Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shaking off the village

I am back from meeting my new grandson. I could go on and on about that amazing baby, but this blog is about my summer at the lake, so I’ll stay focused on that here.

I have been rereading Thoreau this summer. Like me, Thoreau liked to take long walks to clear his mind and renew his spirit. Okay, okay. I also walk because the dog needs exercise and we both need to burn some calories. Maybe even skip a few meals. Thoreau doesn’t make any mention of this in his essay.

Thoreau preferred walking in the woods. I like walking on the dirt road. He walked in a parabola—I walk in a straight line. Thoreau liked evening “saunters”—I prefer brisk morning exercise. However, Thoreau and I do share one thing in our walking habits. Like Thoreau, I try to focus on the moment when I walk, on what I’m seeing and hearing and smelling on the journey. I really make an effort. Thoreau called it “shaking off the village.”

I like to use a walking stick when I go into the woods. My friend Ed carved my favorite walking stick from a tree taken from our property on the lake. It is about five feet tall and an inch and a half in diameter. The top is carved into a bearded face, a wood sprite who scowls at me during our walks. The hand grip is wrapped in soft deer skin, laced on with a thin strip of rawhide. I take it into the woods in the even that some wild animal might try to attack me or the dog. Of course, that has never happened.

Here is my walking stick:

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