After reading Thoreau’s “Walking” this past summer, 2020, I can’t stop thinking about his words. Walking was a speech he delivered ten times. It was published in 1862 just after he passed. I happily shared it with my granddaughter, Savannah, and that led us into great conversations about his walks and modern-day walking! One comment Savannah posed, to me, was how most of us do not take long ‘thinking’ walks. “We go from house to car to shopping malls or wherever and do not realize how much of our Universe we never see!”
This book rests on my chess table and each time I pass it, I greet Thoreau with a nod and whisper, to him, that I did a short nature walk and thank him for his wisdom. His words still inspire me even though they were delivered in 1851. One hundred and sixty-nine years ago!
I remember when I lived in Harrison, NY, I would go for walks, in the Marshlands, alone or with two or three people, as a nature class. I’d always compare trees to people. Some bent as though they had survived a great storm; some choked with vines and other trees, living their perfect lives. Tall, dressed with healthy green leaves and vibrant. The point was to compare ourselves to the trees. The one question that emerged was “is that really me?” Thoreau’s words reminded me of my walking days. We often walked in Manor Park in Larchmont which has a beautiful waterfront; the Long Island Sound. Not so many trees but a peaceful walkway.
The major point is that walking in and with nature is really therapeutic. It slows the mind and body down. We all need that! My walks always reminded me that there is someone far greater than me! And if trees can weather all storms, so can we! I think it’s called adapting to, not only turbulence but whatever comes our way; with our permission or not! I loved one particular tree in the Marshlands of Rye; it was not very tall and it was dressed with few leaves because it was being choked by the thorny vines surrounding it. My thought; if someone would just cut those vines! Let this tree breathe!
My daughter gave me “Walking” for my birthday in July of 2020. It reminded me of another birthday we took, family-style, to San Francisco, and on that birthday we visited Muir Woods! Now, that was a walk to remember! The minute I stepped inside of Muir RedWoods, my soul felt an unknown peace.
The trees, so very tall, formed a canopy at the top and only let God’s minimal sunlight in. I was amongst the giants of our world. They deserved ‘looking up’ to! When peace arraigns, body, mind, and soul then we are at one with God and ourselves! Magical thoughts prevail! Even though the Big Reds towered miles above me, I felt their peace and strength. Deep in this forest, the sounds and sights of the city were erased. No clanging of a trolly or clashing of the waves on the rocks; just me at one with Himself!
Many of us live in small towns, villages or big cities and most likely, our trees have been removed to make room for housing, shopping malls or another vast building! And what about the cemetery scene? Seems that those old souls in their 31/2 by 6’ are not always at peace!
First, the ordinance is to remove trees for future growth; then, in turn, a bereaved family requests: in lieu of flowers, please plant a tree! Where?
I began this blog with a tribute to Thoreau; a happy one I thought! Look where I ended up; in a cemetery! Maybe in the far future, when land is limited, we will have to turn our ideas to cremation and a tree planted for each soul. Then, the new world can “walk” amongst the giants they once knew! Happy thoughts and Happy Walking!
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau
“When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?” Henry David Thoreau
A daily walk has its benefits but when walking amongst the trees, this is a perfect tonic for the soul. Give your Soul a treat! Happy walking! Let the trees teach you wisdom.
Nancy Fraioli is a retired Benefits Asst. from Town/Village of Harrison, NY. She’s alive and well, residing in Sarasota with her daughter and family and enjoying the Floridian lifestyle daily.
Her passions are writing, reading books of philosophy, children’s stories and poetry. Her deep love is living, learning and sharing how faith, meditation, and music guide her daily life. And she loves to lunch with the ladies!