I grew up in the Texas Panhandle. The county I lived in had a chain link fence around and an historical marker by the first tree planted in the county – and no I am not kidding. There were no massively tall trees from centuries of growth. I grew up in a flat, hot, dry place that had its own kind of beauty – but fall was not a time for beauty. It always seemed to me that one day the trees were full of amazingly beautiful green leaves and the next day they turned brown. I have been told that the ground water levels and extreme heat just do not support slow, gradual color changes in the fall. (I know it also has something to do with the changing length of days, cooler temperatures, and chlorophyll changes.) So fall was not a time of the year that I spent much time thinking about – it was a time for football and cooler weather but not much else.
As an adult I moved to Kansas City, MO to attend seminary. It was a beautiful early fall day and I was riding with my seminary roommate to a store when it happened – I screamed and she almost wrecked the car. She asked quickly – “what happened?” I could barely speak to answer. I had screamed because I saw the most amazing thing I had ever seen – and I still remember it vividly to this day. What I saw was an entire hillside of blazing colors. I had seen pictures of fall leaves in magazines. I had seen fall leaves on TV and in movies. But I had NEVER seen them for myself. I was overwhelmed. I was stunned. I was awestruck. It took my breath away. I was so overwhelmed that I just sat in tears looking at the glorious colors.
It was the most beautiful and spectacular sight of my life. Red, purple, maroon, yellow, and orange blazed with stunning glory. To this day I pull over when I see the first fall foliage and take pictures. The leaves simply leave me breathless. They are the thing I look forward to more than anything else in nature. My eyes and heart long for them each year. My spirit soars when I see them.
And I am not the only one. There are websites that track the color changes for “leaf peepers” to know where and when to see the colors. There are apps for smartphones so that you have the changes at your fingertips on the go. One of the most amazing things about fall colors is the short duration of the spectacular colors. They do not last very long and that makes them ever more special.
Those beautiful fall moments make me pause, praise the Creator, and enjoy the breathtaking colors. I love fall and fall colors! I also love that God has gifted us with a creation that screams at us to notice, calls on us to pay attention, and needs our care. May we notice more often, gaze with awe, and care more deeply in all things we see and do!
Thank you, God, for the gift of fall.