Tag Archives: henry david thoreau

Have my say @ bbc history revealed

I wrote this letter to ediotor of “BBC History Revealed” during my lunchtime today upon reading an article about the Wild West. A prospect of its publication is beyond the pale, outside the boundary of even the slightest hint of flattering hope and vain wish. Yet, I was egged on by to express my opinion on it as a new frontier-woman in California with the literary advice from Henry David Thoreau and Horace Greeley that the West is where we can start anew because of the Pacific Ocean, a terrestrial version of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness.

Dear Editor:

The article about the Wild West in this month’s issue was particularly interesting, since I am a recent immigrant from the East to the West: the restive nature, the swashbuckling gunslingers, the outrageous outlaws and the ruthless vigilantes were all embroidered on the popular Hollywood-generated image of the West that became something of a  factoid to people living outside the West.

Even though the U.S. Census Bureau declared in 1890 that no more western frontiers were left to conquer, I believe that the culture and ambiance of the West remains here in California. As someone who lived many years in New Jersey and the New York City before moving to Camarillo, the most distinctive characteristic of California is its unsullied beauty of nature in replacement of the skyscraper jungle as I see every day on the commuter’s railways.

Surely, there’s no more John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, or Paul Newman with Robert Redford walking in the streets. Yet, the spirit of eternal youthfulness is still nuanced by a combination of its beautiful rusticity of nature and a diversity of people interacting with the special aura surrounding the land.  For this reason, the West has not lost its charm with its continuous saga of immigrants in search of better future and the timeless beauty of nature.

Pleasure Garden, Emerald Thoughts


        Mary’s Proud Pleasant Garden

What an immaculately beautiful sunny Saturday it is! The sun claims its indomitable superiority alone in the azure sky without the scatterings of clouds with occasional pleasant breezes sent from the nearby Pacific Ocean, or “the Lethe of the Pacific,” according to Henry David Thoreau, who saw the West as Land of Rebirth or Rejuvenation where you could exorcise all your past easterly mishaps and misfortunes by the baptism of water in the Pacific. In the poetic eyes of Thoreau, a Lethean stream flew through the West, and it was imperative we drink it to forget the Old World and its Institutions in order that we could start anew in the West. With this poetic justice rendered by Thoreau in mind, Mary Lamb, a benign spinster and loving aunt of Sally Lamb, couldn’t think of doing anything more pleasant and uplifting than tending to her lovely garden this afternoon.


   Everything grows with love.

Mary is an expert gardener trained in her old family home in New Jersey when she was little. It was her father Ted who inculcated in  her the wonder of nature and the beauty of simplicity. On point of digressive notes, people think that it was Leonardo da Vinci who legitimatized the aphorism of “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” But come to think of it, who would not have arrived at such stratagem of aesthetics throughout our human civilizations? It’s all about the merits of whoever said it. That is, your status weighs against the validity of sayings.  For what’s worth, Mary’s gardening skills and her love of gardening prevails on any such abstruse philosophical musings of influential talking heads just for the sake of its pleasantness.


Homegrown organic vegetables!

Laura Collie, a good neighbor of Mary and trusty confidante, calls on Mary’s to look at her lovely garden in the afternoon. Laura wants to decorate her backyard with flowers and hedges around it, but the whole task of doing it seems daunting because she has so many other businesses to attend to: a wife, a mother, a shopkeeper, and a member of church’s guild for women. Laura thinks that Mary’s spinsterhood imparts freedom from marital obligations to her, which sometimes Laura secretly covets. But then unlike Mary, Laura is always surrounded by her laconic but loyal and understanding husband Paul and their perky and smart daughter Julie at home. Surely, looking at Mary’s gardening makes anyone think about the life itself. It’s a visual exhibition of life with its vicissitudes, with its impositions, and with its obligations, all beautifully embroidered with flowers, plants, and trees.


      The laborer is worthy of the reward.

When Mary finishes her gardening, she invites Laura to have refreshments with her in her proud garden to bask herself in the beauty of the sun and nature in general. It’s also very gratifying to have a glass of cold orange juice or Fanta after laboring on the nature’s work, which Mary regards as a religious experience of being a guardian of nature with the power of appointment by the Creator. Mary, who is also an admirer of Thoreau’s work, understands why Thoreau did not go to church despite being a Christian; it’s because of this feeling of sacred guardianship of nature conferred by the Creator, which can’t be felt by mechanical recitation of prayers without understanding the meanings. Although Mary’s unorthodox views on faith and the church worry religious Laura to a certain degree in a way that makes her unmarried friend look perched precariously on the brink of heathenism like a solitary village cunning woman in Elizabethan England accused of being a witch, Laura admires her spiritual friend’s tenderness toward nature and aesthetic expression of herself through gardening that is all the more resplendent with her erudition from reading many a good book, mostly classics pertaining to previous centuries. While enjoying the carpe diem of the afternoon, both Mary and Laura think in harmony that God is in his heaven, and all’s well with this world.





