Archive for nature – Page 2

Images begat Text begat Images

I’m home from vacation full of more image poems (my whole trip was a juicy photographic orgy, if the truth be known) and in catching up with my reading today I was excited to read a post by Barbara Ganley talking about the inter-play between her blogging and her photography… how one will spring naturally from the other, and how the two enrich each other and together create something new.

So here are my two image poems, my "something new" flowing from holiday reveries – immersed in the beauty of nature with my Canon 40D eyes on…

Held within the stone, radiating light & absorbing heat … flesh against flesh, carved in situ, like a Michelangelo.

A merman emerging, dreaming this moment into being.


Totally absorbed in the sparkling element … through this baptism flesh leaves its solid form and enters the life of the spirit – just for that one perfect moment – awash between spheres and blessed by leaves – he floats in the liquid now.

Communal Dreams

Still traveling, right now I’m in Red Feather Lakes in Colorado at the Shambhala Mountain Center for a fascinating conference called Story Field (more on this in a later post).

Just last week I was doing a Zhikr training put on by Arica Institute at Esalen in Big Sur, California.

Beyond the events themselves I’ve been thinking a lot about the environments in which I’ve experienced them, which despite some clear differences are very similar. Both are set in amazing natural landscapes, both are intentional communities and both collective businesses grounded in the spiritual realm.

I’m taken back to my years living the communal ‘back to the land’ dream in rural NE Vermont in the early 70s and the subsequent urban communal years through the 80s in Boston and San Diego. I haven’t forgotten the unique hell-realms of communal living, but I must admit the simple life in nature, immersed in right livelihood and intimate relationships with others also has its attractions.

Sculpture in the vegetable garden at Esalen

The path up to the Shinto Shrine above the Great Stupa at Shambhala

Big Sky Mystery

We drove through some amazing scenery on this road trip. Crossing the Sierras and ending up in the Tetons, we experienced the terrain of the American West as one long unfurling roll of mountains, rivers, tall pines and high desert scrub.

Besides the magical Tetons, one of the most striking features of this landscape was the sky, the huge expanse of blue and clouds surrounding us all day every day. With very little light competition, the stars were so clear out there – the Milky Way a swath of cloudy light strewn across the sky – one evening my pest son and I lay out on our backs on blankets in the soft grass for hours, watching the light show.


What magic, what mystery.


We explored Yellowstone a bit on our way back, and as we drove through the park I couldn’t help imagine what it would have been like to be a native American traveling through that land looking for food and shelter, seeing ponds boil and geysers spouting and thick strange-smelling curls of steam coming out of holes in the ground; to live in a world peopled with the mythic creatures wandering in the woods- bison and bear and moose along with graceful elk, pronghorn antelopes and bighorn sheep.


Over 75% of the park had been devastated by the fires of 1988, and much of the forest we went through looked like charred toothpicks rising out of the thick undergrowth of baby pines.

Between the fire-scarred land and the water poisoned with heat and sulfur, I didn’t find it to be a cozy place exactly. Awesome rather than welcoming, it was ‘sublime’ in the Edmund Burkean sense: beauty with a molten roaring core. And yet it was very, very beautiful, and I spent each day in a kind of alert rapture, wondering what I would see next.

Ever since she was tiny …

Communing with the big trees in Muir Woods this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice this little girl.


She was in a stroller being rolled along the path by her mother and suddenly she began to kick up a fuss. Crying inconsolably, she was urgently gesturing backwards, pointing to a spot in the creek that lie just on the other side of the railing. Her mother seemed to understand, stopped and backed up.

Immediately the child quit crying, staring mesmerized at a little water eddy in the fast-running brook that followed the path, reaching out her hand as if to touch it. She sat motionless for several minutes, looking intently at the scene in front of her.


When she was satiated and they continued walking I went up to her mother to ask if she often had that kind of a reaction. Her mother said yes, she did, absolutely. Ever since she was tiny she was crazy about being in nature. I asked if I could photograph her, and her mother agreed. Her name was Caitlin, I learned; “Her father is Irish”.

As they disappeared away down the path beyond me, I could see at least one reason Caitlin loved nature. Her mother and grandfather were talking softly to her and each other about what they were seeing and experiencing; thumping the expanse of huge stumps so she could hear the sound of the wood, bending down to pick up leaves for her to touch and taste and see. One could almost see the "Love of Life & Nature" transmission pass between them.