Friday, December 7, 2012

In the Quiet Part of the Day

"I am aware of the fineness of the texture of the 
scene as I move quietly across the landscape..."

By Patrick J. Walsh

In the morning, the park is quiet. And I am quiet as I walk.

The air is cool, but warming as the day moves forward. The Sun shines with a gauzy benevolence.

There is a stolid indifference to the trees. Not unkind or unwelcoming, they are nonetheless in no particular need of human interaction or indulgence to propagate the quiet dignity they have maintained during the many decades they have stood here in the park.

© Patrick J. Walsh
...there is much that is instructive in 
that part of the day that speaks least...
There are birds in the park this morning; the occasional silent shadow in the sky attests to their presence. But they are more quiet than usual. The chill air is for the most part absent of their normal chatter.

Any slight evidence of movement in the air resonates well within the delicate balance of the morning rays and the chill of the season. The wind is but a breeze, and the shrill of the recent harsh weather echoes only in memory.

Gliding across the otherwise placid surface of the pond, a few Canada geese (their proper name, although I freely admit to having always known them as “Canadian” geese from the time of my formative years) seem content in their noiseless idyll.

At this time of year the park is probably a rest stop for the geese as they make their way along the path of their biannual migration. Those who migrate earlier in the chilly season tend to move more quickly through the trip, while geese such as these, taking wing later and thus more exposed to the vagaries of the oncoming winter, spend more time at rest along the way.

The thought of their lingering at this quiet stop along their way is cheering to me as I walk past the edge of the pond.

I am quiet, but not idle. Each step seems somehow more distinct, more clearly measured, than the languid strides of summer. And I am aware of the fineness of the texture of the scene as I move quietly across the landscape of which I presume to be a part, as the morning passes and the day unfolds.

The experience recalls in me some intimation of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; particularly that section that the great essayist called “Sounds,” in which he wrote of “the language which all things and events speak without metaphor, which alone is copious and standard.”

That language of experience seems the only communication of this particular morning, and in its embrace I am gradually aware that there is much that is instructive in a walk in the park in that part of the day that speaks least to the human ear.

It is the quiet that bespeaks the vastness of the experience. Again deferring to Thoreau:

         “…my life itself was become my amusement and never ceased to be novel. It was a dream of many scenes and without an end… Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.”

And it is as well in the movement from idle observance to the awareness of one’s encounter with the greater world that moves us forward, as surely as Thoreau found his place in life by abandoning his place in the society of the 1850s:

         What is a course of history or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen?  Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer?  Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.”

This morning, the park is quiet. And I am quiet as I walk.

© Patrick J. Walsh


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