We never tire of the drama of sunset. I go forth each afternoon and look into the west a quarter of an hour before sunset, with fresh curiosity, to see what new picture will be painted there, what new panorama exhibited, what new dissolving views. [...] Every day a new picture is painted and framed, held up for half and hour, in such lights as the Great Artist chooses, and then withdrawn, and the curtain falls.
“Science does not embody all that men know, only what is for men of science. The woodman tells me how he caught trout in a box trap, how he made his trough for maple sap of pine logs, and the spouts of sumach or white ash, which have a large pith. He can relate his facts to human life. The knowledge of an unlearned man is living and luxuriant like a forest, but covered with mosses and lichens and for the most part inaccessible and going to waste; the knowledge of the man of science is like timber collected in yards for public works, which still supports a green sprout here and there, but even this is liable to dry rot.”
I also like the bit where he mentions that a lot of man’s knowledge ends up going to waste – presumably because it is lost with the man at death. Henry David Thoreau, though, didn’t live in a world with blogs and Twitter. If more people would spout out knowledge through these channels, instead of negativity, I think Henry’s thoughts could be outdated.
“They are just beginning to use wheels in Concord, but only in the middle of the town, where the snow is at length worn and melted down to bare ground in the middle of the road, from two to ten feet wide. Sleighs are far the most common, even here. In Cambridge there is no sleighing. For the most part, the middle of the road from Porterâ€™s to the College is bare and even dusty for twenty to thirty feet in width. The College Yard is one half bare. So, if they have had more snow than we, as some say, it has melted much faster.”
He finished his entry with the fact that he couldn’t travel “in the cars” to Concord. There were no cars in his day so by this I can only imagine he means a horse-pulled wagon with wheels rather than sleigh runners.
If I was his neighbor in 1856 he could have borrowed my 4-wheel drive Jeep.
My drive home from Viddler HQ in Bethlehem, PA takes me over the northeastern-most tip of the Pocono Mountains – an area called Pocono Summit. During my drive home last Thursday I remarked that “The snow covered pine trees at the top of Mt. Pocono really deserve to be photographed.”
“I am afraid I have not described vividly enough the aspect of that Lodging Snow of the 19th and to-day partly. Imagine the innumerable twigs and boughs of the forest (as you stand in its still midst), crossing each other at every conceivable angle on every side from the ground to thirty feet in height, with each its zigzag wall of snow four or five inches high, so innumerable at different distances one behind another that they completely close up the view like a loose-woven downy screen, into which, however, stooping and winding, you ceaselessly advance. The wintriest scene, – which perhaps can only be seen in perfection while the snow is yet falling, before wind and thaw begin. Else you miss, you lose, the delicate touch of the master. A coarse woof and warp of snowy batting, leaving no space for a bird to perch.”
“Say the thing with which you labor. It is a waste of time for the writer to use his talents merely. Be faithful to your genius. Write in the strain that interests you most. Consult not the popular taste.”
Not that I’m planning on going against the grain just for the sake of doing so, but I like the sentiment to always do what you feel passionate about rather than conforming for audience or peoples.
I recommend adding THIS DATE, from Henry David Thoreau’s Journal to your reading list.