Wednesday, December 31, 2014

John Burroughs' Books...and Slabsides

Our Ancient Man of American Nature

Many years ago, I was introduced to John Burroughs, while listening to my mother and grandfather talking about the great American naturalist.  I didn't realize until some time later that Burroughs, who was well-known and regarded, lived not far from where I grew up.  Burroughs lived in (or near) the town of Esopus, NY.  Over the years, I read some of Burroughs' nature writings, but never got through them all.  When I first started putting this blog together, I included these photos below.  This was more than a year ago, and at the time I didn't realize what the connection to Walt Whitman was, but I've since learned the Burroughs wrote a work about Whitman, which is found in Burroughs' collected works.  I made this discovery when visiting O.U.R. Bookstore in Saugerties, and saw the collected works on the shelf, and the volume on Whitman.  A few days ago (the day after Christmas), I went for a hike near Bear Mountain, NY, and discovered that the zoo near the great Bear Mountain Inn, has a majestic statue of a "walking Whitman" in the woods of the zoo.  This all made me think of the connections between Whitman and Burroughs, and about the exaltation of nature by the poets and naturalists of the day--including these men, but also JW Powell and John Muir out west.  The day, more than a year ago, when I visited Burroughs' home Slabsides near Esopus, it was cold and the roads were muddy.  I went to see his cabin, and walked around the woods.  My mother had told me of visiting the home years before, and attending an event where Burroughs' granddaughter was present.  I know that she'd written a book called "John Burroughs' Granddaughter" by Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley, but I've not yet read it.  Unlike Walden, this lesser known natural hide-away has not been developed, or turned into a highly visited public retreat.  But that may be welcoming to the John Burroughs' fan and seeker of a quiet respite in the woods.

Walden: Books and Thoreau

Walden...Some Years Ago

So good readers, as you see with my last post, I'm "quite behind."  At least three years ago, I started this entry, and never got further than uploading photos of a trip I took to Walden Pond.  If my memory is correct, this was a trip I took to visit my brother in 2012 or thereabouts.  It may have been earlier than that, but I don't know.  In any case, my distinct recollection of Walden was that it was quite different from the Walden of Thoreau's age:  it had lots of paths, a beach, and scores of families enjoying the locale.  It was not a wilderness.  Rather, it was more of a "busy park" near Boston.  It's amazing how the passage of time and the gradual settling of locations can and does turn a place from an uninhabited forest into a city!  Well, a big town, at least.  It was a good day for a walk in any event.  If you're in the area, go visit Henry David's old stomping grounds.  You might get a feeling of communion with the natural world.

Books at a Tibetan Monastery: Library and Shop

Another Photo-Essay

Greetings Biblio-Readers!  I've been on a long break from this blog, but as we are approaching 2015, I thought it would be good to post at least ONE piece for the blog in 2014.  Indeed, I think it's been more than a year and a half.  I hope that in the coming year, I will post more often, and begin the biblio-adventures once again.  There are, in fact, many different places I'd like to share.  Below, I want to show some images I took more than a year ago, in Woodstock, NY.  I'd visited this site several times, and found a very good book shop dedicated to Buddhist and Tibetan historical materials.  The first time I visited the KTD community was some twenty years ago.  At that time, there were only a few buildings, old homes that had living rooms used (or converted into) for meditation spaces.  In the years since that first visit, when I sat in a room with half a dozen people meditating and a prayer leader, chanting some ancient text, the community has grown, and several larger buildings in the compound have been built.  The community is much larger and more developed, and hosts a number of retreats.  For those interested, please visit Woodstock and check out the riches it has to offer.