God draped our woods with Jacob’s coat while I soul stripped on the edge of the Frio.
The countryside explodes with color.
“Aren’t the trees just beautiful? I can’t get over how they popped while I was in Texas.”
Grace agrees. “But you know they’re dying, right? The colors mean they’re dying.”
We’ve pulled into the garage, and I shut off the Journey, ponder this. “You’re right.” I pause and look at her. “Then I guess there’s beauty in dying.”
She shrugs. “You didn’t know that?”
Yet I know that’s not entirely true. There can be a kind of beauty, especially for those of us who know that death is not really death. But even so, death often strikes sudden, hollow and horrific. The dying process can be messy. And painful. And ugly. And heartwrenching.
They say deciduous trees start autumn preparations in spring. And the leaves will carry out their work for such a time as this, this one season, this one moment in time.
They absorb light and spill life into the whole bark-covered body so the tree grows deep and wide and tall.
Shorter days stimulate system shutdown. Green chlorophyll that flooded and covered yellow and orange pigments recedes, and the leaves display their true colors.
The brilliant reds and crimsons and purples, those colors result from trapped glucose, sugar sweetness. The delicious hues come from anthocyanins, antioxidants that provide a level of protection and help keep leaves alive just a little longer, infusing food until they finally fall. The intensity of blaze depends on the weather variations.
The browns? They result from tannin, a bitter waste product that remains in the leaf.
When their work is finished, the leaves fall, decompose, restock the soil with nutrients, help it hold water. Nothing of life wasted. The tree rests, the cycle goes on, hope reigns.
But as they approach the end of life, it seems their brilliance hinges on light absorbed and food stored.
And red is the truest color of autumn.
The color of hope.