Orixá Iroko  My interest in sacred trees has developed out of a desire to explore the cultures and traditions of people who still live with, and relate to, nature in a spiritual way. This tree, the gameleira, is sacred to the Candomblé tradition, a prominent religion in northeastern Brazil. I had not been in Brazil long when an invitation came to attend a ceremony for the orixá Iroko which manifests through the gameleira tree. It was to be held at a terreiro, a house of Candomblé, on the outskirts of the city of Salvador. That evening I stepped onto the leaf-strewn floor of the terreiro and watched a Candomblé ceremony unfold. As the participants and attendees filtered into the room, this unfamiliar place filled with an air of warmth and kindness. When the rhythm of the drums picked up and the ceremony began, I understood immediately that even if what I witnessed that night passed outside the realm of my usual reality, the experience would be a positive one.

Urban Lines  Home for me is Brooklyn, New York, at the terminus of a once busy industrial waterway known as the Gowanus Canal. I have lived on the canal for eight years in a drafty loft that is chilly in the winter, stifling in the summer and leaky when it rains. As I cross over the canal today, I am no longer cautioned by flashing lights or forestalled by dropping gates. The bridge deck no longer cantilevers up and gapes open as the oil barge clears beneath. The large, brown and black dog guarding the depot is gone. Grass and weeds have grown taller along the walls of the canal, around the edges of old warehouses and up through the cracks in the sidewalks as the last vestige of industrial commerce has slowed to a halt. Over the years, as the cement crumbled and the asphalt cracked, nature has reclaimed space to sprawl and spread its unkempt way around the neighborhood. In the decay of this old industry-based neighborhood green things still exist with an unruliness that reflects nature along more urban lines.

Travels in Geology  Area Natural Protegida Parque Provincial Copahue/Caviahue is a 69,930 acre park in the province of Nequén high in the Andes Mountains, set aside in 1962 as a biological reserve predominately to protect the majestic South American conifer (Araucaria araucana) the park sits in a massive caldera that collapsed some 2 million years ago. As an act of pure contemplation you might want to hike out to the tip of the peninsula formed by the two lobes of Lake Caviahue to take in the 360° view of the weathered maroon mountains that encircle the valley. Fathoming this circumference, sketching in the height to which these walls once rose and slowly coming to terms with the scale of the volcanics that created this high mountain valley is a good place to start when exploring this place. In fact, it is this coming to terms with the reality of what you see here that makes this park such an exceptional and enigmatic place.

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