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"For [Frederick Law] Olmsted, the preservation of scenery is justified precisely because it provides a stimulus to engage the contemplative faculty. 'In the interest which natural scenery inspires ... the attention is aroused and the mind occupied without purpose, without a continuation of the common process of relating the present action, thought or perception to some future end. There is little else that has this quality so purely."
From Joseph Sax, in MOUNTAINS WITHOUT HANDRAILS: Reflections on the National Parks

The Pulpit
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Since my trip last fall to Zion National Park , where all these photos were taken, this month's photos are all about falling (or more accurately, fallen) leaves. This stream of leaves was nestled in the crook of a rock, forming a nearly-perfect S-shaped swirl - though I will confess to removing one solitary leaf that was on the rock face away from the swirl. It was a rather gray, overcast day which is reflected in the color tones here.

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On the same walk through the same part of the park where the first photo was taken, this scene presented itself - the dead leaves gathered on one side of a little rain-filled pool formed by a depression in a rock, conveniently bunched up to leave room for the reflection of a pine tree in the background. I missed it entirely when we were walking into the area, but on the way back the scene jumped out at me. That's the true serendipity of landscape photography.

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Speaking of serendipity: here's a scene that also presented itself and I was fortunate enough to see it and to be there at the right time of day to catch the backlighting from an early-afternoon sun. And, yes, that leaf was there on the rock just as you see it - with those rich orange and red tones and the little spot of green remaining with the veins of the leaf showing through. I am amazed at the visual variety and complexity in this one little leaf.

If you are interested in excellent landscape photography, take a look at NATURE'S AMERICA which captures images from around the US, or PLATEAU LIGHT which contains images from the Arizona-Utah redrock canyon country, or ARIZONA: THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL. All are reasonably priced for photography books of this type, and you'll find them endlessly enjoyable.

Also, there are many resources on the Web concerning various aspects of landscape and environmental issues, and more. Among the more interesting ones I can suggest are the Bureau of Land Management's Visual Resource Management program, the National Park Service, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

If You'd Like To Explore Some More...

There are several nature writers whose work I really enjoy reading, including Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez, Joseph Wood Krutch, and Henry David Thoreau and Everett Ruess. To see a list of their writings, please visit the Natural Escape Writer's page, and spend some time browsing through the titles.
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