Sunday Gratitude – Whimsy
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I got into some great colleges a long time ago partially because of a college essay I based on Walden’s spare writing style. Living in the woods seemed the best thing ever…but the reality is never quite like that, is it? A New Yorker article from 2015 burst the Thoreau bubble a bit for me–we never would have been friends, he and I. It turns out that I cannot live without “whimsy” and that is my gratitude for today.
In 1911, Mabel Ward of Andover visited Stonehenge, fell in love with the stones, and decided to put “Solstice Stones” in her backyard on top of Holt Hill. The stones line up to the sunrise on the first day of each season. On a visit there this Friday, we were nowhere close to sunrise (teenagers, hello) so we’ll have to believe that story. The good thing about doing anything in 1911 is that there was no mass outcry about her putting stones up on the hill from which the colonials watched the Brits burn Charlestown in 1775. That would never fly in Weston. Of course, it was her private land in 1911, which she donated in 1940 and is now a part of the Trustees properties. Whimsy again? Deliberate planning? Let’s go with whimsy.
Whimsy can be found in the woods–those who hike the Weston trails will sometimes be lucky enough to find the whimsy of the Weston Forest & Trail Association trails manager. Tree cookies, slices of downed trees, left in a pile, or balanced around a stump, or even, once, I was lucky to see them on a log in a brook. She leaves them for the joy of children in the woods–and in spite of Conservation’s leave nothing, take nothing philosophy, those tree cookies are a whimsical gift to those who find them.
And today, it’s spring which is a gift in itself, one can find some of Mother Nature’s whimsy. Crocuses planted in one place come up in another. Chipmunks? Maybe. Fell out of the bag of bulbs and took root? Maybe. In any case, I now prefer Mary Oliver to Henry David Thoreau, though I am grateful to both for a love of the outdoors.
“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
― Mary Oliver, Wild Geese