October 21, 2006
People from all over the region are coming to the Wintergreen Resort for its Autumn Harvest Festival, which has music for the adults, pumpkin carving for the kids, and the fall colors for everyone.
"I love it," confessed Eric Zimmerman, who came with his family from Virginia Beach to enjoy the foliage. "I mean look at the colors. There's like eighteen-thousand different colors! It's just beautiful."
More beautiful, in fact, than the foliage has been in the past ten years.
According to biologist, Doug Coleman, from the Wintergreen Nature Foundation, we have the late season rains from tropical storm Ernesto to thank.
"A month or so ago we had the Ernesto event, and while it did some damage in some areas, it also provided the moisture background for the beautiful color that we are seeing right now," explained Coleman.
Moisture, the shortening of days, and the coldness of nights, are the key ingredients for a colorful autumn. They mix together to trigger a reaction within the leaf itself.
"This layer of cells begin to melt away," said Coleman as he pointed to the waxy outer layer on the leaf. "And as they do, the leaves go from green to red and gold, and then finally, they'll pop."
Coleman said, if the weather stays the same, we have another month of nature's cornucopia of color to enjoy.