We still have snow here in places, especially in the north, and certainly in the woods where the pine-tree canopy shades the forest floor. I took a little hike yesterday and there is nothing like a crunching late-season snow, blue-bird sky, and scent of pine to fine-tune a person.
Not a lot came of this fine-tuning and maybe that is the best result of all. Maybe a walk in the woods should remain largely and exactly that: a walk in the woods. As Thoreau relates in his essay, Walking, “When a traveller asked Wordsworth’s servant to show him her master’s study, she answered, ‘Here is his library, but his study is out of doors.'”
In anther essay–to me, his most important, Life Without Principal–Thoreau writes:
“If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”
Two paragraphs above this passage, the sage of Walden, invites us to “consider the way in which we spend our lives.”
I brought my copy of Thoreau to my desk this afternoon because I wanted to say something about activism to perhaps refute my comment of last week, “We have mostly rolled over.” I wanted to suggest that perhaps we have not, indeed, rolled over, now that I think more on it. I brought Henry David with me because he usually has guidance when I most need it. I was certain he would point the way in his essay Civil Disobedience. But I never made it there, lost instead in my reverie of a walk in the woods.
And as you can see, I found his guidance, just not the guidance I expected. He would approve, nonetheless, I think.