How I Missed the Anniversary…of Thoreau’s Death…Again

May 6th. You’d think it would be embossed in my mind – all these years of reading and teaching Thoreau, and yet, it slipped by again.

On the evening of this slippage, while I supervised an impatient study hall, I wondered to myself: why is that?

Here’s what I answered: it sounds simple, hokey, even, but for me, Henry Thoreau lives on. It would be a cliche to point to Walden and other works and say, “see, all around the world people read these words and then look up and change; all around the world people read and develop or renew their faith in I.” True…but trite to write.

And I’ve been reading through his spring journal of 1855, even as I live my spring of 2014. We have shared hawks and peepers and redwing blackbirds, woodland meanderings. All good, but…

Here then is a more personal truth: years of living with Henry Thoreau’s writing have given me new eyes. Every day when I walk out the door, I look up, I scan the peripheries of each world I step into – yesterday the robin nesting in the dwarf pine was facing east as she sat atop her two blue eggs; today, she’s facing south. The copper beech in the yard is kicking finally last year’s dun leaves from a hold that endured quite a winter. The parking lot maple prepares a riot of seeds…so much faith.

It all begins…again.

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