nature writing_of_place

Thought for the Day

My morning email brought me this from the Blue  Mountain Center of Meditation…

January 30
And then there crept a little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves.
  – John Keats

Today I was walking with some friends in Armstrong Redwoods Park and I was astonished at those trees. The more I looked at them, the more I came to appreciate them. It was completely still, unlike our tropical forests in India, where elephants trumpet, tigers roar, and there is a constant symphony of sound.

Here everything was still, and I enjoyed the silence so much that I remembered these lines of John Keats. It is a perfect simile for the silence of the mind, when all personal conflicts are resolved, when all selfish desires come to rest. All of us are looking for this absolute peace, this inward, healing silence in the redwood forest of the mind. When we find it, we will become small forces for peace wherever we go. – Eknath Easwaran

As I read those lines it is suddenly spring 1992 and I am standing by the creek in the Muir Woods on the coast north of San Francisco. This was only my second trip to northern California and the first time I had managed to get out of the city. It was total serendipity that I ended up on that creek on that day because truthfully, I had never heard of the Muir Woods. I forget which day it was, probably a Thursday, and the park was almost completely empty when I arrived. Walking in the silence Eknath Easwaran speaks of above was such a spiritual experience that every time I’ve returned to the area I have made the pilgrimage back to the site.

Standing at the base of those ancient trees with the creek running by was mind expanding. Thinking about the years those massive towers of life had stood on that spot brought to mind the concept that they weren’t the first of their kind to stand here. When I think about my ancestry, ten generations barely gets me back to the Declaration of Independence. Ten generations of these trees would take you back thousands of years into the past. As I stood there in the shadows of those ancient beings I could fill the serenity of the years pressing down upon me. The deep earthy smell in the air, the ferns growing in the shadows, even the ancient corpses of the fallen giving back to the earth that birthed them, all of these things made me slow down and just breathe…In awe.

For some reason almost all of the places in my life that have had that effect on me have been in the presence of really big trees. From the old spreading Live Oaks of my home state to the massive Elms of Charlotte when I first laid eyes on trees that spread their shade not over a house but over a whole neighborhood. Even to the tall forests of the mountains I have come to dream about where I can stand and crane my neck for hours just looking toward the heavens where the trees brush their upreaching limbs in constant contact with the sky.

Such are the thoughts of my morning…gotta run.

Source: Thought for the Day


Sunday Photography Seminar

I drug myself out of bed early yesterday and drove into downtown Houston to the U of H Downtown for a seminar on Digital Travel Photography presented by National Geographic Traveler. It was this paragraph in the email solicitation that pulled me in:

Learn the secrets of these two top nature and travel photographers, and get lots of useful, real-world advice to help make the most of the potential of digital photography while avoiding the pitfalls and exploding the myths that surround the medium. This seminar is intended for amateur to advanced amateur photographers new to digital or considering making the switch from film to digital capture. Using a slide-show/lecture format, Ralph and Bob will help ease your transition into the digital world.

I was very happy with the presentation put on by Ralph Lee Hopkins and Bob Krist. They covered a lot of ground and answered a lot of questions and kept the interest and the pace through the full 7 hours of the seminar.

I guess time will tell if I really absorbed what they had to teach….


Hale: An undeveloped talent | – Houston Chronicle

Leon Hale has a story from his childhood that tells it like it was in rural Texas. It starts like this…

When the family gets together we sometimes retell the story of Uncle Billy Crockett’s camera and the famous pictures he took.

The story has been retold so often that Uncle Billy himself might not recognize it. But this is a harmless story that means well, and it’s part of my folks’ history.

One of his nieces gave Uncle Billy the camera for his birthday. This was back when almost all cameras were Kodaks. You didn’t hear the word camera much.

Take a few minutes and go read the rest of the story, it’s worth the time.

Source: Hale: An undeveloped talent | – Houston Chronicle