Sometimes the land turns into words; sometimes into proverbs.

As we hiked, what we saw—pines and oaks, grasses and lilies, coyotes and golden trout, root fungus and moss and the grace of deer—was just the beginning of what was before us. It was, and is, to the reality of the Sierra what the skin of a peach is to a peach; what the flashing of light on the surface of a river is to the whole surging river; what the first paragraphs of a beautiful book are to the finished and intricate story within.

This is true for everyone, wherever we are: what we see is the preface to what we can see. Beyond that preface, with work and love, is what we can come to understand.

If we can understand, then we can live.

In the Sierra, we understood that we might, after all, belong here with tree and rock and time and light. We might, for a brief spell of years, have the luck to find a home here by following the beauty that beckons us. We are spellbound here.

Steven Nightingale, in Richard J. Nevle and Steven Nightingale, The Paradise Notebooks: 90 Miles across the Sierra Nevada