My wife, Becky and I flew to Boston where we rented a Cruise America motorhome to ramble around New England. Our RV is a 27-foot rolling condo equipped with a kitchen, central heat, a bathroom and what I call a “queen bed,” more for the woman who sleeps with me than the size of the bed.

The upside of renting a motorhome is that we avoid the “sanitary facilities,” as the state of Massachusetts so gingerly describes their roadside restrooms. At less than 10 miles-per-gallon, the downside is the gas pump; or more aptly named, “the gasp pump.”

My idea for this vacation is that sometimes the best things can be found without looking and sometimes the best way to get somewhere is to go nowhere.

So the goal of our trip is, well, nothing actually – no goals, targets or objectives. None that is, unless you count watching the leaves fall, finding the best clam chowder, sleeping late or climbing the highest river rock.

But, my schoolteacher wife, ever ready with a lesson plan, set our GPS to take us somewhere between the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont. It is here on these roads, beneath blue skies streaked with wispy puffs of white, we join the throngs of leaf peeping, bus creeping, open-“Jeep-ing” crowds of aging yuppies.

Soon, it’s evident that Becky has a good plan. Through our large RV windows I see a choir of treetops peeking out like shy boys wearing multicolored ball caps. If God ever intended us to have a celestial preview, it is here in these mountains.

We stop at several vistas to walk the banks of the Saco River that flows from the mountains like God’s drinking fountain. The river is formidable and, as it curls its way through the granite, it presents the same question the wind posed to the sun in Aesop’s fable. Who is the most powerful?

Do the rocks command the most clout as they root their claws deep into the ground and stretch out on jagged cliffs? Or will the river claim the throne of power as it so patiently dissolves these pillars and carries their remains to the valley below. The debate remains ongoing as we return to our RV.

A few days later, we walk the meandering trails of a Massachusetts wildlife preserve in the shadows of swaying Aspen and Birch. Their leaves flutter past us like butterflies, spinning in the wind as whirling dervishes until they find their place on God’s canvas.

At the end of the day, I ponder the tremendous irony that this beauty can only occur through the surrender of life. Leaves surrender their lives as they migrate to the ground where they sow new life in the dirt that first spawned them, resurrecting a beauty that the artist longs to replicate and the columnist finds impossible to describe.

All of this leaves me speechless, except maybe to paraphrase the World War One poet, Joyce Kilmer. Newspaper columns “…are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of No Small Miracles. He also serves as an Air National Guard chaplain and is board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. You can call him at (321) 549-2500, Email him at [email protected], visit his website at or write him at P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759.