Category Archives: News and Events

Furnishing Walden – a poem for Henry’s birthday

Furnishing Walden 

a chair
                  a bed
a desk

The desk came first in 1838 as
it became apparent that the hours
afoot would be brought here

where they could be inked into lines
that would circumscribe worlds -
local paths, thickets, swamps,

birds, insects, plants, the odd
groundhog - all these ligaments
and lineaments, a sort of puritan

golem who would stir drafts later
and one by one readers
would walk out and be saved

for a day and the next day
each would saunter out
again along those lines

and every so often one
would not return. He saw
so far forward, you wonder

if he lived in his world,
but then you see him sprawled
on the young ice inching out,

reading the worm-trail of
history in the mud the whole
lens of coming winter flexing

beneath him and you know
from the seep of cold
that he was there, and you know

now know how you should live.
You push back the chair and
rock for a moment on the rockers

he attached to allow for just
this and you turn like a leaf
in fall contemplative;

it is, this walking motion,
the birth of thought
its pod opening like last year’s

milkweed, its heart-shaped seeds
suspended beneath the wisp
of white sail as they float

forth. All night long
on the modified Chinese sedan
that is your bed, its

rattan hand holding you up,
you dream and the small
night animals in this patch

of borrowed woodland
say that you sleep
and awaken everywhere

at home.

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

Afloat at the Theater

…even as the eagle drives her young at last from the neighborhood of her eyrie, — for their own good, since there is not food enough there for all…Thoreau, Journal, 3/22/61

As we draw near these duck-broods, a conversational cluck-talk suddenly morphs into squawking concern – every duck’s talking at once, and they have begun to hurry this way and that. Are we cause? In our three small boats do we appear to be duck-doom? Ah, no…something else is near.

Also amply fed in this season of plenty, an eagle wheels above the now-panicked covey of ducks, who – it must be said – have had a prolific breeding season. There may be 10 adult ducks in this flotilla 50 or so, and seconds ago one of them has set up the alarm, but now much of the cacophony rises from fuzzy brown ducklings, who seem suddenly to have adopted the random movements of a moth when a bat flies near. The orderly little files of ducks that had been paddling serenely out of our boats’ path have become a hurried scatter of flurried (flightless) wings and webbed feet scratching for water-traction.

The eagle, some twenty feet off the deck, nears, and wherever it veers, 20 ducks dive. Little explosions of spray show where they’ve gone under; their disappearances are audible, like so many small stones raining down. Now, the eagle flares wings, then drops, talons extended, splashing down like an off-kilter parachute, perhaps right atop one of the swimming brown streaks. But it is a mostly graceless attempt, followed by a labored rowing of wings on the water to get – finally, with empty claws – airborne again. All this work, the eagle’s affect seems to say. But once soaring again, the bird’s menace returns, eliciting more squawked protest and more darting in all directions.

AdultW.LloydMacKenzie

After a minute of circling, the eagle appears to tire and wings off to perch in a white pine hundreds of yards away; once there, he vanishes from our sight, and we look back to the ducks, who have begun to gather again into their usual softly chuckling conversations. Then – ALARUM! a gabble of cluck-squawks! Who spotted the eagle is unclear, but well before he arrives to search again in circles for a slow duck, fowl consternation rises and the webbed feet flurry. There must be a lookout duck in the group; does every covey have its lookout? More little geysers of spray as they dive – it is as if they have all drilled for this moment, though they also pop back up quickly enough to suggest that a forward-looking eagle should be able to nab one as he or she emerges. But no, there’s no more awkward eagle-diving, only circling, which goes on for another long minute before its time for another pine rest.

And then, a minute or so later, the eagle leaves, flying upcoast for, who knows? – dumber ducks, slow fish, perhaps an attempt to shakedown a more efficient osprey, who, unlike our eagle, dives often and comes up with food sometimes.

But for three minutes we have been admitted to an avian theater with three, floating front-row seats.

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

Declaration

Note: I’ve posted this piece once before, on July 4th of last year, and so a second posting makes a bit of a tradition of it. Happy dependence day!

Two years, two months, two days.
Henry Thoreau was wary of symbols

thoughts and things that go two
by two into the ark of the mind.

And when he took time off, absconded
with it to the pond on July 4th,

1845, he scoffed at those who saw
declaration of independence, in truth

he might have said, I am more
dependent than ever, on this pond

on this earth, on these feet, not
to mention the sky that shines

in the water, a medium really
for seeing up and down, for

seeing two ways at once, a unity
upon which I row my boat and

in which I bathe every day.

Morning water at Walden

Morning water at Walden

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