I can’t believe they kicked us out!

Well, actually, I can. We stayed about an hour after they closed! It turns out that our new “Panaradise” closes at 8pm not 9pm. Whoops.

Before you get bored with my yammering and stop reading, what you need to know is that next month we will be meeting at Shelia’s house! Her address will be in the e-vite.

Confession: I totally forgot to take photos. #photographerfail

Instead, here are some of my favorite quotes from Nature:

“When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet. The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.” (emphasis mine. i read on my phone and have no page numbers, but it’s an essay for crying out loud. find the page yourself. :D)

“Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also the process and the result. All the parts incessantly work into each other’s hands for the profit of man. The wind sows the seed; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapor to the field; the ice, on the other side of the planet, condenses rain on this; the rain feeds the plant; the plant feeds the animal; and thus the endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man.” (again, emphasis mine. he had a habit of using lots of illustrations and then wowing me with a really poetic point at the end of the paragraph. i felt like this read a lot like poetry, actually.)

“Willingly does she follow his steps with the rose and the violet, and bend her lines of grandeur and grace to the decoration of her darling child.” (i have no recollection of what he was talking about, but the visual is stunning.)

“good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed!” (amen.)

“What noble emotions dilate the mortal as he enters into the counsels of the creation, and feels by knowledge the privilege to BE!” (here. here.)

“Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. Certain mechanical changes, a small alteration in our local position apprizes us of a dualism. We are strangely affected by seeing the shore from a moving ship, from a balloon, or through the tints of an unusual sky. The least change in our point of view, gives the whole world a pictorial air. A man who seldom rides, needs only to get into a coach and traverse his own town, to turn the street into a puppet-show. The men, the women, – talking, running, bartering, fighting, – the earnest mechanic, the lounger, the beggar, the boys, the dogs, are unrealized at once, or, at least, wholly detached from all relation to the observer, and seen as apparent, not substantial beings. What new thoughts are suggested by seeing a face of country quite familiar, in the rapid movement of the rail-road car! Nay, the most wonted objects, (make a very slight change in the point of vision,) please us most. In a camera obscura, the butcher’s cart , and the figure of one of our own family amuse us. So a portrait of a well-known face gratifies us. Turn the eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs, and how agreeable is the picture, though you have seen it any time these twenty years!” (great photography advice. 10 points if you know what a camera obscura is without having to look it up :D)

“The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both.” (i think this is actually the origin of the phrase, “beauty is truth, truth is beauty.” agree? disagree?)

“I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.” (fantastic. my favorite quote. hilarious, too.)

“As a plant upon the earth, so a man rests upon the bosom of God; his is nourished by unfailing fountains, and draws, at his need, inexhaustible power. Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man? Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold the absolute natures of justice and truth, and we learn that man has access to the entire mind of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite.” (basically he’s yammering on about nature poetically. i love it. if you don’t like nature or poetry, this might not be the essay for you.)

Walking by Thoreau:

I found so much truth and hilarity in this essay. Yes, it does just sound like an old man yammering on about how much he loves to take walks. BUT I LOVE TAKING WALKS. If you like walking or even the idea of walking, you might like this essay. I sort of went overboard on Emerson quotes, so I’ll spare you here.

Both essays are in the public domain I believe, so there’s no reason not to track them down if you’re intrigued!

Next month is a DEFINITELY going to be a winner. It’s The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. A memoir. Rachel says it’s her all-time favorite book. But you don’t have to take our word for it. (butterfly in the sky… i can go twice as high. you’re welcome.)

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For Pondering as You’re “Walking” through “Nature”…

I hope everyone is ready for this Thursday as we discuss “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau. I’ve put together a few questions to ponder as you “saunter” through these essays so you’re ready to discuss.

Here are a few questions about “Nature” that I found here:

  1. In Emerson’s view, how do adults and children view nature differently?
  2.  How do changing seasons affect nature lovers?
  3. What does Emerson mean when he states, “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit”? Do you agree with him; why or why not?
  4. What, do you think, is the difference between the meaning Emerson finds in nature and the meaning a scientist finds?

