlight. You can hardly go wrong.

I used to think about the fact that you can't buy beautiful clothing or home furnishings in the color a Maple tree displays. The reason is the multitude of variation of shades on a single tree. One single tree can have some leaves that are deep scarlet red; some are more red-orange, others more orange than red. Take some leaves off different branches of a tree and compare them, you will see that this is often true. This variation is what fascinates my eyes - and a breath of wind stirring those leaves into motion makes the tree even more spectacular. An entire grove of Maples in full color in a breeze is like watching a bonfire's dancing flames - another example of a natural color variation that fascinates humans. Few things compare to what Mother Nature can do. Just stand on the shoreline of Lake Superior on a summer day and watch " you will identify five or even more shades of blue and green in the water in front of you. The sunsets, no two alike, with blush, pink, orange and yellow are a fresh picture every single evening, and I have to say, the Oklahoma sunsets are without peer, even compared to those I have enjoyed in Mexico and the Bahama Islands.

One of the year-round symbols of the north woods is the evergreen trees. Another is the classic beauty of Birch trees, with their stark white trunks so conspicuous in both winter and summer. The fall color display is most noteworthy for its short appearance; you must get out and enjoy it when it is with us, for it will soon be gone. We can admire the snow-draped evergreens for a much longer season; the Birches are beautiful year-round (but particularly gorgeous when covered with a thin layer of ice in the early spring sunshine.) But the shelf-life of the peak perfection of the autumn woods in Wisconsin is short - get outside as often as you can, and live in the moment, as it will soon be gone again for eleven long months. Try as we might, we humans simply cannot create anything that can compare to Mother Nature's pallet.

I recently read a very good non-fiction book about art theft. The book featured many photos of famous paintings that had been stolen, most of them valued well in excess of a million dollars. Not one of them came even close to being as beautiful as the sight of the Badger Park Maples in full fall display reflected in the waters of the Peshtigo River as you drive over the bridge - and you can enjoy that view for free.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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