Fog in the Trees

Journal, May 19th, 1856: “Thick fog this morning, which lasted late in the forenoon and left behind it rainy clouds for the afternoon.”

It is still. It is quiet. The days of rowdy, sun-stirred air end with this gray morning fog in the trees; it is perfect for a Sunday, the slowest kind of time, contemplative, a piney retreat from the wound-up weeks on either side.

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It seems to me that fog’s human expression is unlabored breathing, the slow, quiet in and out of merger with what’s beyond. A morning like this is as close as I come to being a tree, as close, perhaps, as I come to simply being in place. I am not a religious sort, but if I were, I’d say this fog is visible prayer; surely it is subtle song seen.

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Thoreau, of course, was not kept in by thick air or promise of rain; instead in the afternoon, he is sailing up the Assabet, when he hears this:”…a traveller riding a long the highway is watching my sail while he hums a tune. How inspiring and elysian to hear when the traveller or laborer from a call to his horse or the murmur of ordinary conversation rises into song! It paints the landscape suddenly as no agriculture , no flower crop that can be raised. It is at once another land, the abode of poetry.”

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Rite of Spring

Many of us have such a rite, often a private moment or meandering that initiates the season. Henry Thoreau, as noted a few posts ago, made ritual of getting his boat onto the river, often forcing the nascent spring into narrow leads of water in the still-dominant ice. There is an excited cadence to his journal’s prose as he caulks his boat, readies for its seasonal baptism.

My own ritual requires a little travel, and so sometimes it must wait a little deeper into this season. But on May’s 3rd day, I awoke and looked up at the mountain I must climb to say, “It’s spring.” That I would climb also back into some north-side drifts of snow and ice made me feel kin to Thoreau as he rowed and shoved his boat through the ice to reach Fairhaven; we both would get to this expansive season, even through ice.

Spring invites all sorts of rites, including, of course, the 6th’s remembrance of Henry Thoreau’s full short life.

The following photos form an impressionistic saunter from the day’s trail And you? Let us know your rite/s?

Morning's (glacial) erratic - what animal within?

Morning’s (glacial) erratic – what animal within?

Yesterday's moose - note: I have spared you photos of scat.

Yesterday’s moose – note: I have spared you photos of scat.

The centerpoint from the south.

The centerpoint from the south.

Short snooze on the day's first summit. Looking north.

Short snooze on the day’s first summit. Looking north.

Weather shifts; Washington shows white in the distance.

Weather shifts; Washington shows white in the distance.

Centerpoint peak up close

Centerpoint peak up close

 

Rock and Sky - up there

Rock and Sky – up there

 

Summit inscription from Henry's era.

Summit inscription from Henry’s era.

 

The day's "crux" - a 100' descent of steep ice.

The day’s “crux” – a 100′ descent of steep ice.

 

Afternoon's erratic , lichen-starred quartz. Animal within?

Afternoon’s erratic , lichen-starred quartz. Animal within?

 

Down to the day's flowers - Downy Violet

Down to the day’s flowers – Downy Violet

 

Trout Lily

Trout Lily

 

Tomorrow's trillium

Tomorrow’s trillium

 

 

 

 

 

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Attention – Lions and Apples

Said as the French do – ah’ton’cion – P-22 is back in the news.

Forgive me my ongoing fascination with Los Angelinos’ ongoing fascination with mountain lion P-22, who recently turned up tucked in under the deck of a house. As ever with this celebrity feline, this was big news – type P-22 into your search engine for a gander at it.

P-22 looking at you Photo: LA Times

P-22 looking at you
Photo: LA Times

As the only known successful migrant across a broad freeway, P-22 has come to represent the way the wild insists, even when it arrives at the edge of a wide asphalt river full of people intent on being there… now. And our media attention to him has come to represent – well, what does it say about us and our relations with the wild?

Even as we hem the wild in, and point our various inventions its way, we crave its return. That verb, crave, is intentional. It represents the deep linkage we have with wildness, a current that runs within our bodies at levels far deeper than our Platte-like rational rivers. We would howl (or snarl) at much we encounter daily – the many others who crowd our lives, their presence constant in our peripheral awareness, and, other times, in our faces.

So, when an apex example of that wild shows up under a deck from which we like, perhaps, to contemplate life, the symbolism is irresistible – not far away, ready to emerge from the shadows is a toothy part of self intent on hunting the day; the remnant hairs on our necks and backs rise.

It is a long amble from lion to apple (another recent fascination), but lions had been chased so far from New England in Thoreau’s day, that an apple will have to do as stand-in. And, because it is walking season (every season is, of course, but spring invites more), Easterbrooks Country (Estabrook Woods, today) seems the right destination. If a lion were to be anywhere in the Concord area, Estabrook would welcome it. Here then is Henry Thoreau in his essay Wild Apples:

Some soils, like a rocky tract of the Easterbrooks Country in my neighborhood, are so suited to the apple, that it will grow faster in them without any care, or if only the ground is broken up once a year, than it will in many places with any amount of care. The owners of this tract allow that the soil is excellent for fruit, but they say that it is so rocky that they have not patience to plough it, and that, together with the distance, is the reason why it is not cultivated. There are, or were recently, extensive orchards there standing without order. Nay, they spring up wild and bear well there in the midst of pines, birches, maples, and oaks. I am often surprised to see rising amid these trees the rounded tops of apple- trees glowing with red or yellow fruit, in harmony with the autumnal
tints of the forest.

Fruit of such wildness rising seems a constant yearning for all of us, even as we might shy from having a feline version right beneath us.

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