LE FLORE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – As the light fades on shorter days, and the summer growing season, the Ouachita Mountains rise up gently on the southern boundary of the Arkansas River Valley.
Fall leaves show yellow first in elm and hickory trees. Reds follow in oak, sumac, and sweet gum.
Carl Albert College Professor, Kody Tackett, grew up in Bokoshe, hunting deer and marveling at fall colors on his walks through the woods.
“There is a phenomenon called Photoperiodism that describes the shorter periods of daylight,” he informs us. “This is a special time of year for me.”
He remained interested enough in the show to learn a lot more about what happens when the days get shorter and those bright colors appear.
“The yellows appear first most of the time,” he states. “This is because of a chemical called Carotinid. Then, later on, a chemical called Anthocyanin gives trees like oaks their dark red, purple, or brown colors.”
In the classroom, he teaches students about environmental science, soils, and proper sampling.
When the leaves of Le Flore County reached their absolute peak earlier in November of 2023, they took a field trip into the mountains to see for themselves.
He gushes, “I got to see an absolutely gorgeous panorama of southern Le Flore County.”
Tackett figures this was a good year, but fleeting.
A sudden cold snap, then a good breeze and the pretty leaves fell quietly to the ground.
We just missed it, he laments.
But this part of the state still has just enough to show us on a late afternoon, on the slopes south of the college, and on Cavanal Hill.
For people who have to travel to see it, getting here at just the right time and place is difficult.
But even missing by a little still makes for a pretty good show.
Great State is sponsored by Oklahoma Proton Center