INTERVIEW WITH A WOODCHUCK
Yeah, I knew him.
We were neighbors those few years he lived in a cabin by the pond.
(Always wondered how he got a building permit.)
Kept to himself mostly.
Walked a lot hereabouts, day and night, rain or shine.
But he’d also sometimes sit for hours stretched out in his doorway.
Thinking? Dreaming? Working on his tan? Your guess is as good as mine.
And what a tree hugger! Seen it myself, numerous times. Maple, oak,
sycamore--made absolutely no difference to him. Loved birds, fish, and
bugs, too. Okay, none of my business. It takes all kinds.
What can I add…? Very tidy, didn’t throw wild parties, was big into
recycling. Played the flute, recited Homer, sang as he hoed in his
So imagine my surprise when he killed and ate my brother.
Sure, he was arrested and held overnight, but he was released without a
hearing, and that, come to find out, was for another completely
(Shoulda known it was nuts to hope for justice.)
That’s all I got.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
1817 - 1862.
Author, historian, and philosopher.
Naturalist, abolitionist, and social reformer.
Leech, deadbeat, and anarchist?
Wrote Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
Friend of Emerson, Hawthorne, and the Alcott’s.
Hero to grassrooters and rebooters, right and left.
Inspired Tolstoy, Proust, and Hemingway.
In the 1960’s, the late, great Walter Harding published a benchmark
biography of Thoreau, which, I confess, I’ve consulted frequently in
writing this my own wannabe work. Harding lamented that the “man on
the street” back then knew only that Thoreau had lived at Walden Pond
and spent some time in jail. I doubt that many on my street now, man or
woman, know that much! Yours either.
My own unscientific survey suggests that most people today remember
Thoreau for one truly t-shirtable quote, even if some don’t remember
it was he who said it:
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is
because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he
hears, however measured or far away.”
(I’ll take an X-large in teal, please!)
But all that changes now.
I propose to write an ode to reflection. My theme: Who was Henry David
Thoreau and why should anybody still give a damn? Part American Lit,
part retrofit! And since I consider myself more anybody than anybody,
there’ll be plenty of me thrown in, too, just to keep things
PLEASE HOLD ALL APPLAUSE UNTIL THE END
“I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else
whom I knew as well.”
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden
From Fronting Onlys: My 2-1/2 Cents Worth of Henry David Thoreau (as
adjusted for inflation, taxes, and mishandling fees) by Tom Beattie.
Published by whatdoesitprofit press, LLC. Copyright (c) 2017. All rights
Excerpted from "Fronting Onlys" by Tom Beattie. Copyright © 2017 by Tom Beattie. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.