Put to one side the light political touches.  This essay on walking and thinking was the piece I am most grateful for reading last week:

A habit of mine is to get outside to walk a few miles every day; it lifts the spirit, and clears the mind. Usually I am in one of Cape Cod’s remoter precincts, so I walk a favorite hilly trail in the pine-woods; but sometimes I am in New York, and I take my walk, as I did this afternoon, in Prospect Park.

The two experiences are very different, as you’d imagine. The woodland trail in the Outer Cape is a tiny track through the forest; although I know that others walk it, in the years I’ve been on it I’ve only ever encountered another person a handful of times. The knob-and-kettle terrain is carpeted with pine needles, and if there is no wind it can be eerily silent, save for the distant susurration of waves lapping at the western shore. The view opens from time to time to give a glimpse of the 25-mile expanse of Cape Cod Bay, and of the great arc of the Cape up to Provincetown. The sea-washed air is usually cool and wholesome — though in the winter, when the trail is covered in snow, and the northwest wind roars across the bay, it can be bitter.

This sort of solitude in the woods is, for those with a taste for it, food and drink for the soul; the connection with Nature’s immensities of time and space is direct, but all around you are the little here-and-nows of the living world in the present moment: wildflowers, miniature greenscapes of lichens and mosses, the birds wheeling overhead, and of course the trees themselves, both upright and fallen.

The walk in Prospect Park is a very different business. The Park itself is a beautiful creation: the crowning achievement of the great Frederick Law Olmstead. It is, too, in its statues, monuments, and architectural adornments, a book of history, both aesthetic and biographical. But unlike my trail in the Wellfleet woods, it is an artifact, a work of man. And there is no solitude here: Man, in all his variety, is everywhere.

This is, for someone like me, a healthy thing.

-thus Malcolm Pollack.  More at the link.

Humanity is itself a kind of nature, for those who have the eyes to see it.

We moved off our little farm to the big city suburbs when I was a kid.  I took it rough.  I missed my creek and willow thickets.  Most of all, I missed my cows and calves out in the pasture.

The only thing I wrote in high school that I remember now was an essay on how I got over my grief by starting to see the cattle in people. I am grateful for wise teachers who took the essay in the spirit it was  meant.


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