There are, perhaps, few spots that can compare, in sheer beauty, with Paradise Valley in Mount Rainier National Park. Cradled in the lap of "The Mountain That Was God", and guarded by the sentinel peaks of the rugged Tatoosh Range, it presents its most colorful aspects in the spring with the reds, whites and blues of the flowers-and in the early autumn with reds, browns and yellows of a thousand hues.
From early spring, when the avalanche and glacier lillies thrust their shining heads above the thinning blanket of snow, until the first visit of snow in the fall, I watched with fascinated interest the artistry of Nature in Her masterful use of the color brush. I was also moved to compare the cycle of vegetative coloring with that of human life.
First, the spring, bringing the first tender buds and growth of leaf and stem, which I would liken to the tender years of childhood and adolescence, with their eagerness for life and their exuberance in the living of it.
Then-the period of flowering-which is the time of mating in the kingdom of the plant. The red of the Indian Paint Brush; the white of the Mountain Heliotrope-or Valerian-and the blue of the Lupine, blanketing Paradise Valley in a manner breath-taking in its loveliness; its beauty being enhanced by groups of evergreens scattered here and there which provide a somber background by way of contrast. A vagrant breeze brings the delightful scent of Valerian-and the esthetic cup of delight is filled to overflowing. Is not this season a beautiful parallel to the time of flowering in the kingdom of man? It needs no poet or dreamer to see in the blue of the Lupine the vigorous robustness of youth just arriving at adult man hood, clear-eyed and unafraid. In the white, sweet-scented Valerian I see lovely young womanhood, poised, eager for the day when she shall step across the threshhold of Life, radiating an aura of sweetness and joy to the loving ones about her. And the red of the Paint Brush? Let it be a symbol of Red Courage-of a Lindberg flaming across the trackless wastes of an Atlantic-the heritage of pioneer ancestors blossoming forth.
Summer. The season of steady, quiet growth and accomplishment-unspectacular, but fruitful, alike in the plant and human world. The plant, pushing its roots farther afield-like man, who is forever developing, growing, seeking new worlds to master. The period of setting and maturing the seed which is to perpetuate the species.
Comes the Autumn, with its harvest and its frosts. The latter coloring the foliage with a wealth and harmony of hues that would make a Titian seem the veriest dauber. The work of plant and man is done. Their fruitful accomplishment is visible to appreciative eyes. Standing at the exit from the stage of life, their roles are played to the end. The coloring they display to the world is the sum of their experience and their reaction to the life they have lived. The warmth and brilliance of the foliage is like the sympathy, understanding and personality of mankind in it's autumn years. The frosts of approaching winter have touched them, only to enchance their mellowness and emphasize their harmony with surrounding life. Serenely they look to the future existence, with it's promise of a newer, glorious life.
One could dwell on the darker side of the picture. Could tell of the careless feet that crush the young plant; of the tragedies and untimely ends of innocent children; of the budding flowers whose loveliness is ruthlessly plucked from the parent plant; of the vital young men and women swept from the threshold of Life by the thoughtless selfishness of the motorist; of drought and destitution; of floods and famines; of forest fires and insanity; savage wars -- except that such things make us appreciate the loveliness that can be found.
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