Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thoreau for Toddlers

It's been awhile since Wyatt was a tiny tot, strapped to my back as we hiked the woods around Walden Pond. I'm sure it's going to be one of those non-memories for him captured in never enough pictures; a trip we can, as parents, throw in his face when he becomes a teenager, listening to loud music and acting in ways that imply we didn't love him enough. "But what about the time we took you to Walden Pond, dear?" And then we'll have to pull out the pictures because he won't remember.  When he reads Walden and expresses an interest in the ideas as well as the place, maybe even suggests we take a family trip, we'll smugly remind him that he was already there. "Don't you remember?"

What I remember of that day was the unseasonable warmth, the verde stone quality of the water....and the bugs. Millions of flying ants had hatched on that day and hung thick in the air.  We literally parted them like a living curtain as we hiked.

Among other strange phenomenon were the fraternity brothers (oddly skinny and awkward) hiking the trail in the opposite direction.  Greek letters across their chest, one of them on his cell phone: "...yeah, this guy just lived out here and shit..."  Also, the guy working in the gift shop was a brooding thirty-something in a Steeler's jersey. I remember thinking that even God is likely a Steeler's fan. After some conversation we found out the giftshop clerk was a Thoreau impersonator (imagine Thoreau after a bad romance with the Industrial music scene), and a native of Highland Square. Yes. Akron. It felt somehow scandalous that I came all this way just rub elbows with my evil twin.

We bought a few things, among them this book.

The book is still a little too long for Wyatt, but I've read it at him a few times; at first he was content to look at the nice illustrations of Thoreau in motley looking ponderous stroking his patchwork beard amid a city full of smokestacks and bustling individuals. By the time Henry begins building his own little house, Wyatt is out of my lap running his cars over the furniture. I tell myself that one day soon enough he will react with indignation at Mayor Fogg's scheme to build a toothpick factory next to Walden Pond. For now I'm pretty sure he doesn't even know what a toothpick is, much less have an opinion on them.  Until then, I'll continue to read the books he insists upon: a horrible Thomas the Tank Engine that I'm planning to hide in the closet, the How does a Dinosaur...? series, and, when I'm feeling poetical, Lewis Carroll's nonsense.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Of course God is a Steelers fan. That's basic stuff, Skarl.