One of the most iconic things about Tufts (besides Jumbo, of course) is the autumn scenery on campus. Tufts’ Medford location provides for prime New England fall conditions, including, but not limited to, crisp blue skies, hues of red, orange, yellow, and sometimes even purple, and seemingly never-ending leaf piles (until they are swept away for the winter *crying face*).
When the leaves first started to change here on campus, there was one tree in particular that no one could get enough of. If you’re a current student at Tufts, you know which tree I’m talking about. That red tree on the academic quad. You know, that tree.
This tree was the most famous perennial on campus for the two weeks that it glowed like a summer sunset. It was splattered across everyone’s snapchat stories, Instagram feeds, and Facebook photo albums. I asked my friends if they had any pictures of the tree. Here’s a fraction of the responses I got.
So, we all know we like fall colors. I grew up in New England, and the changing of the leaves has always been my favorite time of year. But why? What is it about those deep organic colors that we’re so attracted to? They’re beautiful, that’s for sure, but why do we, as humans, like beautiful things?
I became interested in the subject of the perception of beauty as an evolutionary trait when we started learning about beautiful design in my engineering class, How To Design Things That People Use. Scientists think that perception of beauty developed as a way to keep people attracted to things that would help them survive. An example of this might be plush green grass. Californians in particular know that a healthy, vibrant lawn requires a lot of water, and so in the wild, healthy grass is a clue that there is an abundant supply of naturally flowing water nearby. Being drawn to this grass as early humans meant that they were close to a water source, which increased their chance of survival. Basically, seeing beauty in particular things played a part in the survival of the human race. Pretty cool, huh?
Finding the leaves and trees on the Tufts campus beautiful probably won’t save any lives (or midterm grades… yikes), but they sure are nice to look at, and it’s fascinating to think that something as complex and built up as beauty might stem from evolutionary survival traits. Now, enjoy some aesthetically pleasing fall photos of Tufts, courtesy of my fall-loving friends.
Special thanks to my friends Isabel Silverston and Danny Knight for the pictures!