Friday, October 9, 2020

Camping and Reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essay "Nature"

"Autumn -- On the Hudson River, Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)
In the evening the deer enter the campground, browsing in the fading sunlight. The leaves are turning yellow and gold, and the air cools quickly as the sun lowers. I'm happy to be camping again at Rathbun Lake, back again two weeks after my last "staycation," this time at Honey Creek State Park. 

I started my stay here by tuning in to the Vice Presidential debate but am now honestly glad to pivot back to my camping trip. I suppose one of the downsides of having 3-4 bars of cellphone signal strength is that it takes a bit longer to unhook!

I have a plan, though, and I provided myself with a "disengagement aid" by reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Nature" yesterday. I first read this essay--can it be possible?--coming up in a few years on a half a century ago, while taking an American Transcendentalism literature class in college. I'm glad I've read it again, as I have a few times over the years. 

Emerson tells us that the universe is a unified wholeness, and that we have the capacity to consciously experience and live that wholeness. As I enjoy the beautiful fall weather, or as Emerson calls it, the "Indian Summer," I'm reminded that to be a human being is a special thing, and that we should as Superman's biological father tells him, only use our gifts for good.

I've written a personal reaction to Emerson's essay "Nature" and published it on my writing blog, Tom Kepler Writing. As always, I find myself uplifted by the inspiring words of American naturalists, Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir among them. If we could be "rapt away" into the fullness of nature, Emerson says, "the upper sky would be all that would remain of our furniture." He writes that nature can transform us, heal us; even while listening to the "crackling and spurting of hemlock in the flames" of the fireplace and gazing at the patterned grain of the wood-paneled walls while in our homes, we can see "the music and pictures of the most ancient religion." 

Honey Creek State Park

As I write, the third annual "gathering of the Bears," the Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers reunion is taking place at Harrison Bay State Park in Tennessee. Although, I am not there, I wish all my camping friends health and happiness. Being in nature certainly helps. 

Here is the link to my article: "Reading Emerson's Essay 'Nature' While Camping." Enjoy!

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