A Portrait of the Seasons

`To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven'' (Eccl. 3:1).

The Old Testament writer who penned these words had something other than foliage in mind when he wrote them, but his musings give rise to the imagery of seasonal change.

This shot of a leaf-laden pond, taken last year by staff photographer Robert Harbison, reflects nature's move from abundant to desolate - from vibrant to bleak. While primarily reflecting the colors and textures of autumn, the image also includes the starkness and renewal of the other seasons.

Green clover-like sprigs hint of the first buds of spring; winter's grayness is present in the dying leaves and in the dark shadows created by the water's depth.

For the Scriptural writer, there was a time for each activity: weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, war and peace. He attempted to make order of his world by assigning to everything a season.

So, too, is our world ordered by the seasons. But the image before us, by embracing elements in addition to those found in the fall, suggests that perhaps there is elasticity in this order: that there is more than one time for everything.

Focus is not lost in this mix; the photographer has still taken a vast random subject and given it definition, purpose. And that definition is what allows the viewer to see the familiar in new ways.

By shedding seasonal restrictions, we are free to recognize the quiet after a snowstorm in the stillness of this pond; or a vibrant July sunset in the colors of these ripe leaves; or the pandemonium caused by a spring wind in the picture's randomly strewn yellow pine needles.

``He hath made every thing beautiful in his time'' (Eccl. 3:11), concluded the Old Testament writer. As this image shows, there is room for diversity within that beauty.

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