The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861

I’ve sipped at the words, squeezed the covers, and taken delightful strolls through this book for nearly a year now. After it arrived in my post office box, I hied myself to read the first of its pages in the Yerba Buena gardens, a meager attempt at mimicking nature, but the best I could muster. It accompanied me on many outings thereafter, to be gobbled at in the shade of a tree in the community garden, on a plane ride to NYC, getting weathered on the road trip from Vegas to Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon. A few days after we witnessed the gossamer threads of spiders flooding a field near Bryce Canyon at sunset, I read Thoreau’s musings on the same phenomenon, and I was reading his passages about snowflakes while a storm swirled around us as we camped on the edge of the Grand Canyon, nearly trapped by snow. It feels like a dear friend, the 600+ page beast, expertly abridged to preserve the spirit while cutting 90% of the complete text.
Journal entries are perfect for the type of consuming I would do in short bursts. This book contains too much gold for me to dog-ear pages that caught my eye, so I employed the pen, an occasional underline but mostly lines in the margins, sometimes with notes. To quote them here would be an enormous undertaking, and would result in an abridgment of the abridged. I look forward to being able to take this friend down from time to time and scan for a mark of interest I’ve left. “Will it not be employment enough to watch the progress of the seasons?” and “It is time now that I begin to live” are early markings.

My Journal is that of me which would else spill over and run to waste, gleanings from the field which in action I reap. I must not live for it, but in it for the gods. As if it were not kept shut in my desk, but were as public a leaf as any in nature. It is papyrus by the riverside; it is vellum in the pastures; it is parchment on the hills.