On my library visits, I have been making it a point to bring home a book or two of poetry. Poets I know and poets I don’t find their way into my arms as I attempt to broaden my poetic horizons. Most recently, New and Selected Poems, by Mary Oliver, has been sitting at my side. I bookmarked (with a real book mark) The Black Walnut Tree. I’ve read this poem a few times over, thinking about our own trees here on the Cutoff and our walnut harvest last fall.
I was so sorry to hear through Nan’s blog, Letters from a Hill Farm, that Mary Oliver has cancelled all speaking engagements. She has taken ill. As I thumbed through the book this morning, another poem presented itself to me. Poems have a way of doing that, don’t they? They sit and wait until just the right time to introduce themselves. I thought it might be fitting way to honor Mary Oliver by posting it today.
The picture is ours, one of hundreds taken at Walden Pond, but the message I hear from the poem is a simple one. As simple as the idea of Walden. It is wherever you are.
It isn’t very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water
Friends argue that I might be wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!
Many have gone, and think me half a fool
To miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe. But in a book I read and cherish,
Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit. It is the slow and difficult
Trick of living, and finding it where you are.