Saturday, September 29, 2012

Orange Trees

I took a little drive up into the mountains to see the changing colors. As I stood taking pictures, I heard three women approaching on the trail behind me. "Ooh, orange tree!" one said to the others. Of all the silly things, that quote has stayed with me. Now I've been asking myself: why did I go out of my way to take pictures of orange trees? I suppose the obvious answer is because they're pretty. But why? What is it about them? I've seen trees before, and I've seen the color orange. With other people and places and tasks calling for my attention, what drew me to the mountain on that day?

I don't do this in spring, after all. When spring approaches, I'm itching to see green. My soul aches for signs of new life. I celebrate the shaggy lawn, send pictures of new apricot blossoms to my husband at work, stand in the middle of gardens and forests to close my eyes and breathe the air. But that is spring, and this is fall. In the fall, the beautiful green is mere background to the main event -- the reds, oranges, and yellows.

Autumn beauty is of a different kind. It feels more contemplative, pensive. It brings to mind life and loss and legacy. The world around us is always changing, and we ourselves are changing, too. The mountain colors drew me on that day to the significance of story, and they called me to hold loosely that which is temporary.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

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