Walk like Poet Henry David Thoreau!

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Sally, the Thinker

“Give me a box of bonbons and a pouch of fruit candy assorted with gummy worms to sweeten my vapid imaginations! Oh, and a cup of Hazelnut coffee with a little bit of half-and-half to spark up my dormant spirit that resists to awake after a day-off.” Sally was hoping to make a new Monday as vivacious and jovial as possible, so she decided to meet with her lovely alter ego Bonnie for brisk morning sauntering. Yes, sauntering. Or even perambulating, which in fact reminded her of a baby perambulator.

“Hi, Sally!” Bonnie’s euphonious soprano voice manifested her presence like a spirit conjured up by a magician in an esoteric ancient language. Sally saw her dear friend approaching her from a distance waving effervescently at her with genuine smile. ” Oh, Dear. You look a bit pale… Have you eaten well? And please tell me not you are in a diet because you need it not.” Bonnie was concerned about a noticeable difference in Sally’s outward view: she looked thinner than before, and it did not look becoming to Sally. No, it was not out of that cardinal jealousy of womankind that knew neither friendship nor truth. In the eye of Bonnie, Sally looked prettiest with her round cheeks and dimpled elbows.

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“No, I am not on a diet, but I just did not have any appetite… I like walking than eating! Well, let’s call it our “sauntering” as the great poet Henry David Thoreau defined. Do you know Thoreau himself was an aumbulater nascitur non fit? He was an avid walker who used to spend about two hours walking in nature. His study was out of doors like his poet pal William Wordsworth.” “Oh, I did not know it, Sally. I only know that Thoreau was a great naturalist poet and died from consumption. “Yes, Bonnie. That too was right. Soon both adorable ladies were embarking on their ritualistic morning sauntering along the Avenues of trees and flowers with larks and bluetits vivaciously chirping and tweeting, all in nature’s symphony that could make you forgive your foes and love humankind at least for that pristine moment of pleasure.


Bonnie, La Bonne amie

Thoreau was right: the act of sauntering in nature would blot out the strains and cares of contemporary life and anesthetize your weary body and minds against the strains of everyday life. It’s absolute freedom from all worldly engagement. Like Thoreau, Sally thought that sauntering was not an exercise but a kind of enterprise, an adventure of a day that invigorated her spirit and mind. And Sally was hoping that Bonnie would share her pleasure of appreciating the symphony of nature. “You know Thoreau was something of an eccentric genius,” Sally decided to add some tidbit of gossip on the poet. “Oh, really? How so? ” Bonnie seemed intrigued.  “Well, he never went to church but believed in God; did not marry, nor did he cast vote, nor did he pay taxes! But this very individuality endowed him with a crown of literary ascendancy, I think.” “How could he not pay his due taxes as it’s his sacrosanct duty and responsibility as a citizen? You know what, Sally? That’s why I do not like any of these intellectuals who put ideas before their civic duties and personal responsibilities.”

Bonnie’s truculent remark was a bit startling aberration of her usual diplomatic modus operandi of expressing her opinion. But come to think of it, she couldn’t agree more with her friend about the duplicity of so-called the intellectuals, the new ecclesiastical estate of our modern society. And Sally was inwardly glad to have a friend as thoughtful and truthful as Bonnie. But still, Sally wanted to spare Thoreau from the supercilious learned elites.


The ante meridian sun was suavely sunny in the fiercely blue sky that would remind you of the celestial garb of the Virgin Mary in Rembrandt’s paintings.  The Italians would call the color “azure,” and they were good at making the pigment for Renaissance painters who raved about its lucidity and vivacity of the exquisite hue. And the fragrant breeze was a blessing of the beautiful Titan-goddess Aura for their friendship bound by mutual understanding and love of history and literature. As the two good friends were continuing to enjoy their sauntering in nature, it seemed right that without even going to church on Sundays, you could find the evidence of the Creator in awe of nature’s beauty and feel the presence of the existence just as Thoreau and the late Pope John Paul Second had felt and expressed.