Sunday, August 31, 2014


In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.


Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth
find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

Rachel Carlson

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.  It expands
through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.

Aldo Leopold

I think one of the most exciting things is this feeling of mystery,
feeling of awe, the feeling of looking at a little live thing and being amazed by it
 and how it has emerged through these hundreds of years of evolution and there it is perfect and why.

Jane Goodall

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man
if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature
and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

E.B. White

Our task must be to free ourselves . . .
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace
all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.


not in another place, but this place . . .
not for another hour, but this hour.

Walt Whitman

The poetry of the earth is never dead.


Saturday, August 16, 2014


For many years, I have been inspired by the life and writings of the late William Sloane Coffin, who was a minister, a civil rights and peace activist, a prolific writer, and an unapologetic liberal.  In reading one of his books — specifically, The Heart is a Little to the Left: Essays on Public Morality — I've come across a poem by Czeslaw Milosz which offers me both solace and hope as I attempt each day to process the onslaught of news about the wars and economic injustices that seem to be tearing the world apart.  Perhaps this poem will speak to others as well.  If we can continue to be dazzled by wonder, and "recall only wonder," it may be that we will have the collective energy and perspective to pull the world back from the precipice of self-destruction.

          Pure beauty, benediction: you are all I gathered
          From a life that was bitter and confused, 
          In which I learned about evil, my own and not my own.
          Wonder kept dazzling me, and I recall only wonder,
          The risings of the sun in boundless foliage,
          Flowers opening after the night, universe of grasses,
          A blue outline of the mountains and a shout of hosanna.
          How many times I thought: is this the truth of the Earth?
          How can laments and curses be turned into hymns?
          Why do I pretend to know so much?
          But the lips praised on their own, the feet on their own were
          The heart was beating strongly, and the tongue proclaimed

From Czeslaw Milosz, "A Mirrored Gallery," The Collected Poems: 1931-1987, trans. Renata Gorczymski (Ecco Press, 1988).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Female)

I'm rather shocked to see that my last posting on this blog was May 26th, almost three months ago.  My absence during this period was not planned.  I've simply been spending almost every summer hour in the great outdoors, far away from my digital devices.  There is one exception, however.  I have taken my camera with me every day, whether out for long walks or exploratory drives through the countryside. For whatever reason, my orientation this summer has been more visual than verbal, and the natural world has drawn me deeper and deeper into both its beauty and its mysteries.

That said, I will simply let some of my summer photographs speak to where I've been and what I've been doing for the past few months.  

Silhouette of Blue Dasher Dragonfly
Fixated on Distant Light

Spicebush Swallowtail
on Lantana Bush

Barred Owl, Heard Nightly 
and Finally Sighted in my Front Yard

Lily Pads After Rain in a Pond
at Bellingrath Gardens, Near Mobile, Alabama

Other Lily Pads in Same Pond,
Tweaked to Portray My Sense of How
Van Gogh Might Have Painted the Scene

Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Female)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Wary Male Cardinal

From the Lily Pond at Bellingrath Gardens

Spicebush Swallowtail

Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Female)

It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest.  It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.

David Attenborough