April in Maine
The flowers and trees have just started blooming, and it rains a lot. When it is sunny though, the temperature fluctuates between 40 and 70 degrees. On warmer days, anyone not in class can be found outside reading, biking, hiking, climbing trees, and then jumping from them. One of the trees has a rope swing jump that has to be at least 14 feet up. I’ve done it three times, and it’s still really scary. Today we opened up the dock. I was in the library writing this post as the sun set, so I checked out a camera and slipped out of my flip flops to run down to the dock.
This past weekend I went canoeing with COASTAL, College of the Atlantic’s outdoor program. We have a small cabin on campus with helpful equipment like tents, dry bags, and sleeping bags, so after packing up Friday night, we set off for adventure early Saturday morning. Although this was a trip for beginners, the winds stirred up 3-4 foot waves, and I struggled constantly to maintain any sort of direction. Our leaders were great though, and despite the cloudy windy cool days, we had a blast.
Highlights for me—skinny-dipping in the starlight (the smooth lake reflected the light of the stars so jumping in was surreal); listening to life dreams around the fire while warming up after the cold plunge; sleeping in a tent with my friends Annie, Andrea, and Bethany; waking up around 4am to the sound of coyotes and wolves howling in the distance and knowing that I had to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag to pee, although I only had to go 20 feet from my tent, I felt very vulnerable in the dark; the challenge getting back with the . Whew.
“Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature…”
I signed up for the trip sure that if I spent Saturday and Sunday outside, I would be more content to spend more time in class and working at the library. I thought the trip would help me focus. But in case you do not already know this, that is not how it works. Once exposed to the raw beauty of nature, it’s difficult to return to artificial temperature and lights.
“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.”
I need to go back. Soon. Until then, this view from campus will have to do:
Thoreau dedicates the second chapter of Walden to “Where I Lived, and What I Lived for.” Wow. How powerful is that chapter line? I’m trying to figure out where I live (besides in my head), and what I live for (besides love, or is that enough?). My class “Great Letters” is forcing me to collect my thoughts. We read letters from authors and notable figures, write our own, and read them out loud to the class. They are personal, but maybe I will share one sometime soon.
My teacher, Candice Stover, tries to cultivate more face-to-face interactions, and refuses to do e-mail. If we want to reach her, we have to call her at home before 10pm, and she promises she’ll call us back. We talk a lot about communication, and what we lose (and gain) with e-mail, facebook, the Internet and cell phones. More on this another time, I’m sure… She seems very skeptical about online privacy. Why do I post little journal entries for anyone in the world to read? Because I know that my life is important and beautiful, and I love my life and want to share it with everyone. But it’s more than that… it’s personal. Writing on here reminds me of the story I write every day with every conversation, feeling, and decision that I make.
Other stuff I’ve been thinking about recently:
— No one can own land. The land, and all it’s fruits and vegetables and wild creatures belong to all of us, and us (humans) belong to all of them. We don’t get to do whatever we want. How is this idea of owning land anything more than a faith-based ideology, kind of like money and our economy? Ah, so many thoughts that require much more explaining. The other night when my friend asked me how our economy law is different than religion, the only response I could think of is that people who believe in God and Jesus recognize very openly that it requires faith, unlike our economy and law, which people take for truth. Can we ever really own anything except our love and time and story?
— I have to choose my companions wisely, because they do rub off on me. I am blessed with wonderful friends, and often I see myself in them, and them in me. And now I want nature to be my friend. I need some of the simplicity and innocence to rub off on me, but what can I bring to the relationship? Only my life, devotion, and awe.
— I do not want to let time or my things own me. I try to do things intentionally and I avoid rushing. But never have I been more sure that I cannot do anything that will have me counting down the minutes. I wasted enough time in school (before COA) for a lifetime.
— I can talk to animals, and they can talk to me, and sometimes we can become friends, but they are kind of like people: each one is different and has a different personality, so I don’t think all of them want to be my friend. I’ve been reading up on this, and before you ask, no I don’t think I’m crazy.
— The economy. Wealth. What we value, and don’t value, and how ridiculous it all is.
— When I don’t write it usually means I’m learning or living too much to write it down. I also don’t have internet anymore. I can’t say I miss it that much. I think there will be a big movement beginning soon (if it hasn’t already started) away from technology and the instant information and (sometimes superficial) connection it brings. I want to slow time down, not speed up, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.
All quotes for this entry are from Henry David Thoreau.