Autumn delivers its wonder I never mind the changing of the seasons

Sep 28, 2017 by Betty Starks Case

Did you see the gorgeous rainbow that emerged from dark clouds to light up our skies last Friday?

Appreciating the moisture but tired of dark days, I screamed, "Come look! Quick!"

My shout brought my snoozing mate from his easy chair.

I don't know what he might have envisioned out behind our house, but after all these years he anticipates action when nature's wonder hits me. It moves him, too.

I grabbed my hooded raincoat and ran outside. Was this a sign that the rainy weather was nearing a change? That we might now be gifted with a long and beautiful autumn? The kind Wyomingites have grown to believe is their due?

The calendar says it is autumn.

That means an exciting physical change is about to take place in our world.

It means I may soon have to grab a jacket before I race out to gasp at the bright colored leaves on our back yard apricot tree, maybe snap a picture for my digital photo library.

Actually, the wonder had already begun.

A week ago, we'd wakened to frost on the roof of our garage. For we who live nearer the river, frost always seems to visit us before the weather bureau up on the hill predicts it.

That Sunday morning the frost lay briefly on the roof, then suddenly morphed onto a dense fog that hid the driving-range trees behind our house in a white shroud. Just as quickly the sun sucked up the fog and it became a clear, sunny day.

Often this time of year, we hear people say, "I hate to see the seasons change."

I see wonder in change.

To paraphrase an article from the New York Times, "Why, since all this is expected every year, does it come as a surprise?"

"The answer is," continues the Times article, "that autumn is really a matter of the heart, and the heart is a sucker for surprises."

Maybe that's why, after the cooling air and frost have finished their display of artistic talent on trees, vines and grasses and yielded them to Earth's next move, I begin to appreciate the forms revealed in the undressed plants of nature.

I love color. But why would we think color is the birth and death of nature's art?

To the discerning eye - and maybe the sucker heart - color now yields to shapes, contour becomes important, phantom figures may emerge.

Barren limbs, joints and trunks of trees now boldly claim their part in the artistry of nature.

I was once asked to provide autumn table décor for a church dinner. The typical fall colors were gone. I felt drawn to country roads where wild grasses and weeds displayed their unique art in designs that could not be seen until color faded.

I remembered how the Rev. Maggie Kahin, the subject of my first book, responded to a scraggly old dead tree standing alone in the middle of her now famous Ring Lake Ranch where ecumenical retreats would be conducted for worldwide participants.

"What are you going to do with that old tree?" I asked.

"It will remain right where it is," Maggie declared. "Living and dying are both part of life. The tree will be a symbol."

Maybe that's why Maggie wanted me to tell her story. We seemed to share a similar understanding of nature's part in our world.

Or is it our part in nature's world?

Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, once observed, "In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous."

To help you understand all this (and me) I'll end with a note I once wrote. It's called "Grabbed by a Tree."

"Dear Tree - I'm deeply gratified to you for providing paper and pencil for recording my response to life. Without you, I might be inscribing my work laboriously in stone. God knows I'd be compelled to do it some way.

"Though you grabbed me early on, I wouldn't change a thing. In rustling majesty you've wafted the winds of Earth's wonder over me, told me of eternity in your silent story of life.

'Your limbs embrace myriads of birds, a delight to my eyes, a song to my ears, a reminder that I too can fly in my own way.

"You've taught me that like you I must create new branches, new directions in order to grow. You continue to beckon me. I can think of no greater good fortune in life than to be grabbed by a tree!"