Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nature's Din

Latourell Falls
My partner and I often visit these Falls to admire the striking basalt columns on the face of the cliff. The columns are more easily visible in the lower half of the photograph. Mom can be seen in the lower left corner. Her presence in the photograph gives an indication of the scale of the Falls.

The beauty of these Falls rests, for me, in the fact that everything about the scene is bold, striking, and vital. The cliff face itself is compelling, the lichen growing on the rock is eye catching with its dazzling color that refuses to blend in with that of the rock, and the water falls straight down into the pool, rejecting the usual tumbling and cascading course taken by most waterfalls. And, of course, the roar of the water can be heard long before the Falls reveal themselves.
Latourell Falls

The scene is intense and forceful. Nothing about it is quiet. Yet the effect it has is one of serenity and tranquility. It brings peace and inner calm. It quietens my mind and gently takes me into its embrace. The fresh smell of the wet vegetation, the mist drifting away from the falling water and resting on my face, and the crashing sound of the water -- all compel me to be fully present in the moment.

I find it endlessly fascinating that Nature's din does not overload my senses but actually focuses them. A similarly loud, man made object, no matter how beautiful, cannot do the same for me. Were I to stand in front of  a beautiful, strong and bold painting with a sound track to match, I would be impressed, provoked, unsettled, and perhaps overwhelmed. But not soothed. Not enfolded. The Falls are no painting, they're something more. They are a dynamic, alive, and ever changing entity. A painting once completed never changes although perceptions around it might change with time. The Falls, on the other hand, are constantly changing, moving and shifting. Much like us, they change their environment and are changed by it. Perhaps it's this underlying visceral affinity that transforms the boldness and the loudness of the Falls into a harmonious scene that envelopes completely without suffocating.

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