Sometimes in the summer evenings they walked up the hill to watch the afterglow clinging to the tops of the western mountains and to feel the breeze drawn into the valley by the rising day-heated air. Usually they stood silently for a while and breathed in peacefulness. Since both were shy they never talked about themselves. Neither knew about the other at all.
Over the years, one comes to measure a place, too, not just for the beauty it may give, the balminess of its breezes, the insouciance and relaxation it encourages, the sublime pleasures it offers, but for what it teaches. The way in which it alters our perception of the human. It is not so much that you want to return to indifferent or difficult places, but that you want to not forget.
As Elizabeth Blackmar and Ray Rosenzweig wrote in their magisterial history of [Central Park in NYC]: 'The issue of demoncratic access to the park has also been raised by the increasing number of homeless New Yorkers. Poor people--from the 'squatters' of the 1850s to the 'tramps' of the 1870s and 1890s to the Hooverville residents of the 1930s--have always turned to the park land for shelter...The growing visibility of homeless people in Central Park osed in the starkest terms the contradiction between Americans' commitment to democratic space and their acquiescence in vast disparities of wealth and power.
Feminism has both undone the hierarchy in which the elements aligned with the masculine were given greater value than those of the feminine and undermined the metaphors that aligned these broad aspects of experience with gender. So, there goes women and nature. What does it leave us with? One thing is a political mandate to decentralize privilege and power and equalize access, and that can be a literal spatial goal too, the goal of our designed landscapes and even the managed ones -- the national parks, forests, refuges, recreation areas, and so on.
I grew up with landscape as a recourse, with the possibility of exiting the horizontal realm of social relations for a vertical alignment with earth and sky, matter and spirit. Vast open spaces speak best to this craving, the spaces I myself first found in the desert and then in the western grasslands.
This whole effort to rebuild and stabilize a countryside is not without its disappointments and mistakes... What matter though these temporary growing pains when one can cast his eye upon the hills and see hard-boiled farmers who have spent their lives destroying land now carrying water by hand to their new plantations
The secret of seeing is, then the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. I return from one walk knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms. I return form the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name. Litanies hum in my ears; my tongue flaps in my mouth. Ailinon, alleluia!