Peg & I both have a fond memory of the writings of Henry David Thoreau — I think that is a function of when we grew up. A lot of the things he said keep popping up in our memory but it’s not like we are avid readers and re-readers of his work.
Living in 2017 as we are, any idea that one has about living a Thoreau-like life is entirely fanciful and idealized. Heck, even though we sold our house and we lived in a 40 foot long RV for 5 years — we were pretty well insulated from Momma Nature. We had heat and hot water and air conditioning and a stove and a sleep number bed … etc., etc., etc..
The quality of place,
the reaction to immediate contact
with earth and growing things
that have a fugal relationship
with mountains and sky,
is essential to the integrity
of our existence on this planet.
Oh, I loved to rhapsodize about the fresh air and the trees but let’s be honest here — living in a modern day RV is still pretty luxurious compared to anything Thoreau had in mind! Or anything that was attainable in his days. Let’s face it, he lived 1817-1863 — heck, he died before the Civil War got up a full head of steam (the US Civil War went from 1861 to 1865).
It’s a good thing to call a spade a spade, to recognize facts and to call out fallacies that are presented as facts. So I don’t want to pretend I’m more of a nature-boy than I am. I love being out in the wilds but lets not kid ourselves. I like my air conditioning, and I really dig refrigerators that keep my food safe, and I’ll take a car over a horse and buggy anyway.
Still, I think Adams hits on something important. While thinking as a photographer he also thought as an ecologist — realizing that we are all dependent upon out home — this grand planet we call Earth.
I’m sure most of you you know what a fugue is.
“a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts.
— Oxford Dictionary
Adams borrowing this musical idea of harmony and counter harmony really fits the way modern folks interact with this planet of ours.
- growing things
In our typical lives few of us have the luxury that Peggy and I enjoyed of spending weeks and months immersed in the forest, or along a river bank. Most of the time we overlook a grand view, and then months go on before we happy to be thrilled by a sunset/sunrise. Time passes once again and maybe we are delighted by the taste of a watermelon, or amazed by a neighbor’s growing garden… before our senses are once again numbed for months on end until we happen to take a business trip and we find ourselves flying OVER the mountains.
Nature for the contemporary resident is often like a fugue. The melody of appreciating earth and all we have here keeps hitting us, but rarely do we have the opportunity to hear all the notes and all the melody at one time. Like a fugue darting in and out of our consciousness, our dependence on this planet is an elusive fact of life.
I have to say that I await January 20 with some trepidation. For the first time in history the proposed Cabinet looks rather like a team of foxes putting on their game uniforms before being let loose in the chicken coop. I hope I’m wrong about that but most of the nominees seem poised to un-do what has taken decades to save, help, or protect. My musical mind anticipates a cacophony (A harsh, discordant clashing of sounds) as the harmony of natural places left to our children, protections for our weak, and policing of those who would do harm appear pen-strokes away from incapacity and decimation.
Still — the music is in my head, and in my heart and in my soul. I want to wish this country well. To do otherwise is foolish. Still, in a day and age when it’s possible to live in such a way as never to experience the joys of nature because we live in insulated homes, with climate controlled air and mechanically produced — everything — we can grow deaf to the fugal influences of nature around us. We commute to our job in a car with the radio blaring. The lobby of the building we work in may have a few plants in it, that are tended by people in uniforms to keep Mother Nature in her place. We can spend all day long in front of computers and holding our meetings paying a lot of attention to what we need, but precious little attention to to what Earth needs.
The poor can’t afford all that isolation and insulation. They are much closer to the elements. To often the rich, when they do venture outside, do so with the newest gear and the greatest protection from the perils of our planet: goggles and insulated clothing and hiking boots and such. They get out there and for a moment they are touched — but not so much that they are willing to consider that their actions jeopardize the ability of us all to enjoy this planet which gives us all life. They return to a consumption based lifestyle with no regard for future generations.
I have no idea what the new administration has in store. Fortunately I’m in good company — it would appear that no one — in this nation or in any other nation — has any idea what to expect from the new President.
But one thing is sure. We’re all in this together.
Thanks for stopping. I’ll be here again tomorrow; why not stop by and say hi!