Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On walks, when I see leaves in the street or on sidewalks, I sometimes kick my way through them, making as much noise as I want.  It’s fun.

Early in the morning, I like to walk through the light frost and hear and feel it make a slight crunch.  It’s fun.

On a late afternoon walk, I saw the soon-to-be-full moon with a jet and jet stream across it.  What I saw was good.  I wondered what the pilot saw.

There are those in town who rake leaves and others who blow them with a loud, obnoxious-sounding blower.  Those who rake show more respect for nature and for their neighbors.  Raking is fun.  I enjoy the feel of the rake, the colors of the leaves as they roll up together, the sound.

Packages of Christmas gifts are on the way from my small town to Norway, Japan, and Colorado.  I have one more package to send to Japan.  Copies of my A Fifth Book of Days, quotations from my readings, will soon be mailed to New York, Georgia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, and California.  I keep the post office and Fed Ex busy this time of year.

Get a copy of The Blotter, if you are in an area that gives them out free.  If not, go online to  Get a copy of this December’s issue and enjoy Shelby Stephenson’s “. . . cataloguing, caroling, ambling, buzzing, chomping,/biting, diddling, presenting subjects. . .” about country music.  (“Chapter 52 from ‘Country'”)  And pause in thought at the two fine poems by John Abbott.  I plan to buy his chapbook.

Listening to the Traditional Folk station on Pandora Radio, I heard on Thanksgiving morning that famous and fun piece set on Thanksgiving Day, Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.”  Later that day, at Thanksgiving feast in Wilmington, the host asked what we could do to interest young people in voting.  I answered “Re-instate mandatory, active military draft for men and women at age 18.”  Then we’d hear “Alice’s Restaurant” more.  And we’d have more young people involved in politics.

Another question:  How do we get audiences at symphony performances to enjoy contemporary music?  Conductor Robert Moody gave an enthusiastic talk before two comtemporary pieces performed last week:  John Adams’s “Doctor Atomic Symphony” and Srul Irving Glick’s “The Time Has Come,” with the Symphony Chorale.  He led the audience through an understanding of what it was about to hear.  There were also useful program notes.  Hats off to Moody and the Winston-Salem Symphony and Chorale for good work with new music.

Thoreau’s last essay, “October, or Autumnal Tints,” has been reprinted into a beautiful book from W.W. Norton & Company.  It contains an opening biographical sketch and introduction by Robert D. Richardson and watercolors by Lincoln Perry.  I re-read the essay with Richardson’s thoughts in mind and with the watercolors delighting my eye as Thoreau’s words did my consciousness.  The tone is exultant.  There are vivid descriptions of the purple grasses, the red maple, the elm, the sugar maple, the scarlet oak, and fallen leaves as they appear in autumn.  Examples:  (1) “October is the month of painted leaves. . . . As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint, just before they fall, so the year near its setting.  October is its sunset sky; November the late twilight.”  (2) “. . . to see what the trees mean by their high colors and exuberance of spirits. . .”  (3) “Boys are raking them [fallen leaves] in the street, if only for the pleasure of dealing with such clean crisp substances.  Some sweep the paths scrupulously neat, and then stand to see the next breath strew them with new trophies.”  (4) “Let us have a good many Maples and Hickories and Scarlet Oaks, then I say, Blaze away!  Shall that dirty roll of bunting in the gun-house be all the colors a village can display?  A village is not complete, unless it have these trees to mark the season in it.  They are important, like the town-clock.  A village that has them not will not be found to work well.  It has a screw loose, an essential part is wanting.  Let us have Willows for spring, Elms for summer, Maples and Walnuts and Tepeloes for autumn, and Oaks for all seasons.”

Just as interesting are Thoreau’s views about perception:  (1) “Objects are concealed from our view, not so much because they are out of the course of our visual ray as because we do not bring our minds and eyes to bear on them. . . . The greater part of the phenomena of Nature are for this reason concealed from us all our lives.”   (2) “Nature does not cast pearls before swine.  There is just as much beauty visible to us in the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate, –not a grain more.”

When I finished reading the book twice, I wondered where to shelve it.  With nonfiction?  With art?  With spiritual writing?  I decided to make it the first book of a new shelf, a shelf of the books I love.

Thank you for reading.  I hope your Thanksgiving time was good and that you will have a good week.  Be in touch, if you’d like.  Leave a message here, or use my regular email:  If I don’t know you, please write “blog” in the subject line.


About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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3 Responses to Wednesday, November 28, 2012

  1. Cissie says:

    Since you love raking so much, Bill, stop by anytime you’re in Smithfield. I can keep you busy and happy!! And while you’re at it, you can wrap my Christmas presents — just as soon as I buy some!

    Totally agree about bringing back the draft. I’ll bet some lawmakers would think twice before authorizing so much money to be spent on needless killing and devastation. And you’re so right — young people would rush to the polls!

  2. lundbep says:

    I too agree that some sort of compulsory service to the nation would be a good idea. Of course, I don’t think it needs to be military. What about volunteering a year or two to Teach for America or to serving the less privileged in some other way? Surely we could come up with some options.

  3. John York says:

    Good words from Thoreau!

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