A friend sent a photograph of the Virginia woods a couple of weeks ago. Dark tree trunks dominate the foreground with dramatic verticals. A center of light, clear, open space, like looking into stained glass, shows the richly cultivated landscape. It reminded me of my September trip to rural central Virginia, where my family gathered to bury my oldest brother. When I think about my loss, I am comforted by knowing that he was laid to rest in his favorite land.
I take landscape photos when I am on the road, and I wonder about my connection to the land of the west. Landscape is such a powerful bond for me. Northern California holds a place in my internal landscape, as I lived there for a decade or so. A rugged coastline, with expansive views of rocks and water, or a stunning view of coastal mountains, has always been a source of strength for me.
Last week I traveled to Taos, New Mexico. From the interstate highway, there were constant views, and at times it seemed like one could see for a hundred miles. I traveled through some storms, and across sheets of ice. One evening’s storm left new snow, and I walked right through it. In the morning I took this photo of the Taos mountains, as I walked to my friend’s house. Later I came across a quote from Dharma Bums, by Jack Keroac:
“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream…”