In Illinois, almost all the trees would turn their colors at once – First one or two small trees, young trees, would change to yellow or orange or red, and then the whole body of the trees would burst into color, flamboyant and showy and with the unmistakable spirit of autumn.
Here, the color comes differently. Most of our trees here are pine – Constant green throughout the year, no matter the season. But slowly, slowly, the birch trees, clustered together in little groves, take on the glow of fall.
Today on the way home from church, Sarah and I dawdled our way through Custer State Park, enjoying Iron Mountain Road and other side roads, and time after time, my breath was swept away by the sheer glory of the birch trees. As we drove through the winding mountain roads, the 4:00 sun filtered through the pines, casting shifting shadows through the pillar trunks. Even in the sun, the pines look dark. But just around a corner or over a hill, the whole landscape would change, suddenly a gold of such intensity the wood itself seemed to be glowing. The white birch trunks reflected the light, glinting paler through the pale fire of the trees.
A camera can only partially capture the changing, sparkling beauty of the golden autumn, the golden flame in the heart of the woods.