John Daido Loori is the spiritual leader and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York, and founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen. In this beautiful paperback, he combines his exquisite photographs of nature with a mix of essays and brief poems to teach the essentials of a contemplative view of the environment.

For 20 years Loori has lived amidst the Catskill Mountains, streams, and wetlands appreciating the wonders of the plants, flowers, trees, and creatures who live there. In the center of the wetlands is Long Pond, almost a half-mile long and 200 feet wide, and 12 feet deep. The author offers these photographs, essays, and poems as a tribute to "the sheer and free wildness of things as they are." Here are a few of the poems:

• Hidden in the forest.
Singing the song
only a mountain stream can sing.

• Swamp grasses
greet me in dawn's first light —
an aura of angels.

• Unstoppable!
Time makes no sense
to the meandering stream.

• Rock and water
practicing together.

• A single splash
of morning light
illuminates the entire forest.

• Clustered to keep warm —
in morning's cool shadows.

These vivid and sensuous poems accompany photographs organized in sections on River Valley, Rocks, and Blue Mountain. Loori refreshes our spirit as he brings us into close encounters with the extraordinary ordinariness of the natural world. He makes our hearts sing in the presence of the wild. He opens our senses to a fresh immersion with trees, animals, rocks, plants, and water.