Doug Bruns

Snow Under Boot

In Nature, Philosophy, Writers on March 18, 2013 at 6:00 am
The Maine Woods

The Maine Woods

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.”



Library of America, Thoreau

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.

  1. Oh, yes! Thoreau would have approved.
    I have found guidance in Thoreau several times myself, and keep going back to his Walden again and again. This post made me happy.

    PS. I have hot asphalt under my sandals.
    PPS. In case you haven’t dipped into his works yet, I highly recommend Henry Bugbee’s The Inward Morning. I am reading it these days, and given your Thoreauvian bent of mind, I thought I’d mention this.

    • You=hot asphalt
      Me=more snow

      Thank you for the recommendation. I have just sent an email to my bookshop asking that a copy of The Inward Morning be ordered. I quick search prompts more than just an interest in this new thinker–more a necessity. Thank you for the direction down a new path. I press my palms together and bow in your direction.


  2. Haha !!! I remember that crunchy snow in Illinois. Can’t say I miss it !!

    • It’s odd, Becki, how much I’ve grown to love winter, at the expense of summer. We have more snow on the way tomorrow–bring it on! I was just discussing with friends last night that I’ve come to enjoy winter most, I think. It gives me a type of permission, I told them, to relax. I’m frankly sorry to see it coming to an end.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Winter does come without the chores of summer that include so much yard work. One nice thing about where we live in Oregon is we can travel an hour away to play in 15′ of snow on the mountain and ski and then be at the ocean by afternoon and watch the waves crash upon the shore.

      • It’s six am and as I sit here with my coffee I am watching the snow fall and the wind howl. Thought you’d appreciate that.

  3. You are most welcome, Doug!
    Maybe I should add here that your posts on Montaigne and James Joyce give me the impetus to finally get to reading them. They have been on my To-Read list for the longest time now.

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: