Friday, June 01, 2012

"Each season is but an infinitesimal point," or, Reading Thoreau for my birthday

The briefest of posts today, for it's my birthday and I mean to do little but play the piano and read while watching the sparrows squabble with the squirrels over windowsill seeds. As usual on my birthday since NYRB Classics published Damion Searls's magnificent edition of Thoreau's Journals, I've turned to that book to keep me company today--a day that resembles one in June of 1857 that Thoreau described as a "mizzling and rainy day . . . a drizzling rain, or 'drisk,' as one called it."

I particularly like the entry for June 6 of that year, when Thoreau was just a couple of years older than I am. In it he expresses what I've always loved most about June, and about having a birthday that opens the month: it's a time of beginnings, the time when, most years, summer finally starts to feel truly imminent.
This is June, the month of grass and leaves. The deciduous trees are investing the evergreens and revealing how dark they are. Already the aspens are trembling again, and a new summer is offered me. I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late. Each season is but an infinitesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone. It has no duration. It simply gives a tone and hue to my thought. Each annual phenomenon is a reminiscence and prompting. Our thoughts and sentiments answer to the revolutions of the seasons, as two cog-wheels fit into each other. We are conversant with only one point of contact at a time, from which we receive a prompting and impulse and instantly pass to a new season or point of contact. A year is made up of a certain series and number of sensations and thoughts which have their language in nature.
And with that, back to books and birds. Enjoy the weekend, folks.

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