North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

    When I first remember running the red dirt roads through the woodlands near my home, I recall a section of the woods that had several colorful trees growing near the edge of the trail. They stood out because most of the trees growing there are pines. The colors were brilliant, and I’ll never forget that scene and the impression it made upon me.    Trees fascinate me. While growing up, I climbed them, hid behind them, and called them home base when playing games with my friends. And to me they were an important part of my formative years. I think I appreciate them more today, as I have learned their critical role in nature and how they provide for our daily needs. Having a fondness for trees, I was recently saddened when a huge oak tree, near our house, succumbed to the strong winds of Hurricane Sally. I heard the sound as it was uprooted and fell to the ground. It was such a sad sight to see and there was a sense of grief I felt when I saw it lying there for the first time. We called it the “Grand Daddy” of all oaks.

    Allow me to share some general, yet sentimental thoughts about trees this time of year.

    If you take a walk in the autumn woods of northwest Florida, you will discover most of the trees stay green year round—it’s their “evergreen nature” to do so. However, there are a few who dazzle us with that colorful fall glory.

    In my woodland excursions I search for these special trees, and they’re not hard to find as many of them stand out due to their unique colors. You know the kind—those dazzling dappled colors of autumn—colors ranging from red-orange, to scarlet, crimson, purple, and golden yellow. The brilliant colors contrast sharply with the background of the pines and a bright blue sky. When I was a young boy, I was so taken back by their beauty, I once told myself I was going to plant a whole forest of these trees so that I could enjoy them as I got older.

    The trees found in the Blue Ridge Mountains are no stranger to this colorful curtain of nature, but the landscape of Florida is only sprinkled with a patch of them here and there. And the ones that do grow here often have their colors delayed due to the first frost that often comes well past Thanksgiving.

    As I stood their reflecting on the demise of our “Grand Daddy” oak, I begin to think about all the green leaves that had ever been produced by this giant. Each leaf takes in raw materials called water and carbon dioxide. It gets these from the soil and air and changes them into nourishment. A tree is a leaf factory, because these leaves use a green substance called chlorophyll in the manufacturing process. Each little factory also manufactures something called pigment. The pigment causes a leaf to change its color. The pigment spreads through the leaf, mixing with the green of the chlorophyll to produce most of the autumn colors.

    Many of the surrounding trees along the trails and paths I frequent, like willows, hickories, ash, and poplars, don’t produce many of the red pigments. So, the chlorophyll gradually disappears as the autumn sunrays weaken and the yellow that has been in the leaf all summer becomes dominant.

    It’s my understanding; these color changes take place here in the temperate zone because the sun, which supplies the power for each little factory, becomes weaker and can’t provide enough energy to keep the chlorophyll motors running. We live in a damp climate due to our humidity, where the temperatures and the heat are more consistent and constant than in other parts of the country. That’s why most leaves, or trees in general, stay green year round.

    If you count the early years my parents assisted me, I’ve been walking and running through the woods for a little over 50 years now. Some of the trees were here before me, and many will be here long after I’m laid to rest. I’m reminded of the Scripture, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to cast away” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-6).

    Our “Grand Daddy” tree will grow no more. In fact, it too, will be cast away. God has made all our trees beautiful in their autumn and winter times of loss. And may He help us to remember the promise, “That as the days of a tree, so shall the days of His people be” (Isaiah 65:22). I hope, that in our dark, cold, winter seasons of life, that are sure to befall us, we too, may abide tranquil and undaunted as we wait patiently for the springtime that will come. Whether it’s the spring season this side of heaven, or more miraculously, in God’s presence—where there will be no more death and no more darkness.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a Public Health Services Manager for the State of Florida, former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York, Florida community. His “Living With Purpose” Book series can be found and purchased on www. You can contact him by email:

Posted by on Oct 11 2020. Filed under Church News, Churches, Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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