Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoreau and Me

Gosh, it must be 30 years or more when I browsed a local book store and came upon two beautifully-bound volumes of Henry David Thoreau's Journals.  The volumes were substantial and pricey.  My budget screamed when I bought the one volume and cried when I left behind the second. 

Thoreau's heart-string connection to Nature, his intense thoughts about the natural, his wisdom about the ordinary, and his simple life at Walden, all managed to sweep me off my feet in a literary love affair.  

Thoreau's writings were responsible for my annual solo stays in our 1850s log cabin in the woods.  I'd pack minimum gear and withdraw for one week each winter to our 1850s log cabin that hubby restored for us.  His vision, his determination, hard work and endurance brought our humble log-cabin dreams to reality, and I cannot ever thank him enough.  Our log cabin in the woods was a most sacred gift hubby gave to our marriage.  

My winter week in the woods, usually between Christmas and New Years, was a communion with Nature that few have a chance to experience.  When the early evening darkness set in, I cuddled close to the light of an antique kerosene lamp and the warmth of the wood-burning stove, and my brain and blood feasted on Thoreau's every awe-inspired word.  Our cabin was my Walden, and my solo stays in the woods were among the richest times of my whole life. I hiked through the woods, and one fallen log beside the river came to be my outdoor easy chair.  It was there that I was able to rinse myself clean of stuff that bothered me.  More than anything, I would manage to put things in perspective.  Like Thoreau, I wrote in my journal.   

I genuflect before a sampling of Thoreau's writings...........

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.  It is not so bad as you are.  It looks poorest when you are richest.  The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise.  Love your life, poor as it is.  You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.  The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring.  I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.  As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!
 The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.  I am surprised, as well as delighted, when this happens, it is such a rare use he would make of me, as if he were acquainted with the tool.

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
(January 5, 1856) 
Have no mean hours, but be grateful for every hour, and accept what it brings.  The reality will make any sincere record respectable.  No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written.  Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore.  So much increase of terra firma.  This may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed.
The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls.  The worst man is as strong as the best at that game.  It does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.