In some of his early work, the photographer Robert Adams formed images of the Great Plains near Denver—vast, empty appearing surfaces of plain stretching out as far as the eye can see. They are to my eye puzzles—why focus on attention on such apparent emptiness? But when I am at my daughter's in Missouri, I am struck by the flatness, the ever onward stretching out of the farmland, again as far as the eye can see, and I begin to understand better what Adams was showing us. Trees, in their wintery naked forms, stand out in the middle of the flatness, sometimes solitary, sometimes in a row, emphasizing to the eye that stretching out of the flat surface. It encourages and supports a meditative stance—paying attention. Old houses, falling barns, tilled fields all begin to reveal themselves just as they are, in their suchness.
Belden Lane, backpacking in southern Missouri, wrote: "The world is full of natural wonders that we notice only when we take time to attend to details. We marvel at how mockingbirds delight in hopping and wing-flashing on the top of a dead tree, how the leaves of an aspen tee flutter in the least bit of wind, how the cracks in the bark of a ponderosa pines smell of butterscotch pudding, how flying hawks use their shadow in hunting mice (the fear of their passing sillhouette causes the rodents to run in panic). The world on the edge of our awareness wants to fill us with amazement."
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