For seven months of the year, we tend to take trees for granted. In Southern New Jersey particularly, the notion of driving by hundreds of these majestic creations is something taken as matter of fact .
But come October, the trees announce their presence in earnest; they herald their existence in exclamations too loud to miss. Like tragic heroes about to die, they make their presence known in a most dramatic fashion.
Lining our roadsides in large numbers, sassafras trees give a wide variety of colors come the fall. These trees paint with a palette that encompasses anything from light green to deep red.
Unlike the other wildlife I like to observe, trees sit still long enough to let me make my judgments about their aesthetic appeal. At times, they seem straight and narrow, as plain as any other tree.
But viewed from underneath, the leaves become a dazzling kaleidoscope of bewildering reds and greens.
This black gum shows the typical fall foliage of the species; various shades of red, usually leaning toward the darker shade of the spectrum.
And here's a close up view of black gum leaves:
But these creatures of beauty are not just pretty faces. This winged sumac shrub provides valuable seeds for migrating songbirds. This particular shrub shows the grapple between life and death, summer and autumn.
Trees are valuable to God as well. He references them numerous times in the writing of his word; whether it's comparing the strength of a nation to the cedars of lebanon, or comparing the strength of the godly to a tree planted by a river, it's hard to get away from these wondrous creations in God's testament.
We should be thankful for this time of year; a time when God lets his less appreciated creation strut their stuff. We also need the reminder about how crucial these trees are to our well being.
They absorb sunlight in large amounts, letting us enjoy their shade.
They give us the wood with which we shelter just about everything we hold dear.
They produce the oxygen necessary for survival, giving off the breath of God.
And these few reasons barely scratch the surface of the benefits given by these sleeping giants. We have much to praise God for in the gift of these woody beauties.
And if the awe and wonder of a sassafras tree gone up in metaphorical flames were the only reason to give thanks, that would be reason enough.