Monday, October 08, 2007

bluebird book boston brook

The students in Professor Mooney's Environmental Ethics class are reading The Path, so she invited me to join the students for a walk along the path. Now that I am not teaching, I leap at any chance to be with students. They are beautiful, young and smart, with their whole lives in front of them. I breathe in their innocence like fresh air.

Can you tell what the book is about from Amazon's "concordance," a computer-compiled list of the 100 most frequently used words?

across along america american ames animals another away birds bluebird book boston brook called century children complexity course day down early earth easton energy england estate even family few fields first forests gardens generation great ground history home house human ice know land landscape law leaves life long may meadow might million monarch natural nature new nitrogen north now oliver olmsted own park part pasture path perhaps place planet plants pond queset see sheep shovel something species spring stars stone stream street sun take things time today town trees two universe upon village water white wild woods work world years

Scott Russell Sanders has an essay in The Force of Spirit that recounts, among other things, the death of his wife's mother after years of Alzheimer's. He writes: "On page after page in a spiral notebook she wrote down in broken phrases what mattered to her, what defined her life, as if words on paper might preserve what the mind no longer could hold." And then Scott summarizes the essay with his own very brief list of words.

Even Amazon's "concordance" is unnecessarily long to summarize my forty-three years along the Path. How about an abridged version:

Day down early earth.
Few fields, first forests,
Great ground history.
Home. Landscape.
Pasture path, plants, pond,
Stars, stone, sun.
Take things time today:
Village water, wild woods,
Work, world, years.