The Nature Conservancy sponsored a nature photography contest last year, and the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are lovely. Spend some time marvelling at these snapshots of God’s work.
My favorite picture was the contest’s first runner up—Patrick Smith’s shot of Mirror Lake in Yosemite. It is stunning.
One of Ohio’s great places made it on the list, too, with Valerie Crist’s photograph of Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills.
Let us consider Ben Johnson’s congratulatory words to Robert Wroth on the benefits of living in the countryside (from “The Forest”).
But canst at home, in thy securer rest,
Live, with unbought provision blest ;
Free from proud porches, or their gilded roofs,
‘Mongst lowing herds, and solid hoofs :
Along the curled woods, and painted meads,
Through which a serpent river leads
To some cool courteous shade, which he calls his,
And makes sleep softer than it is.
Or if thou list the night in watch to break,
A-bed canst hear the loud stag speak,
In spring, oft roused for thy master’s sport,
Who for it makes thy house his court ;
Or with thy friends, the heart of all the year
Divid’st, upon the lesser deer :
In Autumn, at the partridge mak’st a flight,
And giv’st thy gladder guests the sight ;
And in the winter, hunt’st the flying hare,
More for thy exercise, than fare ;
While all that follow, their glad ears apply
To the full greatness of the cry :
Or hawking at the river, or the bush,
Or shooting at the greedy thrush,
Thou dost with some delight the day out-wear,
Although the coldest of the year !
The whilst the several seasons thou hast seen
Of flowery fields, of cop’ces green,
The mowed meadows, with the fleeced sheep,
And feasts, that either shearers keep ;
The ripened ears, yet humble in their height,
And furrows laden with their weight ;
The apple-harvest, that doth longer last ;
The hogs return’d home fat from mast ;
The trees cut out in log, and those boughs made
A fire now, that lent a shade !
Thus Pan and Sylvan having had their rites,
Comus puts in for new delights ;
And fills thy open hall with mirth and cheer,
As if in Saturn’s reign it were ;
Apollo’s harp, and Hermes’ lyre resound,
Nor are the Muses strangers found.
We celebrate poets because they give voice to the words that our souls wish to express when we encounter our beautiful world.