There is a wonderful transformation that takes place this time of year, changing what is common into what is precious, from emerald and black to crimson and gold. It was the rumor of gold that first brought the white man into the Black Hills in the 1870s, late in the era of the gold rush. But whatever precious metals they found while digging in the ground and panning in the streams, these riches outstrip them all, though they fade in a mere handful of days. It is the metamorphosis of autumn.The miracle of autumn is one which I am firmly convinced is entirely for our joy and God’s glory. God didn’t have to create the bounties of autumn color – The trees could simply turn brown and lose their leaves. But God in His sovereign goodness gave us the tapestry of the seasons, including the fleeting glories of autumn.
The Hole-in-the-Wall trail is festive in gold and green and crimson, the entire trail lined with hardwood trees in a mighty array of autumn colors. The higher hillsides are pine and so never change, but in the ravines the aspens and burr oaks and other hardwood trees and shrubs flourish, and are now painted their various hues of gold and crimson and yellow.
When the evening sun shines from over the mountains, the aspens are lit up like torches, glowing and burning. Rocky hillsides are illuminated with the flaming color of the trees. Driving along our already beautiful highways, my breath is swept away, when around a corner is suddenly revealed a golden hillside, or glowing ravine, or a roadside lined with brilliant color.I took a drive down Rockerville Road, and explored a couple of side roads. The sights were glorious, and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud in delight! Springtime is wonderful, summer is rambunctious, but to catch the leaves in the prime of their autumn color is pure bliss. Roadside wildflowers are a riot of reds and golds, with a touch of purple here and there. Those, too, will soon fade, and all that will be left is the memory of the color, and the simple elegance of the dried stems and flower heads.Now, I understand that the color we revel in here isn’t the spectacular display of color we used to enjoy in Illinois, or the color that is legendary further east. But the subtlety of the transformation of the Hills is part of the allure. The mystery of autumn is heightened by its very temporariness. We aren’t two days into autumn and the colors are already fading from their peak three days ago. What a gift, to be able to enjoy such beauty, even for so short a time. For soon, and even now, the color will fade, the gold will glimmer away, and the life of summer will become the chill rest of winter.
Medieval alchemists were fascinated by the mythological concept of the transformation of common metals into gold. But what a delight, the alchemy of the seasons, the metamorphosis of the world around us, God’s created order that simply shouts His glory, and the Gospel story itself! What more wonderful metamorphosis, than the transformation of wretched sinners into redeemed Believers in Christ! Not only the tiny parable in the gold of autumn, taking that which is common and making it precious, but the larger parable of death and renewal, of decay and new life, pictured in the metamorphosis of the seasons.
Laura, what a gifted child of God you are!! These entries just get better and better AND the photography! You need to publish them into book form. Blessings! We love you.
Thank you so much, Bonnie. 🙂 It is always fun to hear that the blog blesses other people – It is something I have been blessed by, simply because I love photography and writing, but it is delightful to hear other people enjoy it as well. I miss you both!!
Laura, beautiful pictures and well written. Your descriptions are always colorful, as are you pictures taken capturing the beauty of early fall in the Black Hills. It is a true blessing to truly see and enjoy your surroundings!
Thank you, Mary! Thanks for continuing to read! Look forward to seeing you next time you’re in the Hills.
Some of you may have noticed that the article title changed and some minor adjustments were made to the content. When I originally titled it “Alchemy,” I was making reference to the Medieval pseudo-scientific thought that it was possible to change something common into a precious metal, but I realized after doing a little more reading that alchemy is also a part of Eastern practices/religion, and also has some significance in New Age thought, neither of which beliefs are consistent with my own. In order that there wouldn’t be any confusion or anyone mistakenly thinking that I was trying to be religiously synchronistic, or trying to meld Christian beliefs with pagan thinking, I retitled the piece and made sure that my reference to the theory of alchemy couldn’t be assumed to be anything other than a reference to Medieval pseudo-science. Thanks for reading. 🙂