Sometimes all it takes to clear the mind of distraction, sorrow, worry, weariness, and pessimism is the feeling of dew on my jeans, the sound of brown leaves folding beneath my feet, the rush of a scramble into a dry creek bed, and the glint of the sun through and in the trees.
It is impossible to capture the flicker of dew in the long grass, or to describe the captivating fragrance of the wet earth, a draught stronger than wine, the musk of earth, the sweet of grass, subtle and fresh and intangible. The flicker of scarlet and orange of berries clinging in the twigs of trees, the yellow of a fallen leaf. I wish I could put words to the changing touch of the air from shadowed ravine to sunny hillside – The chill kiss and the warm caress. Sometimes they blend – The warm caress of a breeze wafting into the cool of the ravine, or the chill wind curling and streaming into the warmth of a fragrant open trail.
The hum of bees blends with the whisper of wind in the pines, and the trail curves ahead and disappears from sight. The ground is dark with heavy dew and the green is greener, the gold golder, the brown browner, the red redder in the rich, warm light.
What a mystery, to be walking straight into the sun, which seems hardly to hover above the tops of the trees, the sky brilliant with light, but to be enveloped in cool, moist valley air, walking briskly and without effort – the mystery of autumn in the morning. Or to top a small rise, emerging from a twilight-shadowed creek bed, and find ahead a glowing warmly bank of red-gold brush and sheer wall of golden rock, the pine trees standing like sentinels against the line of sky – the mystery of autumn at dusk.
“The Heavens declare the glory of God,” the Bible says. “Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard,” said Standing Bear. Who can help but marvel at the silhouettes of trees against a lavender sky, the moon tangled in the evening branches of the reaching oaks? Who can harden the heart when the world around is glowing with life, and the air is ripe with sunshine and piney resin and heavy with the damp of morning? The clouds glow like gold in the fading sun, just dipped below the horizon, then turn to the dark of steel and sit heavy in the trees. The sky releases the last of its light with a sigh, a slumbering, sleepy, lazy breeze that quietly stirs the trees, and a few leaves drop.
How can I tame the wildness of the eerie howls of coyotes just over the hill, or calm the unbidden racing of my heart, relishing the delicious thrill of the woods at evening? How can I keep forever the ghostly beauty of the birch trees at twilight, and call to mind their silver glow? It is all too much, too beautiful.
What a glorious way to fire the imagination, to calm and awaken the soul, to revive the weary body. What a refreshing, reviving cup to drink from – The cup of God’s creation, the cup of the green earth. “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,” a man once said, thought to be Martin Luther, “but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” The dew in the morning, the bees flying low in the grass, the heavens and trees, the moon and lavender sky, the stones underfoot and the dying red of the cliffs in sunset all make it impossible for me to believe anything other than that this world was created by a loving, awesome, infinite God who is worthy of my worship and adoration.
“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” said Helen Keller.