Here are a few questions about “Walking” that I fond here:

  1. What does Thoreau mean by the “art of Walking” and “sauntering”?
  2. Thoreau writes: “But possibly the day will come when it will be partitioned off into so-called pleasure grounds, in which a few will take a narrow and exclusive pleasure only,—when fences shall be multiplied, and man traps and other engines invented to confine men to the public road; and walking over the surface of God’s earth, shall be construed to mean trespassing on some gentleman’s grounds. To enjoy a thing exclusively is commonly to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it. Let us improve our opportunities then before the evil days come.”
    Are we living in the “evil days” that Thoreau predicted would come? Why or why not?
  3. Thoreau writes: “Yes; though you may think me perverse, if it were proposed to me to dwell in the neighborhood of the most beautiful garden that ever human art contrived, or else of a dismal swamp, I should certainly decide for the swamp. How vain then have been all your labors, citizens, for me!”
    What choice would you make and why?
  4. How would you describe Henry David Thoreau based upon this essay?

And here are a few that I thought of myself:

  1. Do you enjoy going out for walks? Where is your favorite place to walk and why? Do you prefer walking in an urban environment or out in nature?
  2. The authors of these essays become very philosophical when contemplating nature. Have you ever been out in nature and found your mind wandering in a similar way? What did you think about? For example, when I am out weeding my flower beds, I find myself contemplating sin and holiness. What say you all?
  3. Were these essays anything like you expected?
  4. Overall, what do you think of these Transcendentalists and their writings? Do you enjoy their style? Would you read other works by them or read these again?

As I mentioned above, our next meeting is this Thursday, July 12. We’ll be meeting at 7 pm at the Paradise Bakery and Café at Castleton Mall (please note the location change).

Happy reading (and happy sauntering) to you all!

Emerson & Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau


Here are some fun (and completely random) facts ::

He was born David Henry Thoreau. After college he changed his name to Henry David, but from the reading I’ve done it looks like he never made that change legal.

The house he was born in Wheeler-Minot Farmhouse still stands today, but 100 yards from where it was originally. Moving houses fascinates me. Really, moving. a. building. It’s crazy!

His father was a pencil maker.

His grandfather Asa Dunbar let the first student protest in the US at Harvard University in 1766… over butter of all things. But, personally as a huge fan of butter, I can understand being upset about being served rancid butter. (the Butter Rebellion)

He attended Harvard between 1833 and 1837 but unlike his grandfather he did not take part in a butter rebellion. He did refuse to pay $5 for a (strange, honorary, in my opinion) Masters diploma Harvard would give graduates three years after graduating if they could prove they were alive and had $5 to pay the University.

Pertaining to his appearances, he wore a neck-beard for several years and claimed women liked that. (!!) It sounds like Lousa May Alcott might have set him straight on that disillusion.

He took a leave of absence from school in 1735 from school and took a teaching job, that he quickly left so he wouldn’t have to administer corporal punishment. He and his brother John, a few years later opened a Grammer School where they instituted some new concepts like nature walks (which I’m totally on board with) as well as field trips to local stores and businesses.

After graduating he met Emerson, our other author this month. Emerson was older than Thoreau and took him under his wing. Emerson encouraged Thoreau to write for The Dial, a quarterly periodical. (Nathaniel Hawthorne also wrote for The Dial) He even lived with Emerson from 1841–1844 and was his children’s tutor, assistant editor and gardener.

Much more can be read about his life on wikipedia.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

His formal education began when he was nine. (Wonder what would be different in our society if kids stayed home until they were nine now?)

I think he had the earliest form of GoodReads when he began keeping a list of all the books he read in a series of journals he called “Wide World”

His graduating class at Harvard was only 59 students and he was somewhere in the middle.

In 1826, due to poor health he started traveling south to find a better climate, finally ending in St. Augustine, Florida.

He was very good friends with the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Murat.

He was part of the Transcendental Club as was Thoreau, both writing for its journal previously mentioned, The Dial. It’s reported it was the “most original and thoughtful periodical ever published in this country”. -wow!

More on Emerson here.

I could keep going but there’s just a little to give you a taste of some fun random facts from these guys. Have you read any other works by Emerson or Thoreau? Anything since back in high school when it was required? If I’ve read them before it was in school, and I’ve long since forgotten what works of theirs I’ve read. Hope you’re making great progress on our essays this month and we’ll see you next Thursday! **Remember we are now meeting at the other Paradise! If you didn’t get the evite email me (sarahronk{at}gmail{dot}com) or leave a comment or facebook msg. 

Happy Reading!