drafty mountain hut

always at home, forever on the way

Month: April, 2013

30 April 1851

by layman k

What is a chamber to which the sun does not rise in the morning? What is a chamber to which the sun does not set at evening? Such are often the chambers of the mind, for the most part.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

29 April 1860

by layman k

I listen to a concert of red-wings, — their rich sprayey notes, amid which a few more liquid and deep in a lower tone or undertone, as if it bubbled up from the very water beneath the button-bushes; as if those singers sat lower. Some old and skillful performer touches these deep and liquid notes, and the rest seem to get up a concert just to encourage him. Yet it is ever a prelude or essay with him, as are all good things, and the melody he is capable of and which we did not hear this time is what we remember. The future will draw him out. The different individuals sit singing and pluming themselves and not appearing to have any conversation with one another. They are only tuning all at once; they never seriously perform; the hour has not arrived. Then all go off with a hurried and perhaps alarmed tchuck tchuck.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

sunday poesy

by layman k

Cold Mountain Poems
– Han Shan

VII

I sit beneath the cliff, quiet and alone.
Round moon in the middle of the sky’s a bird ablaze:
all things are seen mere shadows in its brilliance,
that single wheel of perfect light …
Alone, its spirit naturally comes clear.
Swallowed in emptiness in this cave of darkest mystery,
because of the finger pointing, I saw the moon.
That moon became the pivot of my my heart.

(from Cold Mountain Poems, translated by J.P. Seaton)

27 April 1859

by layman k

Walk along Swampscott Beach from Red Rock northeast. The beach is strewn with beautifully colored purple and whitish algve just left by the tide. Hear and see the seringo in fields next the shore. No noticeable yellow shoulder, pure whitish beneath, dashed throat and a dark-brown line of dashes along the sides of the body.

Struck inland and passed over the west end of High Rock, through the cemetery, and over Pine Hill, where I heard a strange warbler, methought, a dark-colored, perhaps reddish-headed bird. Thence through East Saugus and Saugus to Cliftondale, I think in the southern part of Saugus.

The little brown snake with the light line along the back just killed in the road.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

One of the pillars upon which civilization is built

by layman k

The Home Garden


Inside the gate there is a footpath, and the footpath must be winding. At the turn of the footpath there is an outdoor screen, and the screen must be small. Behind the screen there is a terrace, and the terrace must be level. On the banks of the terrace there are flowers, and the flowers must be bright-colored. Beyond the terrace there is a wall and the wall must be low. By the side of the wall is a pine tree, and the pine tree must be old.  At the foot of the pine there are rocks, and the rocks must be quaint.  Over the rocks there is a pavilion, and the pavilion must be simple. Beyond the pavilion are bamboos, and the bamboos must be sparse. At the end of the bamboos there is a house, and the house must be secluded. By the side of the house is a road, and the road must branch off.  Where several branches come together is a bridge, and the bridge must be tantalizing to cross.  At the end of the bridge there are trees, and the trees must be tall.  In the shade of the trees there is grass, and the grass must be green.  Above the grass plot is a ditch, and the ditch must be slender.  At the top of the ditch is a spring, and the spring must gurgle.  Above the spring there is a hill, and the hill must be undulating.  Below the hill is a hall, and the hall must be square.  At the corner of the hill there is a vegetable garden, and the garden must be big.  In the garden is a stork, and the stork must dance. The stork announces that there is a guest, and the guest must not be vulgar.  When the guest arrives he is offered wine, and the wine must not be declined.  At the drink the guest must get drunk, and the drunken guest must not want to go home.”

– Chen Chiju, quoted in Barry Hughart’s The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox

25 April 1858

by layman k

Approaching the Island, I hear the phe phe, phe phe, phe phe, phe phe, phe, the sharp whistling note, of a fish hawk, and, looking round, see him just afterward launching away from one of the swamp white oaks southwest of the Island. There is about half a second between each note, and he utters them either while perched or while flying. He shows a great proportion of wing and some white on back. The wings are much curved. He sails along some eighty feet above the water’s edge, looking for fish, and alights again quite near. I see him an hour afterward about the same spot .

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

24 April 1857

by layman k

He who requires fair weather puts off his enterprises and resumes them in his mind many times in the forenoon, as the clouds fall lower and sprinkle the fields, or lift higher and show light streaks. He goes half a mile and is over taken by thick sprinkling drops, falling faster and faster. He pauses and says to himself, this may be merely a shower, which will soon be over, or it may come to a steady rain and last all day. He goes a few steps further, thinking over the condition of a wet man, and then returns. Again it holds up and he regrets that he had not persevered; but the next hour it is stiller and darker, with mist beneath the investing cloud, and then commences a gentle, deliberate rain, which will probably last all day . So he puts on patience and the house.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

23 April 1856

by layman k

Hear the yellow redpoll sing on the maples below Dove Rock, — a peculiar though not very interesting strain, or jingle.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

22 April 1855

by layman k

Tree sparrows still. See a song sparrow getting its breakfast in the water on the meadow like a wader. Red maple yesterday, — an early one by further stone bridge. Balm-of-Gilead probably to-morrow. The black currant is just begun to expand leaf — probably  yesterday elsewhere – a little earlier than the red. Though my hands are cold this morning I have not worn gloves for a few mornings past, — a week or ten days. The grass is now become rapidly green by the sides of the road, promising dandelions and buttercups.

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau

sunday poesy

by layman k

Mountain Living: Twenty Poems
by Han-shan Te-ch’ing

I

Down beneath the pines,
a few thatched huts.
Before my eyes,
everywhere blue mountains,
and where the sun and moon
restless rise and fall,
this old white cloud
idly comes and goes.

(translated by James Cryer in The Shambhala Anthology of Chinese Poetry edited by J.P Seaton)