Tag Archives: Nebraska

Listening to trains (Walden 81)

We’ve already learned that we don’t ride upon the railroad, it rides upon us. Today, as part of the “Sounds” chapter, Thoreau talks about hearing the train passing by. One arm of Walden Pond was cut off by a railroad embankment, so the tracks weren’t far away.

“The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk sailing over some farmer’s yard, informing me that many restless city merchants are arriving within the circle of the town, or adventurous country traders from the other side. As they come under one horizon, they shout their warning to get off the track to the other, heard sometimes through the circles of two towns. Here come your groceries, country; your rations, countrymen! Nor is there any man so independent on his farm that he can say them nay. And here’s your pay for them! screams the countryman’s whistle; timber like long battering-rams going twenty miles an hour against the city’s walls, and chairs enough to seat all the weary and heavy-laden that dwell within them. With such huge and lumbering civility the country hands a chair to the city. All the Indian huckleberry hills are stripped, all the cranberry meadows are raked into the city. Up comes the cotton, down goes the woven cloth; up comes the silk, down goes the woollen; up come the books, but down goes the wit that writes them.” Continue reading


Epic tales of mosquitoes (Walden 53)

“Morning brings back the heroic ages. I was as much affected by the faint hum of a mosquito making its invisible and unimaginable tour through my apartment at earliest dawn, when I was sitting with door and windows open, as I could be by any trumpet that ever sang of fame. It was Homer’s requiem; itself an Iliad and Odyssey in the air, singing its own wrath and wanderings. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Where I lived and What I Lived For,” Walden Continue reading

Every morning was a cheerful invitation (Walden 52)

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”

— Henry David Thoreau, “Where I lived and What I Lived For,” Walden

Great Blue Heron, Conestoga Lake, Nebraska, early morning.

Great Blue Heron, Conestoga Lake, Nebraska, early morning.

(About  “A Year in Walden”)

Count the turtles

Holmes Lake, Lincoln, Nebraska, April 20, 2014

Holmes Lake, Lincoln, Nebraska, April 20, 2014

Spring is here, at least where I live. I drifted in my kayak closer and closer to these turtles but they didn’t move, even when I was practically on top of them.

Do yourself a favor and get outdoors. There’s so much going on this time of year, but you have to get out there and look for it. It’s amazing how much fun you can have at a city park with an inflatable kayak and a point-and-shoot camera.

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On Middle Creek, moving slow

Middle Creek photo

Middle Creek, above Pawnee Lake, Nebraska, June 1, 2013.

Reach ahead gently with the paddle and draw it back slowly, a good long stroke, and you’ll keep the kayak moving with very little noise. Just a steady dip, dip, dip of the paddle blades, and the boat itself glides silently across the still water. Continue reading

Tallgrass: where we became ourselves

prairie at Oak Valley WMA, Nebraska

Tallgrass prairie at Oak Valley Wildlife Management Area, near Battle Creek, Nebraska.

In an earlier post I talked a little about the importance of getting to know the land where you live. Today I want to say just a bit about the region where I happen to live, the prairie states of the central US. Continue reading

The Web versus “the remembered earth”

cottonwood tree

One of the big cottonwood trees beside the Elkhorn River at Yellowbanks Wildlife Management Area, near Battle Creek, Nebraska…

“Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to its sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures that are there and all the faintest motions in the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.”
—N. Scott Momaday, “The Man Made of Words”

I enjoy blogging, and I love the web, but I want to talk about a few of its downsides before getting back to this quote. I have three things in mind. Each is both a strength and a weakness of the web: Continue reading