It has finally started to cool off here for autumn. I do love autumn although each season holds its own joy and glory. God gives us so many gifts if we take the time to see them and experience them in full. I love the way the trees change in every fashion. The leaves changing from every hue of green to a spectrum bursting with every color mankind can perceive. They reach the apex of their existence, pulsating with the crescendo of their entire lives into one final display of beauty. Their final act is the graceful descent of each leaf to the forest floor where they will provide life sustaining nutrients to the next generations. But it is not only the leaves that change. If your hand caresses the trunk or branches of a tree in all four seasons you will feel a distinct difference in texture and tension in the bark. in Spring, it is velvety and supple as the water has been drawn through its roots to nourish the leaves, seeds and fruits of any given tree. The river of water is being drawn up into each vein until it reaches the canopy. That gives the tree flexibility needed for growth. The summer season solidifies it’s strength allowing it to withstand the fierce storms that serve as threshers of the weak or those whose roots have not dug down deeply enough to hold fast to the earth.
Autumn is not a prelude to it’s death or long sleep as many perceive it but it is a culmination of two seasons of growth, fruition, experience, and hardiness. It is during autumn that the tree is able to spend everything it has collected in an effort to prepare for the next generations. It is spending considerable effort to build storage wares for the long winter ahead, deny nutrients to parts of itself that have proven weak, destructive, or useless. Everything is moving at a slower pace but the strength is building. The perseverance and fortitude is at an all-time high because it does not have to prepare for the possible as there are only inevitable occurrences in its lifecycle. Of course, there are always outside forces that could interrupt, change or halt its progression in some manner but it only knows to continue. If cut down, its stump will bud. If insect or disease hit then its seeds have already carried its lineage forward to places far from harm. If drought or flood should move in then it may retreat until the environment is welcoming once again but it always moves forward, beyond the now into an uncertain and unknown future because that is what it was created to do. Even if its wood is used to create something for our use, it is then transformed and its life has more meaning than it had to begin with. Consider how many important choices are made by mankind sitting in a wooden chair at a wooden table. Life never leaves the tree regardless of what transformation it undergoes.
Yes, autumn finds the tree a bit more ridged. Its bark is rougher and the water rivers within it have slowed down. No longer will its life blood flow just beneath the surface; instead, it is retreating to a depth that will allow the nutrients to sustain the tree but make it durable against the cold that promises to come. The smell of the wood and fallen leaves is not one of rotting decay as one would encounter in a bog, marsh or swamp but a retreat of life that is simply blown by the wind. The fragrance is now mature, a rich seasoned wood odor that fills the senses with comfort and sense of security.
The branches are losing their flexibility and instead are becoming stalwarts of strength to sustain the cold to come. There is usually a lull in storms during this time so that it has opportunity to build defenses against the winter storms that will come. By the hour of the first snow fall the bark has turned to armor. It is ready to face the brutality of the winter gale keeping it’s precious lifeblood locked securely within. Branches no longer bend with the storms; instead, the tree groans against the onslaught. It’s creaking can be heard clearly as it buffets the bitter winds as you lay comfortably in your warm cozy bed made from one of it’s brothers…perhaps?
Twigs and even branches that could not hold on another moment bounce haphazardly atop your roof tapping upon your windows entreating you for respite. Nevertheless, you remain snuggled beneath piles of warm blankets awaiting the cessation of the howling winds. Once the storm has passed and you might think you would find disaster after the tempest …they remain, the trees, although battered, remain. You pull back your curtain revealing an ice laden window pane. Blowing upon it creates an oval birthed by the warmth of your breath. Your eyes are filled with the snow and ice laden landscape. The crown and glory of which is surely the grand trees holding millions upon millions of ice diamonds within their branches. God fashioned beauty created from chaos and a monument to his utter majesty and love.
There is silence. Silence so complete, so loud that it hurts your ears. The tree stands proud for it has withstood time upon time of life’s endless joys and heartaches, abundance and want, life anew and death replenished. It is a monument glistening as if from some ethereal plain in a majestic culmination of its existence. The trees have seen it, experienced it, known it and are certain of certainty. There is no tomorrow, there is only now and we must work as diligently in the today as we are not given tomorrow. The trees teach us much if we listen, if we see, if we pursue to know more beyond ourselves. They are a gift of knowledge and experience if we stop long enough to listen.
Of course, that only speaks to the tree itself and not to all the lives whose existence is dependent upon it’s survival. Some have learned to grow and change with the tree itself knowing that a symbiotic relationship with it is one that is the most beneficial to all. Others only take without giving and still others are only interested in destroying what they cannot understand or have for themselves. The saddest of all are those who are blind to the beauty, strength and majesty of these glorious gifts to creation. I am grateful for the trees and my ability to see beyond only me.