“It’s just a vision of loveliness,” Gramma Best would often say. No wonder of nature was lost on her. Crab apple blossoms in the spring, magnolias, crepe myrtle, her special roses, Grampa’s tulip tree, and even succulent flowers. I’ve heard her in my mind day after day this beautiful autumn here in Central Wyoming as visions of magnificent loveliness have continued for weeks on end, dangling fleeting beauty in gardens, orchards, mountains and all over our towns.
Two years ago the Labor Day snowstorm of 8” tore down branches and split our favorite shade tree to the ground. Some years, early deep frosts nip instantly, transforming autumn to dismal blacks and browns long before we’ve soaked in our fill of loveliness. The only fall colors were those purchased at Hobby Lobby. This year those damaging blights missed our area, leaving us blessed beyond measure with vibrant colors, seeming as if each leaf has its own internal glowing light. A light constantly reminding of the creator of All Things Bright and Beautiful.
For me it’s easy to describe these autumn-joy foliage hues as delicious foods; apple red, cranberry, eggplant, beet, carrot, pumpkin, apricot, yellow squash, lemon, lime, and dark zucchini. Oh my, the vines, bushes, trees, and even prairie grasses are food for the soul in fleeting moments of golden evening gloaming.
cDad was up hunting last weekend so I made Sunday dinner for Mom and drove to Douglas. She and I headed to the North Platte River Walk for an afternoon stroll (via a showy red maple on 6th street).
In the breezy sunshine, all our senses were alive among the golden cottonwoods and willows as we meandered along the trail! Honking geese in a nearby field echoed across the graceful curves of the river as others bobbed in the water.
Earthy smells were at every turn. Gnarly twisted trunks resembled animals and reptiles. Ferny green asparagus waved here and there among dead grasses. A hollow log hid secrets inside.
Invasive vines choked other vegetation while their intricate stringy yet fluffy seeds seemed possible fractals of a nebula.
Berries tiny and large, white and red, clustered on stems along a smelly drainage. Angular milkweed pods bumpy like a horned toad stabbed the air, begging to be noticed. Velvet brown cattails poofed into white puffs at the tips, having been spent after a hot dry summer.
We walked unhurriedly, bundled up against an ominous nip in the air – greeting bikers and walkers both human and canine. Those magical moments lasted as far as the trail and back. Our long afternoon shadows from the southern slanted sun preceded us to where the car was parked just beyond a bridge pylon splattered in muddy swallow nests.
After Swiss steak and mashed potatoes followed by two close games of Yahtzee, we said our goodbyes and I took my leave, literally driving off into the brilliant sunset. That landscape, so familiar since my early youth literally shone with beauty! I’m well aware that no moment is ever exactly duplicated so one must drink it in as a once-in-a-lifetime treasure. The deep stark shadows of hills and plateaus contrasted with dried blowing grasses like a mist in the low spots – all with glowing golden trees in the creek bottoms under a changing pastel sky. Breathtaking. Humbling. Powerful. Holy.
These were moments never to be forgotten. Mom had clipped a few berries and a pod to identify in her well-worn field book. She has given me gifts of curiosity, wonder, life-long learning and being a generous giver. Words can’t express my feelings of thankfulness. I see in her, an octogenarian of waning years, with profound wisdom, gratitude born of faith, and simplicity so worthy of embracing – giving deeper meaning to Gramma’s vision of loveliness.
Psalm 104:24 “O Lord, how manifold are they works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”
Psalm 96:11-12 “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.”
Job 12:7-10 “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”