The Colors of the Seasons
Seasons come and seasons go but here in the southeast, the change of seasons is often remarkable for the colors that each season brings to nature. Each season the landscapes change and take on a new personality. These new personalities often call our attention to things we may not have noticed in the prior season. If you have ever photographed a favorite place at different times of the year, you probably know what I mean.
To observe a landscape at different times of the year is to remind ourselves that in nature, change is constant. Nature understands that there is a time to push forth newness and growth and a time to retire into restorative, dormant silence. In nature, the seasons provide balance. When there is drought in one season, another will provide the badly needed rain or snow. When there is too much moisture, the next season may be hot and dry. Yes, in nature, the seasons understand their relationship to each other and they work in ways that humans often misunderstand to provide for the soil, the plant life, and the four legged creatures too. Yes, in nature all things are relative and that is where we will begin to talk about color.
Colors of Spring
For many of us, the thought of Spring signals a burst of color from flowering trees and flowers. Here in central Virginia, the deep amethyst purple and butter-cream yellow crocus are the first flowers that signal Spring’s imminent arrival. On their heels are the daffodils who appear in shades ranging from vanilla to bright maize. Both of these brave little flowers will weather the last of the winter snows with determination and courage. These little sentinels understand that soon they will be joined by the tiny white flowers of the Bradford Pear and the blood-stained petals on the Dogwood will appear against a backdrop of Dodger-blue skies. These gifts of nature understand their relationship to the changing seasons and are happy to be the symbols of change and renewal.
Spring ColorsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Colors of Summer
In nature, the color of the grass is relative to the amount of snow that fell in Winter and the volume of rain that came with the arrival of Spring. When there is abundant moisture, the grass may range from rich chartreuse to deep emerald green. A lack of significant moisture also tells its story when the grass of Spring ranges from apple to olive green. The flowers of summer do not pale for the lack of moisture though. No, this is another example of the balance of nature. The summer flowers have a role to play and they are not daunted by dry, arid conditions. The Iris stand tall in shades of royal blue, soft thistle, or bright magenta. The peonies bend with the weight of their big bold blossoms of white tipped in shades of rose and tulips pop with every bright, bold color of the spectrum. In nature, where one is lacking, there is another that shines. It is the balance and the colors of summer represent nature at its best.
Summer ColorsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Colors of Autumn
Autumn is the time when nature begins preparing for it’s Winter sleep. Again, we find the balance as some things begin and some will end. The flow of sap that is the lifeblood of the trees increases and the maples produce the wonderful, sweet syrup we love. The flowers and grasses, however, will begin to draw nutrients from the earth to sustain them through the coming months. They begin to conserve their energy, growth diminishes, and colors begin to fade. That, is the balance in nature. And there is more.
When the flowers of summer begin to fade in Autumn, the trees assume the role of color-makers. As the days of Autumn grow shorter, the trees begin to produce less chlorophyll and more sugars. In summer, the production of chlorophyll is at its highest level and the result is our enjoyment of the shade of those deep, green leaves. In Autumn though, the production of sugars is higher than the level of chlorophyll which produces the colors we associate with Autumn. The natural colors of the trees appear and range from bright yellow to tangerine to ruby red. Nature is the master of artistry and balance and nowhere is it more evident than in Autumn.
- Autumn In the Blue Ridge Mountains
There is nothing prettier than the change of seasons here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Come on in and enjoy a taste of the Blue Ridge.
Autumn ColorsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Colors of Winter
The color most associated with winter is white and according to Wikipedia, “white is the color most often associated with innocence, perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, lightness, and exactitude”. How perfect that nature gave us a season of these qualities. Winter is a time to put away the old and begin our preparation for the new. Just as light is reflected from the surface of winter snows, winter provides us the opportunity to reflect and prepare for new challenges. But winter also gives us shades of gray, from light ash to dark taupe, in the branches of the trees who have shed their leaves and stand brave and naked against the cold winds of winter. The grays of winter speak to neutrality, of finding our center once again. This too is nature’s way of providing balance.
Winter ColorClick thumbnail to view full-size
- About God and God Things
God exists in all things, all the time, and in every place. God is an artist, a poet, a counselor, and a musician. We can be students of God and God-Things by choice.
The Colors in Nature
One cannot cover all the colors in nature in a single writing. The colors in nature are the work of the master artist, the one we call by many names. Our human nature cannot fully comprehend the complexity of the palette that creates the colors of a landscape or the patterns in a sky. It is beyond our capacity to recreate the true colors of a rainbow or to understand the balance between chlorophyll and sugars. We are incapable of words that accurately describe the colors of the seasons but we try. We try because we are grateful for the gift of vision. We try because we too are the work of the master artist and because we know that if we never experience the cold white of winter, we would not have the capacity to appreciate the warm winds of summer. It is the balance.