I have begun to watch for the weekly Nature Journal in the Asheville Citizen-Times. George Ellison is the naturalist who writes about our mountain surroundings. He quoted Dr Ross Hutchins on October 14, writing about leaves.* The expert said no two leaves are exactly alike, making me think of fingerprints and snowflakes. His writing was poetical when he talked about the voices of trees as wind blows through them. I first noticed that while walking under a gnarled old pine tree at the boat ramp in Stony Brook. There was a stiff breeze that day, and the resulting sound was a swishy sigh. Wind brought that tree to life. You can imagine the music implied in the title, Wind in the Willows.
Hutchins also wrote about flight patterns. Have you ever thought about flight patterns of leaves? Hutchins claimed he could identify a leaf by the way it fell. Maple leaves have a downward spiral, and oak leaves zigzag from side to side. Willow leaves spin. We have a huge oak in our yard, and I could immediately check out this statement. It is true. The leaves zig this way and zag the other If you see my head shake when I’m looking outside, I’m probably just following a crazy leaf as it falls to the ground.
I took a photo of our tree, so you can see what a future I have in leaf watching.
* “Hidden Valley of the Smokies: With a Naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains” (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1971) by Ross E. Hutchins.