Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Turning of the Leaves ~Tanya Hanson

Hard to believe it a year already, but last fall, Hubs and I witnessed the aspen trees in all their fiery glory, mostly yellow and gold, occasionally red. I still get goosebumps remembering the magnificence that surrounded us in Vail, Colorado.

                           . Aspen are found throughout North America, from New England to Alaska, even down into California and Arizona. But the best, the most, and brightest are found in Colorado and Utah.
Aspen, Colorado, was named that for a reason!

  Petiole--the stalk attaching the leaf to the stem--are long and flat, giving the leaves the chance to flutter or “quake” in the slightest breeze. Depending on their location, aspen endure temperatures as low as -78 F, and as high as 110 F. While they prefer moist soil, they can grow in desert climes that get a half a foot of rain a year. Their absolutely only requirement for survival is abundant sunlight. With white bark and black scars, the aspen is often confused with the birch. However, birch bark easily peels like paper and aspen bark does not. aspen isn’t really one tree at all.

A stand of aspen is actually one huge organism, a large system--up to twenty acres--of underground roots. When there is finally enough sunlight, roots sprout up into the famed white trunks which eventually shoot off leaves. This is called vegetative, or asexual, reproduction. These root systems are called “clones” and can live for thousands of of years. The oldest known clone at 80,000 years old is the “Pando” north of Bryce Canyon in central Utah. Five-to-ten thousand year old clones are more common.

Aspen are unique in another way...beneath that lovely white back is an inner green layer necessary for photosynthesis. Making sugars keeps the aspen growing all through the winter when other trees go dormant. This green layer also becomes survival food for deer and elk when winters are long.

 In the fall, the trees of each aspen “clone” structure will have the same color turning from green to gold or red at the same time. The intensive root systems appear immune to plant diseases. The aspen is not endangered and never will be. Even dormant root systems come back to life...especially after a forest fire clears out other growth and brings back the sun. The only natural enemy of the aspen are pocket gophers who, in abundance, can gnaw through root systems. But chopped up roots can still grow. The aspen turn gold earlier in the mountains than Denver, and we sure timed it right during our vacation in Vail.

 Have you ever seen aspen? Did you find any interesting facts today? 

Here's also a tad on my latest and final release (sob) in my Lawmen and Outlaws series:
Outlaw in Love.

Outlaw Ahab Perkins has run roughshod through many of my books at The Wild Rose Press, so I reckoned it time to settle down this charming bad boy and let him find his soul and true love.  Which he finally does in Outlaw in Love, last in a trilogy.

On the run from his gang, having robbed his own sister, outlaw Ahab Perkins has no place to go but good. He’d give his heart to Teresa in a single beat...if the beautiful woman in gray weren’t a...nun.

Unbeknownst, Teresa Avila is as wanted as Ahab, hiding out in disguise at a rundown mission. After her crimes and her evil stepfather’s abuse, she’s convinced she’s not good enough for any man, not even the outlaw she’s falling for.

Enter a burned-out homestead, an abandoned little girl and a kindly sheriff...can both find love as they guide their souls out of darkness?


  1. Your photos are wonderful. I have always loved them, the few I've seen in my life. They are very special, like many gold coins shining on the trees. I did not know some of the facts, but I did know they have a tough root system that allows them to return quickly from a forest fire.
    They truly are very beautiful.
    Thanks, Tanya.

    1. Celia, I've seen them quake in summetime, but in autumn was miraculous. I am still all but speechless a whole year later. Glory!

  2. Loved that book, Tanya. Loved all the facts about aspen, too.

  3. I had no idea that they were clones, nor the difference between birch and aspens. Love that they are so resilient and that they live in colonies. It's kinda like books: behind every book is not one author, but a whole colony of writers, supporters, and encouragers.

    And I count you as one of my encouragers, sweet friend. Love the beautiful photos of that shimmering gold, too. :)

    1. Oh, Angie. what a beautiful analogy! I couldn't make it without YOU! Glad you enjoyed the px...and I always thought aspen had to be related to birch.


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