in search of the Welsh sublime

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When I captured the first photo above – the dramatic view of distant Castell Dinas Bran radiant in the sunlight and mist – I felt as though I’d stepped into a painting by Thomas Cole, one of my favorite artists associated with the Hudson River School. (The thematic similarity of castle ruins immediately made me think of The Present, a painting I used to teach with almost daily in my previous job, but it could really be any glorious Cole landscape!)

I expected a grey, wintry Wales awaited me during my trip in January, so the verdant pastures and generally vernal signs of life took me by surprise. If only the bleak New England beginning-of-the-year could take some tips from Great Britain!

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the grand canyon of the pacific

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Sometimes when I wake up in my little town on the Mainland and see the temperature hovering around balmy negative fifteen degrees Fahrenheit, I remember the island where I was born and how my foolish childhood self used to gaze admiringly up at the slopes of Mauna Kea and dream of one day living in a place where it snowed.

As the East Coast becomes increasingly miserable this January, I thought it an apt time to share some memories from the little detour to Kaua’i that my family enjoyed when I visited home this summer, including a visit to what I might humbly suggest is among the most phenomenal natural wonders the world has to offer.

Waimea Canyon State Park, often hailed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” can hardly be captured in photographs, but I hope these fleeting impressions give you a slight sense of these Pacific mountains’ majesty!

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Pathless Woods

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Hello from England, my friends! I’m writing this post as one still jet-lagged and bewildered (even after eleven hours of sleep!), but couldn’t wait to show a few photos of my first day of adventures here.

You wouldn’t think that tropical Hawai’i and the British Isles have too much in common–and yet there were moments during this first forest expedition when I recognized similar plants and natural features like old friends. Ferns and gorse and unexpected showers: sounds just like Volcano to me!

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Stories in Stone: Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs Trail

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Lost in the middle of the Volcano rainforest as a child, I often forgot how close I was to the sea: it’s hard to believe you live on a small dot of land in the great Pacific when all you can see are trees without end. 

That’s why one of my favorite little day adventures in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is the Pu’u Loa hike on the Chain of Craters Road, down in that dark desert overlooking the waves. As soon as you break through the thicket of trees that surrounds Volcano like a fortress, the sea re-appears–it was never really gone, only slightly hidden.

That’s not even including the amazing piece of cultural history carved into the stones once you’ve hiked your way across the desert, though. There’s also that.

In Wednesday’s post, I showed off a few stamp designs styled after Hawaiian petroglyphs–and I’m very excited to show you the real thing now!

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Deep into the Mountain Sound (Mt. Greylock, the Berkshires, MA)

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When you grow up living four thousand feet above sea level, it takes a lot of elevation to impress you. Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, falls in just below Volcano’s elevation at 3491 feet–and though the altitude was about normal for me, the views themselves were enough to take my breath away. Autumn is settling into the Berkshires a little more quickly than it is down here, which made last weekend’s crisp Sunday afternoon the perfect time for a mountain jaunt.

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Western MA Wanderings | The Emily Dickinson Trail

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Perhaps one of my favorite things about Hampshire County is the great literary history you can find throughout the area: and the Amherst Literary Trails, which stretch from Sunderland to South Hadley, make it easy for writerly types to escape into nature for some inspiration. Though my adventures at Wentworth Farm and other conservation areas nearby sometimes intersected with the Robert Frost Trail, yesterday I set off on a new journey that took me on a path named after one of my other American poetry idols… Continue reading