Walking with Thoreau


Years ago, Lydia Jackson and I were pen pals and enjoyed sharing secrets.  She confided that she’d met Ralph Waldo Emerson at a social gathering held after one of his lectures and, BOOM, immediately got stars in her eyes. A short time later, she had a dream about him which, considering her infatuation, was pretty normal. But I was blown away when she told me he’d written asking her hand in marriage.

Henry David Thoreau

Immediately after the wedding, Emerson changed Lydia’s name to Lidian, a name he found more exotic.  She, in turn, didn’t call him Waldo like everyone else.  Instead, she called him Mr. Emerson. That, to me, was already a warning. Even though, insisted Lidian, there was much mutual respect between the two, there was little tenderness.  Not only did Mr. Emerson still grieve over his first wife, Ellen, he also took long walks in the woods with the activist, Margaret Fuller, claiming they were simply trying to transcend the empirical.

Henry David Thoreau

At the time, Henry David Thoreau lived with the couple.  In exchange for room and board, he did all the manual labor on their property. So it was no surprise to me when Lydia and Thoreau became close. Just as it came as no surprise to me that Mr. Emerson and Thoreau began arguing–there were too many roosters crowing in the same house. Emerson gave Thoreau a small plot of land and told his handyman to go build a cabin and move out. In 1845, Thoreau went to live at Walden Pond. Here he began writing about the transcendental experience of living surrounded by nature. Every day he would take long walks then write about them in his diary. Thoreau truly loved being surrounded by trees because it made him feel better. It’s what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku aka forest bathing.

Henry David Thoreau

Wood emits an essential oil, phytocide, that naturally restores and rejuvenates us.  Not only does it lower heart rate and blood pressure, it also lowers the concentration of cortisol (stress), and improves the immune system function.

We are a part of nature.  So being surrounded by nature is like going home.  Nature can live without us but we can’t live without nature.

Henry David Thoreau

 

drawing

(from The Diary of Luz Corazzini, Cynthia Korzekwa © )

Related:  The Ingenious Pencils of Henry David Thoreau + Margaret Fuller, American’s first true feminist + When a Poet Tragically Dies: The story of Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson + “Humanity is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller” – Edgar Allan Poe

Bibliography: The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861

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