Yesterday, we went to Walden. As you know if you’ve been reading for any length of time, this is a very special place for Grace, Whit, and me, and we like to go year-round. Every summer we have a morning swim there, and we also like to go in the fall, winter or spring, to walk around the often-deserted pond. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that for us (and, I know, for millions of others), Walden is holy.
We woke up to an empty Sunday. What a divine privilege these wide-open days are. I know that now that I can sense their running through the hourglass of years. We had a quick breakfast, Whit was whining, Grace was annoyed at something, Matt was reluctant, but I kept us moving and all four of us headed west.
The path was iced-over and slippery when we took off around the pond. Grace and Whit scampered ahead, knowing their way around now, exploring up and down the snowy hillsides that arc away from the pond.
The beach was snowy and the pond was frozen completely solid. We arrived at the site of Thoreau’s house, where the pile of rocks, usually studded with cairns, was covered with snow. I read the famous lines that I know by heart under my breath, watching my children climbing on the pile of snow marking where the writer had lived, feeling the familiar sense of tightness in my chest and hot tears in my eyes. Yes, this: to live deliberately. This: to learn what life has to teach.
So many of those lessons are to be found in the achingly blue sky, the brilliant white snow, the tangible peace in the air, the evocative lines of poetry. There are so many lessons about life right here in nature, and I recalled again how powerful it is to simply be in the world, to look and listen and breathe, a lesson I keep learning over and over again.
By the time we’d circled the pond and come back to where we started we all had pink cheeks and calmer hearts. As it always does, Walden had worked its particular, mysterious magic on all four of us. The poetry and the blue sky had soaked through our pores, through our spirits, and we were reminded of what it is to live this life.
And I lagged behind my family, watching them walk away, standing on the frozen beach and gazing at that unbelievable, outrageous blue. This beautiful world.
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