Take Me There! Our Picturesque World

For all the ecological damage humans have inflicted on land and sea, the Earth is still a beautiful place, astonishing in its colors, shapes and beauty as though all that was made was made for us. As the beloved poet, Mary Oliver wrote in one of her poems:

I am thinking:
maybe just looking and listening
is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem.

~ Mary Oliver, ‘From the Book of Time’

Below are some images to remind us what a “real poem” the world is, and a ravishing one at that!

Winter sunrise on Holy Island, Northumberland, England, with two upturned herring boats and Lindisfarne castle in the distance catching the first rays of the sun amid heavy rain clouds.
Winskill Stone Nature Reserve, an unspoilt landscape with hawthorn trees and natural limestone in the uplands of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, seen here against the stunning dusk sky.
“The hills are alive with the sound of music!”, Newland Valley in autumn, Lake District National Park, UK.
Quiraing, Trotternish ridge, Isle of Skye, Scotland. Quiraing in the northeast of Skye is defined by dramatic cliffs, sweeping hillsides and awesome pinnacles formed from colossal landslides during the last ice age. On a clear day, the summit opens up panoramic views of the Skye bay and the northern islands.
Mount Errigal, County Donegal, Ireland. The tallest of County Donegal’s peaks, Errigal is one of the “Seven Sisters”, known locally as the Derryveagh Mountains. Its distinctive coloration is due to quartzite, a metamorphic rock formed from sandstone.
The foreboding dark cliffs of County Wicklow, Ireland. Taking advantage of the natural strong position on a high promontory, the Black Castle at Wicklow seen in the distance was built in the 1100s to protect the nearby coast from invasion.
The charismatic Faroe Islands are a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres (200 miles) north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The terrain here is rugged and the climate is subpolar – windy, wet, cloudy and cool throughout the year. The island’s northerly location also results in perpetual civil twilight during summer nights and very short winter days.
A picture of serenity. The rustic Crawley Edge boatshed, Perth, Australia.
The remote and isolated Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, northeast of Russia.
A spectacular display of the Northern Lights seen in Iceland, framed on earth by dark rocks and an elegant waterfall .
A gull flies over Jökulsárlón, a glacier lake lagoon in south Iceland that is filled with the meltwater from an outlet glacier. The lagoon is also filled with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
The stunning Grand Canyon in Arizona, taken at sunset from the southern rim with a monsoon in the distance.
One of the many amazing slot canyons in Arizona. These are caused by wind, rain, and mostly floods. The stunning colors are due to the oxidation of iron-rich sandstone.
A stunning night at Monument Rocks, a series of large chalk formations in Cove County, Kansas, US.
A sublime Wyoming evening looking like a Monet haystack painting.
Thunder Mountain”, Sierra Nevada, California. Thunderstorms build up frequently in the Sierra Nevada of California framed by two peaks which are near 3,000m high. The trepidation of thunder and lightning is balanced by the raw beauty of a looming storm passing by the eastern Sirera in this picture taken in 2014.
Aerial view of flamingoes at Lake Bogoria, Kenya, Africa. The lake hosts over a million flamingos each year at the peak of their migration here. The gathering of these beautiful birds at the lake create a surreal scene viewed from the air as captured in this photo and the following video.
A lone ostrich is the only sign of life on the dunes of the Namib-Nakluf National Park in Namibia.
Mount Longonot, Kenya. Rising from the floor of the Great Rift Valley like a monolith is the extinct volcano of Mount Longonot. A unique feature here is the thick forest that lies within the crater of the mountain. The crater rim also provides great scenic views across the beautiful Rift Valley all the way to Lake Naivasha. The area teems with wildlife such as buffaloes, gazelles, zebras, lions and leopards.
Flaming Mountains, Xinjiang Province, Western China. The aptly named Flaming Mountains are a 100 km long range of low red sandstone hills sited in the Turpan Depression and on the northern rim of vast Taklamakan Desert. Temperatures in these places often top out above 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius), making the area around the Flaming Mountains one of the hottest places on Earth as well. The irony is that just north of the Flaming Mountains are the perpetually snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan or Heavenly Mountains; snowmelt from these lofty peaks is the source of essential fresh water to the area.
Rainbow mountains, Hexi Corridor, China. West of the Huang He (Yellow River) is a long corridor passage that connects China and Central Asia. This is the Hexi Corridor, a renowned section of the northern Silk Road that traverses through the Gobi desert. At the center of the corridor is the city of Zhangye where Marco Polo spent a year, according to his Travels. This is also an area of surreal beauty due to the striated rock formation that give the mountain range rainbow-like colors.
28 Wudangshan, Hubei, China. What looks like a monk practising taichi at this famed Taoist mountain monastery is actually something more mundane: the monk is just taking a selfie! Nevertheless, Wudangshan is indeed famous as a centre for learning taichi, playing host to more than 30,000 taichi enthusiasts each year.
Ruoergai Prairie, China. With many small blue lakes scattering in green grassland with high and wide visibility, the Ruoergai Prairie, also known as Zoige Grassland in the northwest of Sichuan Province glistens like a brilliant emerald and is one considered as one of the most beautiful wetlands in China.
The summit of a mountain in Japan peaks through the clouds and is framed by a stream in valley “where the gods descend” which is what Kamokochi was known originally. This remote mountainous highland valley in the western region of Nagano Prefecture has been preserved in its natural state within the Chūbu-Sangaku National Park.
Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery sits atop the hill of Namo Buddha in Nepal, shrouded in the mystery of clouds.
Two Tibetan monks in front of the Langtang Himalayan range, 51 km north of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. All the mountains in this range are well over 6,000m high. The region is also renowned for hosting the Langtang national park which eventually constitutes the border with the Tibet autonomous region of China.
Dwarfed by the towering Lekh Dharma mountain in Humla, Northwest Nepal, children dance in the rising mist before gathering potatoes in the autumn.
Humla is forgotten by all but those who live there. Nestled between the sweltering Indian subcontinent in the south and the frozen plains of Tibet in the north, it lies hidden in the far northwest corner of Nepal, thus giving its nickname, “The Hidden Himalaya”.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
over and over
announcing your place

in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”

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