Walt Whitman wrote–
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder
or pity or love or dread, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of
the day…or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
I snowshoed west across the field Saturday. The air was crisp. The sky, a vivid blue. The snow fog that had blanketed the landscape at dawn had dispersed leaving the trees, shrubs and grasses dressed in brilliant crystals.
My fingers burned with cold as I pulled out my camera and framed the snowscapes.
There are some who revel in seascapes; others in desert landscapes. I have sat long hours with Monet’s pond lilies. I have traveled west with Lewis and Clark. I have embraced Rainy Mountain through N. Scott Momaday’s prose; studied the architecture of Belgium’s Antwerp Centraal Station with W.G. Sebald. I have skated under the Northern Lights alongside Sigurd F. Olson; descended through the deep snows of winter into the newness of March with Kentucky poet Wendell Berry; canoed the Concord and Merrimack Rivers with Henry David Thoreau; contemplated the power of man’s creativity through the eyes of Loren Eiseley; considered form with Mary Oliver. I have viewed the universe among the bookshelves of Borges’ Library of Babel.
Each of these experiences has become part of me. I carry them with me as vividly as memories of my childhood. I carry them with me each day as I step out into the world and view new wonders — frost on a singular branch; sharp-tail grouse sheltering beneath hawthorns; a solitary elm tree leaning, stretching, beckoning to the east; a coyote crossing frozen fields; nannyberries encased in hoarfrost; box elder seeds waiting patiently for spring; a rough legged hawk taking flight.
It is with me as it was with Whitman in Leaves of Grass —
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who
now goes and will always go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses them now.
Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass, the Original 1855 Edition, 106, 108. New York: Dover Publications, 2007.
Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 1969.
DeVoto, Bernard. Lewis and Clark Expedition. New York: Mariner Books, 1997.
Sebald, W. G. Austerlitz, 5-12. New York: Modern Library, 2001.
Olson, Sigurd F. The Singing Wilderness,183-187. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
Berry, Wendell. The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry: 1957-1982, 206. New York: North Point Press, 1984.
Thoreau, Henry David. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1985.
Eiseley, Loren. Collected Essays on Evolution, Nature, and the Cosmos, Vols. 1-2. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2016.
Oliver, Mary. Upstream: Selected Essays, 20. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.
Borges, Jorge Luis. “Library of Babel.” Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley, 112-118. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.