Carlson is among many Environmental Protection Agency officers studying the gruesome leaf behavior that began in mid-September. The initial shock came when certain types of trees exhibited spots of red, yellow and orange coloration. Now, as the leaves plummet to their death, the officer’s worst fear has been confirmed.
“This is without a doubt a cry for help,” Carlson said. “I’ve been researching tree behavior in central Minnesota for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. Obviously, it has something to do with global warming or that darn polar vortex. Either way, it’s a man-made problem and we must do everything we can to correct it.”
While Carlson searches for the source of this problem, tree-loving citizens of St. Cloud are organizing a last-ditch effort to remedy the situation.
“We’ve asked hundreds of volunteers to grab a can of green paint, a ladder and some tape,” project leader Art Murray said. “One by one, we are going to paint these leaves green and put them back where they belong. Just yesterday we fixed an poor maple tree whose leaves turned a disgusting orange color and fell all over the ground.”
The recovery project is slow and extremely dangerous, as several volunteers have fallen from their ladders, but continues on despite the overwhelming task at hand.
“I know we are doing the right thing, but it seems like for every leaf I tape back on the tree three more fall in its place,” volunteer Tom Bombodil said. “I got involved when my oak tree got sick and turned yellow. It started spitting leaves all over my yard, and then the neighborhood kids raked them into a pile and started jumping in them like some sort of game. I’d never been so ashamed in my life.”
90-year St. Cloud resident Sven Olafson claims the leaves acted this way in the 1930’s and there is nothing to worry about, but his black and white photographs weren’t enough to convince the EPA.
“This seems like a local problem right now, but wait a couple weeks,” the EPA announced in an official statement. “We predict that soon the epidemic will spread and leaves all over the Midwest will get sick and die. While recovery projects like the one in St. Cloud are a good start, we need to find the root of this problem and fix it.”