Landscape as a Living Presence. House Made of Wind

Always the rush of wind. Even when the trees close by are stilled, I hear the wind tunneling through the woods, gathering force until the tree tops send up their green spume and the forest opens its pages like a sacred book. I learn the solidity of light, a pine with its bark stripped down shining whitely in a dark trail, and from a cluster of rocks, how weight sustains weight.

You sit across the table, your eyes on fire, your words rushing towards me. Shaken by wind we are weight against weight. But this is how we learn each other, knife against wood. The wood allowing. The knife, dazzling, impatient. We are like branches rushing into each other. This is how we learn ourselves.

The wind chants through the forest in many tongues: sirocco, bora, mistral, monsoon. The forest gathers them all in, accepting their seasons. It needs a thousand lives to learn them all. Like Father Francis, pouring over his books of the Dogan, the African myths, the ``organic ways of the Indian.'' He says, ``There isn't enough time,'' says, ``The lilacs loosening their fragrance into the wind.'' For him, the truth is always first, as he carves out his journey, plunging deep into the forest, far from the tables of the powerful.

The wind says the forest is everchanging and the poet, at the end of a long life, writes, ``The wonder has never ceased.''

Paula Chandoha, a photographer-artist in Cambridge, Mass., often chooses landscapes of enormous sweep and magnitude as subjects for her camera. She has traveled widely, photographing in Kenya, Tanzania, Portugal, Canada, and the American West.

The photographs are from Chandoha's exhibit series, ``Islands and Prairies,'' shown recently at Habitat Institute for the Environment, in Belmont, Mass. The photographer and poet are currently collaborating on a book.

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