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The Hush of Trees

`AND here were forests ancient as the hills/ Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.''

Samuel Taylor Coleridge may not have had his native England in mind when he wrote these lines in ``Kubla Khan.'' But surely the haunting green and mystic woods of that verdant land must have been near to thought.

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Not long ago Monitor photographer Neal J. Menschel was heading out of London on assignment to photograph Stonehenge, that ancient puzzle in stone. On a lark, he headed off down an unpaved road. In the late afternoon, somewhere near Salisbury, he encountered this

arboreal scene.

It would be hard not to be drawn into the stunning photograph he made. But, as I admired it just a bit more, I found my impressions began to change. New thoughts budded one after another.

At first, unease. Where are the people? The wildlife? Where's the road? My points of reference? The way in and out? Where is man here? Just where am I?

Then thought relaxes. I begin to hear the trees as they rustle in the breeze. The smells are subtle and full of wet life. The play of light and wind forms changing patterns.

The first overwhelming visual impression - green upon green upon green - slowly yields. A stratum of imperial purple covers the forest floor. The sun's peachy paint coats leaves and tree trunks. Smooth columns, mossy gray, shoot upward. Sunlight turns patches goldenrod yellow.

A sense of time intrudes. Will someone or something come along to disturb the peace of this cathedral in the woods?

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I quickly usher that thought out. It's enough to feel the perfection of now.

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