Love Letter to Walden Pond

Just before noon today, I arrived at my daughter’s soccer camp a few minutes early and picked up Walden where I had left off, at “The Ponds” chapter.  As it was the last day of camp, the session went late, and I sat on the grass, watching the kids circled on the grass around their coach, saying something I could not hear at all, only the laughter in their voices.  From where I sat, I saw the mound of Buffalo Mountain, a dark blue against the lighter hue of a cloudless sky.  This summer’s been a stellar one for butterflies, and even in this chiefly grassy stretch they were busy, the honey bees working, too, on the clover.

Thinking over these pages, I realized this chapter is a lyrical love letter to Walden Pond, an homage to her loveliness, this common pond, the miraculous universe reflected in this patch of water.

Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes of the color of both. Viewed from a hilltop it reflects the color of the sky; but near at hand it is of a yellowish tint next the shore where you can see the sand, then a light green, which gradually deepens to a uniform dark green in the body of the pond. In some lights, viewed even from a hilltop, it is of a vivid green next the shore. Some have referred this to the reflection of the verdure; but it is equally green there against the railroad sandbank, and in the spring, before the leaves are expanded, and it may be simply the result of the prevailing blue mixed with the yellow of the sand. Such is the color of its iris.

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Peony and Walden Pond

I began this blog with the concept that writing matters, and matters so much it’s bone marrow deep.  In these initial few weeks, I’ve written about living in Vermont and what I’m reading.  Have I amused anyone but myself?

These nights, I’m rereading Walden, a book whose spell I first fell under as a high school sophomore.  This reading around, in my forties, Walden‘s lyrical craft re-amazes me, while pushing the limits of radical anti-capitalism.  Any anarchist worth that word should be pencilling up these pages.  Further, I also see how deeply this book  — through my own novice reading — shaped the physical construct of my life.  Perhaps I was naturally inclined to living in rural Vermont; certainly, Thoreau strengthened that inclination.  I am certain the experiences of many others would concur.

This photo below I saw on my daughter’s laptop and asked for a copy.  She said, No, that’s not so good.  What do you like about that?

What I like is this:  this is a photo of extremes — rocky and fragile, crazed paint on an old house behind just-opened petals, and a great deal in between.  Isn’t that a portrait of Thoreau? Aiming for the core of living — bitter or not — seeking the sublime, and, between all that, eating a woodchuck.

Be it life or death, we crave only reality.  If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in our extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.

Photo by Molly S.

Photo by Molly S.

The Rainbow

This afternoon, driving out of Stowe, I hit a rainstorm so tumultuous I turned onto a side road just over the Morrisville line.  I pulled over on the shoulder, shut off the engine and lights, and simply sat there, the window still cranked open enough to throw bits of rain and wind across my face.  I had been inside all day, and I sat there listening to the rain pinging on the truck’s metal roof.

Without deliberating, I got out of the truck and walked down the road. Traffic whooshed by wetly on route 100, but no one appeared on this side road.  I was immediately drenched, within just moments, the rain running over my lips and into my mouth.  I hadn’t gone far when suddenly I stepped from pouring rain to sun.  I spanned the line of storm with my outstretched arms.  I did what anyone would have done:  I looked for a rainbow, but I didn’t find it until I was driving further down the highway, and there the rainbow was, hung over the village.  I passed beyond the village and then along the lovely stretch of road through tiny Elmore and around the lake, where the rainbow, in vibrant colors, spanned the cornfields.  I hadn’t seen a rainbow since the rogue January one my daughter and I discovered, and, driving today, I marveled at the rainbow’s sheer size, spread from hill to hill, and the intensity of its colors, neatly ordered, smoothly arched, infinitely beautiful.

And then my road home turned around the mountain, and the rainbow was gone.

On my drive, I had been listening to Walden, and when I stepped out of the truck, perhaps I was intending merely to shake my day’s labors from my woolly head, or to drop a problem that had been worrying and gnawing at me, chewing my thoughts irritatingly, all through that drive, my day, my listening, even, to Thoreau.  The rainbow, my brief companion, stretched over all of us in the corners of those towns nestled together, a skyward gem for all.

The better part of the man is soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal.

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