A warm sweater drapes on your shoulders, hot cider steams from its mug ... it's official, the frost is coming. This weekend, forecasters are expecting Champaign-Urbana to receive its first frost of the season. You know what that means, the tender plants die off and the hardy ones tolerate it. For one tree in particular, the ginkgo tree, will lose all of its yellow leaves when the first frost comes.
My journalism professor, an outdoor enthusiast, took all of us students out to the ginkgo tree just outside our classroom, and taught us about her favorite tree. We learned that this ancient Chinese tree changes color almost over night. She said that when the first frost of the year comes, the leaves quickly change from green to yellow within a day or two. After they change, the leaves literally fall like rain for one day. She said that it's a true phenomenon any curious student would appreciate.
To celebrate this christening of color, my professor offered a little incentive. If we film ourselves among the falling ginkgo leaves, we get extra credit! There are two trees within close proximity to our classroom; I'll do a little dance and BAM! Extra credit here I come.
However, it's not just the bonus points that are attractive, it's the knowledge I learned about the trees that help prevent dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Like the birds and the bees, these trees are male and female -- the females bearing a smelly little fruit I always thought was the nearby trash can. The fruit's seeds are traditionally consumed in Chinese meals for added health benefits in dishes like Buddha's Delight. Mmmm.
My mom is right -- you really do learn something every day, especially when some extra credit is thrown in the mix.