Nature Views and Viewpoints for July

dunes What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote ... It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it ... In the American Southwest, I began a lifelong love affair with a pile of rock ... God bless America. Let's save some of it.

Selections from A VOICE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, by Edward Abbey. This thin book is subtitled "Notes From a Secret Journal" and it contains a wonderful assortment of Abbey's comments, observations, and barbs about life in the U.S.

desert To see what is before us instead of what we imagine to be there means being present and alive in the here and now; a state of alertness that most of us seldom experience or can sustain for very long. And since most of the duties expected of us require single-mindedness, it is often counterproductive to be aware of the details of our surroundings. But the rewards for being able to experience this state of alertness at will are great.

Consider the difference between two walks. On the first walk your gaze is inward: You replay conversations, explain yourself yet again to a real or imagined audience, plan the rest of the day, or the week, or the next few years. When you return home, you can barely recall the route you took. On the second walk, you keep your attention on the outer terrain - a herring sky, crows tearing pieces of road-killed squirrel, a child taking a wobbly first bicycle ride, gold and black caterpillars making lace of wild rose petals, a rock garden where each rock shows its best side.

The first walk is a plate of cold leftovers; the second is a banquet table, heavy-laden with fresh, richly-prepared foods.

From the preface of FIELD OF VISION, by Lisa Knopp. This is a book of essays in which Knopp relates her experience of learning to see and experience what is around her.

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