Another Saturday. After a disappointing morning including a local french bakery not accepting debit cards for eclairs, I filled up on french toast of my own making. Looking for something to do, I came upon my walking partner Mr. Thoreau.
We ambled our way down to the local walking track not two blocks from my apartment. We did so in silence because traffic was heavy and neither of us wished to be run over by a redneck in a semi truck while we were lost in thought.
As we started our little cross country journey through the woods, Mr. Thoreau continued his topic from the the previous week: himself. I am joking, but aside from a lot of allusions to a classical education and a few asides, Mr. Thoreau tends to base his thoughts on his experiences more than a logical chain of thought.
He started talking about the news and the newspaper in general, going on about how we need to read less about the average goings on of our village and towns and focus on our lives instead. It is a good point, but should it be made while we talked about why he lived in the woods?
For context, Mr. Thoreau has been telling me where he lived and what he lived for while he was at Walden Pond in the year 1845. He can be long winded and dry, but has a charm that has not dulled with time. I enjoy my walks with him, but tend to drift off as he talks.
At times, Mr. Thoreau says something powerful and profound. For example:
“If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive., let us go about our business.”
I liked those words. He followed it with “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” A clever man with a witty mind that tends to get away from him at times. Either way, I enjoy his musings.
Mr. Thoreau goes on to talk about reading and my ears perk up a bit. I am interested in what he has to say on the subject and pay attention as he talks. I laugh a bit when he says “Hindoo.” He begins talking about what we should be reading and I feel my mind wander. I start to think about my own writing, about creating a calendar to help me space out blog entries and create points of suspense and tension in my narratives. I have a idea about a road trip based on one I took years ago to California. I let my mind play on these topics as Mr. Thoreau talks.
I also notice the people dropping away. At noon on a gorgeous, sunny day the track should be packed and closer to the access point it is. But here, not half a mile out, I see only one or two people in front and behind us. Very odd.
Mr. Thoreau runs down his feelings on classical reading versus trivial literature and I have little to say. Sure, there’s a reason the classics continue for hundreds and thousands of years. The stories and the writings were unique for their times and excellent examples of their times, so folks should be familiar with them. I do not feel it is a waste of time to read newspapers and “common” literature, though. It is a matter of opinion.
The idea of language is thrown about. Mr. Thoreau believes we should not only read the classics, but read them in the original language. I attempt to express my disagreement with this, unless one is a translator or philosopher, who has the time? But Mr. Thoreau is insistent. He claims everyone should be a translator or philosopher. He can be a jerk.
Then he mentions his Canadian friend who gets the French newspaper to stay current with the language. I posit that maybe the friend only wanted to stay current with his home news, but my companion does not enjoy the irony of a miscommunication about communication. I make a snide comment that if the French do not change their views on adding words to their language, Canadians and Cajuns will be the only people speaking French someday. Again, my jokes fall on deaf ears.
We continue on and Mr. Thoreau moves topics from reading to sounds. His language seems to change and become lyrical and interesting. I enjoy his descriptions of early morning crowing and birds.
Not too long into Mr. Thoreau’s speech we are passed by a group of nearly twenty men and boys on bicycles. More than likely a Boy Scout troop out earning their biking merit badges. I watch them pass and think of my own times in the Scouts, but Mr. Thoreau soon has me rapt again as he tells me about church bells and the sounds of the forest.
A small bit later, a mother and daughter pass us. They are also on bicycles. The daughter is in her early teens riding a green bicycle. I cannot gage the age of the mother, but her bicycle is in need of repair and her perfume creates a trail behind her much like a cartoon skunk.
As Mr. Thoreau tells me about the stomping of a man in the ice and snow, a cyclist behind me begins yelling at the top of his voice, “Behind you. Behind you on the left.” The man then passes by me on my left. I should have stuck out my arm because that was what the cyclist deserved. Mr. Thoreau and myself are walking in the middle of a quiet wood and some jerk interrupts us by yelling when his bicycle is making more than enough noise to alert us. I can only come to one of three conclusions:
- He is deaf and believes the entire world works at his volume.
- He has been in an accident with someone walking and reading before that left him disfigured in his very soul.
- He does this to everybody and goes home to tell his wife the score count for that day. “Scared the crap outta 8 people today, honey! Where’s my journal?”
After the jerk moves on, Mr. Thoreau continues talking and my mind wanders to another story I am thinking about writing and how to fictionalize the Boy Scouts. What name would you use? I settle on “Rangers” as a placeholder for now and jot it down in my daily notebook.
Mr. Thoreau shocks me back to his musings again when he comments about “the Orientals.” The usage in itself is simply a product of his times. I cannot fault him for that because as far a he is concerned he is correct. What I can fault him for is naming “the Orientals” as the author of a quote without any other reference. It is odd to say the least.
At this time, I notice another odd phenomenon about the trail today. I pass people and people pass me, but I never pass the same people. Coming and going, I should at least see the same runner or cyclist returning to an access point, right? There are not that many access points to this trail and to repeat persons... Just odd.
It is at this point I pass the wall of graffiti. These messages are of both hope (it says so in 3D block letters: “Hope”) and not so inspirational (one says “Give Up”). Another artist feels remorse for his crime and writes, “Sorry about your wall.” At least he did not confuse “your” with “you’re.” A twerp, but a grammatically correct twerp. If you are looking for guidance in this small town, best not look toward the graffiti artists. They are a divided group. And they like to draw penises.
At a point where the trail crosses a road, Mr. Thoreau and I stop discussing his enjoyment of cow sounds and how they can sound like minstrels late in the day. I did not even know they had minstrels in his time. We are passed by a loud, large truck with two boys inside. One smiles and holds up a beer in salute. I nod at my past self and hope he does not find a tree to wrap himself around.
Past the road, Mr. Thoreau begins talking about owls and how much he enjoys them. As he says, “I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men,” a young lady in giant sunglasses passes me. My laughter gains frowns from both the author and the pretty owl creature.
Mr. Thoreau loses my attention once again and my mind wanders to a poetry reading from high school. I cannot remember what I read, but I do remember someone singing Simon and Garfunkel. What an odd night of poetry. Then Mr. Thoreau quotes “healthy, weathy and wise” and it takes me a few more minutes of contemptemplation and not listening to Mr. Thoreau before I remember that is a quote by Mr. Benjamin Franklin.
I leave Mr. Thoreau as he ends his thoughts on sound, listing off his many joys in its form. I agree with him about the rooster, but am annoyed at his insistent reference to Chanteclair. I cannot tell you why.