We made a quick trip to Oregon on the train last week to help our daughter on some work projects since her husband has to be gone with his job for awhile. The main job involved sheetrocking, taping and mudding the bathroom and I wasn’t sure how my right arm would do since I am still having physical therapy after my shoulder surgery. Well, PTL, I survived and we were able to accomplish the task and had some quality time with our daughter and family and got to meet up with our son and family for lunch after church on Sunday and attend our grandson’s soccer game on Monday afternoon. We happened to catch the fall colors at their peak in the Portland area. The trees were so amazing with their many shades of yellow, orange and red. The trip on the train along the Columbia River through the gorge area was also spectacular with color.
Here in Libby, Montana our colors too are awesome, plus we have had a couple early snowfalls, so our colors are displayed against a background of white on the nearby mountains. We also have lots of Western Larch in the mountains. Larch are conifer trees like pines because they have needles rather than leaves and the seeds grow in cones. But unlike other pines, they are not evergreen but deciduous. Usually about the time that leafy deciduous trees are dropping their fall foliage, the larch needles begin to turn shades of yellow, orange, and gold, and after two to three weeks drop their needles to the forest floor. They stand out in stark contrast to the evergreens in the forest—the pines, fir, hemlock, cedar and spruce. Knowing that God is the maker of trees, as discussed in a recent “Wisdom of the Week,” causes me to feel a sense of awe and amazement at what a wonderful, designer our Creator God is.
We have three maple trees on our property and each displays different shades of yellow, orange and red, and even have some leaves that turn nearly purple—so beautiful! We love to bring in a few leaves to press and to display around the house as a reminder of the wonder of God’s creation. Leaves are nature’s food factories. Plants (including trees) take water from the ground through their roots. The stomata on the leaves then absorb carbon dioxide from the air and, with the use of sunlight, turn the water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates (glucose/sugar) in a process called photosynthesis (which means “putting together with light). “The balance of the oxygen content of the air so essential to all life on earth is controlled to a large extent by the growth process of plants and trees. (Wonder who thought of that!) It is also this discharge of oxygen into the atmosphere which gives the special quality of purity and freshness to forest and mountain air. There is an exciting invigoration and keen stimulation to the atmosphere of forested country. Most of us are acquainted with the perfume-like pungency of a forest that is breathing deeply of summer air.” (As a Tree Grows by Phillip Keller, pp. 41,42).
A chemical called chlorophyll helps make the photosynthesis process take place in the leaves. It is also Chlorophyll that gives leaves (and larch needles) their green color. As summer ends and autumn arrives, the days get shorter and the nights cooler and the trees know to get ready for winter—because that is how God designed them! During winter there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves, and as the green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange leaves. Some amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along but were covered up by the green chlorophyll. The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool autumn nights cause the leaves to turn this glucose into red and purple. The fall browns of some trees, like oak, are made from wastes left in the leaves. The combination of all these things make the beautiful fall foliage colors we enjoy each year to remind us of what a mighty God we serve. If He has such an ingenious plan for plants and trees, enabling them to grow and bear fruit and also display such beauty as well as providing the oxygen we need to survive, just think of what an amazing plan He has for us, enabling us to live and to bear fruit for Him. As Phillip Keller points out in his book As a Tree Grows, just as God provides the water and carbon dioxide and sunlight and chlorophyll for plants and trees to live and grow and produce fruit, so He has provided for us living water (The Holy Spirit… Jn. 4:10-14; 7:37-39) and the water of His Word (Eph. 5:25,26). He has also provided us with “Son Light,” (love from the “Light of the World,” Jesus Christ…Jn. 8:12). As we stay connected (abide) in Him, we grow and bear fruit—and show the beauty of Christ in us.
I trust that you too are experiencing “Autumn Amazement.”