With roughly three weeks remaining before the scheduled departure from my winter haven here in Key West, and the continuation of my fiction-novel-writing, cross-country road trip, I've still a long list of things yet to accomplish.
Not on the list is reading Waldon, by Henry David Thoreau, but today I made the strategic error of pulling it off the shelf of my mobile library (shelves in the VW love bus) as I was waiting for the coffee to perk. Mistake, or manifest destiny?
I've been trying to read it for years now, but always seem to fall prey to distractions: the mundane routines of life, or allowing myself to become swallowed up by its meaningless minutiae. Yes I have a list of tasks yet to address, but I also have no real schedules to keep, no pressing personal responsibilities or obligations, and answer only to myself these days...so why the hell not read it!
My campsite in the pines, owned by the United States Navy, is no cabin in the woods like the one Thoreau built for himself on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it certainly has a unique charm of its own.
Thoreau's cabin was situated along the shore of Waldon Pond, walking distance from downtown Concord, Massachusettes. My tent is situated along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, walking distance from downtown Cayo Hueso (uh, that's Key West).
"Life in the woods" here, means being surrounded mainly by a gently swaying forest of the deciduous conifer: Taxodium, or Swamp Cypress. The trees produce long-haired needles that continually shed year round, creating a soft, brown carpet over the entire area. One hundred yards north, through the cyprus trees, is the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Ten steps to the south, the campsite borders on a fifty yard wide swamp filled with Mangrove trees, that then opens into the Gulf waters.
The morning after the first night of setting up camp here, and each morning thereafter, I noticed random spots on the ground where the needles appeared to have been arranged in neat, small circles, like something was nesting in the night around my tent. It took me two weeks to discover that the culprits were doves!
I simply loved the sound of their cooing in the trees at night. What I soon learned was that, once I retired for the night, the doves would get up close and personal to the tent, and spin a blanket of needles within which to sleep. Now, I don't know about you, but I find this quite fascinating. Perhaps they experience a greater sense of safety being close to a human being in the dark. At least, this is what I have chosen to believe. I know that it has become a source of comfort to me each night to know they are out there.
Here on Key West Pond, I too have a makeshift nest. The doves spend the evenings in theirs, I find myself spending most of my days in mine. In fact, it is right in this nest that I'm reading Thoreau, and will continue to read Thoreau, until the spirit of Waldon has been woven into the very fabric of my being!
I have secretly wished for a lifetime to be someone like Thoreau: a naturalist, an environmentalist, someone into communing with the natural world, as he did. But in our society today, who can afford the time? Well, I have nothing but time now ~ time to kick back in the ole hammock, time to slowly sip and enjoy hot java, time to absorb Thoreau's words, and all of the natural world around me.
And, just a footnote. Being so blessed with such plush tree to tree carpeting, who needs shoes?
Besides the occasional Nature call, the only other time I might put the book down, is when I feel the urge to go inspect the avocado seed that's been soaking in a cup of water for more than two weeks now. I have high hopes of it eventually becoming a tree, but this will take time. While waiting, I believe I may have stumbled onto what might possibly be a heretofor unknown theorem of Nature:
A watched avocado seed does not germinate!
Well, I have immensely enjoyed this visit, but I really must be getting back to my book. There's only so much reading time available each day before the lights go out for the night, and the doves once again descend along the shores of Key West Pond.