May 14th, 2018

Thoreau

The Deep Time of Walden Pond

The Deep Time of Walden Pond: The science and history of the lake Thoreau made famous.



A careful reading of Walden; or, Life in the Woods makes it clear that Thoreau never intended his cabin to be a solitary hermitage, although fans and detractors alike often misunderstand this. It was more an author’s workshop than a fortress of isolation, and throughout his lakeside residency he often visited family and friends in Concord and entertained guests at Walden. Ice-cutters and woodcutters, anglers and boaters, and even a noisy train were as much a part of his surroundings as the lake, woods, and wildlife. He retreated to the cabin largely in order to write in a quieter setting than he could find in town and to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Thoreau’s cabin experiment was also a field test of the transcendentalist philosophy that Emerson championed. For Emerson, nature represented an embodiment of the divine, an aesthetic ideal that was best described in poetic or quasi-religious abstractions. Contemplating it was a way to transcend normal daily life and seek deeper spiritual lessons. Emerson believed that nature was “all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME,” and “essences unchanged by man; space, the air, the river, the leaf.” Such ideas still resonate with many of us today. Recognizing that satellites now cruise space and our fossil carbon emissions contaminate the air, rivers, and leaves of the entire planet, author Bill McKibben built a similar concept into the title of his groundbreaking book on global warming, The End of Nature.


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Portrait of a Red Kangaroo - Macropus rufus

Finishing off the week of what has been a collection of wildlife portraits, I display this photograph of a Young Red Kangaroo resting in the shade.

Kangaroos are the experts of relaxing during the day, and getting all the work done through the evening. Which makes me think a lot about my current job. Maybe I should be a kangaroo? It is good advice from an expert.

Below the kangaroo is posed well within the frame of the picture. It has become a favourite. However, many more photographs will come as I travel through the remote Northern Territory of Australia.