Friday, February 26, 2010

Thoreau

I've been reading some of Henry David Thoreau's essays as of late, and I came across this passage in one of them, 'Walking', that I'd like to share here:

"We had a remarkable sunset one day last November.  I was walking in a meadow, the source of a small brook, when the sun at last, just before setting, after a cold gray day, reached a clear stratum in the horizon, and the softest, brightest morning sunlight fell on the dry grass and on the stems of the trees in the opposite horizon, and on the leaves of the shrub-oaks on the hill-side, while our shadows stretched long over the meadow eastward, as if we were the only motes in its beams.  It was such a light as we could not have imagined a moment before, and the air also was so warm and serene that nothing was wanting to make a paradise of that meadow.  When we reflected that this was not a solitary phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen forever and ever an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still."

This passage strikes me for a number of reasons.  First, it reminds me of a brief moment last evening as I was outside cleaning my bicycle; the setting sun poked through that 'clear stratum' for only a moment, warming and calming the air I was sharing with the trees in my yard.  

It also evokes many similar memories that I, and I'm sure many of you, have of those perfect fleeting moments throughout my life - that first ride of the season on perfect singletrack, that early morning run down an untracked ski hill, that last cast of the day to a stubborn rainbow trout rising to everything but my fly, the  warming rays of a rising sun after a frigid night sleeping under the stars. Those sacred symbiotic moments that keep us recreating in the wild, an almost tangible connection to natural world around us, as if It allows us temporary membership to the Club.

More striking is the permanence of our existence it assigns to my psyche, knowing that moments like these were experienced and appreciated long before I came into being and will be relished long after I am gone.

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