Blood for the Thrush

The wood thrush’s is no opera music; it is not so much the composition as the strain, the tone, — cool bars of melody from the atmospheres of everlasting morning or evening. It is the quality of sound not the sequence. Thoreau, Journal, 7/5/52

Wood-thrush

The wood thrush was said to be Henry Thoreau’s favorite bird – he called it “the finest songster in the grove” – and its dependency on deep woods mimics his nicely. Whenever I hear a thrush, I know that I’ve made my way to the woods-world, to a fullness of forest; I am beyond the margin. Here then is one such walk.

Blood for the Thrush

Morning walk and
the sanguinaries gather
as if I were an offering; still,
I figure a thimbleful’s
fair trade for this liquid
trill, and I give
to those I miss
with my swinging cap
equivalent to a horse’s tail
in its constancy and futility.
In deep, I reach
a place where four songs
overlap, a rippling
call-and-response throughout
these woods that some call home.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Arts, General, Henry David Thoreau, Literature, Living Deliberately, Nature, News and Events, The Roost, Thoreau Quote

Living Space

Another pondside that brought on contemplation...and painting - Monet's.

Another pondside that brought on contemplation…and painting – Monet’s.

As we near solstice I find myself returning often in mind to the Walden image of summer-Henry “rapt in revery” in the doorway of his pondside house.

what square-footing did he need
in the world, living little
indoors, large
outside – anachronism even
as a young man,
another way of saying
timeless which some
see as eternal – lair
fitting nicely the proportions
of his human animal
five foot six and
let’s say 140 pounds
there he is “rapt”
in his doorway on
his limen “in revery.”

It’s deep summer, nothing
lasts; he knows autumn
tints are on the way,
the tubercular seed will
flower and drop, the
scarlet oak will hold its
red a long time,
but today he is exactly
between worlds, so
at home that even the birds
flit “noiselessly through
the house,” suspended
above its rectangular
footprint.

“I grew in these seasons
like corn in the night,”
he will write
effectively closing
the loop of a day,
encircling a lifetime,
squaring its effect
again and again.
It ripples out still,
reaching me in my slat
of sun by an open window
these 161 summers later.

IMG_0869

2 Comments

Filed under Arts, Environment, General, Henry David Thoreau, Literature, Living Deliberately, Nature, The Roost, Thoreau Quote, Walden

A Spruce House Made in the Rain

“But give me a spruce house made in the rain.” Thoreau in an 11/4/60 letter to H.G.O. Blake.

When he wrote these words, Henry Thoreau was thinking back to his summer trip to the White Mountains, and he was musing about, for him, a usual annoyance:

several nuisances that make traveling there-abouts unpleasant…The chief of these was the mt houses. I might have supposed that the main attraction of that region, even to citizens, lay in its wildness and unlikeness to the city, & yet they make it as much like the city as they can afford to. I heard that the Crawford House was lighted with gas & had a large saloon, with its band for music, for dancing.

I go to these same mountains later today, aiming for a mix of research and rambling. And a glance at the forecast says I may see some rain; on high there’s been some June snow and ice, a brief refresher for the last scraps of winter shaded still in high crevices. Remnant winter may suggest that I stay low.

Looking up

Looking up

What I most need to remember, even as I slip on the straps of the little settlement of my pack, is that I am going to a “spruce house,” not a “mt house,” some little replica of what I already know perched on a high slope. In the White Mountains, many of the “mt houses” of Thoreau’s time are gone, though their foundation stones still form rectangles on top of Lafayette and Moosilauke, for example. And Mt Washington remains a “mt house” outpost in the sky, with buildings old and new. But other peaks feature mostly water- and wind-worn stone and stunted spruce.

Atop Moosilauke

Atop Moosilauke

There is, however, new encroachment – for many who walk to these summits the “mt house” now takes the form of a mt screen, carrying in it news of the valley; on a screen, “they make it as much like the city as they can afford to.” And now, even on mountain summits, I often see people in the familiar screen-hunch so common along our sidewalks and cafes of our cities. We seem ever more reluctant to go to the “unlikeness to the city,” to leave it behind.

Why is that?

If a band plays on up there, its music should be the wind in the trees and across the rocks. And I would have a different kind of dancing in a spruce house.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Environment, General, Henry David Thoreau, Living Deliberately, Nature, The Roost, Thoreau Quote