Plain Pleasures, Kindly and Native

Ralph Waldo Emerson walked his neighborhood woods in Concord, Massachusetts musing and talking to himself and later writing in his journal. In 1841 he entered: These enchantments are medicinal, they sober and heal us. These are the plain pleasures, kindly and native to us.

For Emerson and for us, local pleasures are the most powerful and healing. They enliven us kindly. Native pleasures are not too distant or awesome. They are close, simple, and medicinal in their subtle beauty. I find this truth in every saunter.

Last week with son Joseph, the beautiful but frozen Wisconsin woods were crashed by a warm seep – a verdant, warm, and open spring that flowed into Lake Wingra. Robins bathed, puddle ducks puddled, delicate summer insects touched on crusty rime, and winter woodpeckers made red exclamations on balmy anomalies. I do love late winter’s junco-feathered skies, but this time of year I could do with a bit of green. Suddenly we found ourselves in lush and leafy mercies. I felt good, if not healed, of winter’s crusty crank.

Happily, winter greens are never far off – if we walk slowly in our musings. Underfoot and all around lichens, mosses, and defiant algal variations dapple the winter woods with blues and steels and emeralds. I am sure Emerson was pleasured by these plain native jewels of his own woods. We will be delighted as well, when we welcome John Pearson (notorious lover of cryptogams) to New Tree School in the Loess Hills on March 21st. The first day of spring will bring new charms, but winter’s plain pleasures will still be given freely. Read our Winter and Spring 2015 Offerings for details and for other invitations to plain Emersonian pleasures, kindly and native to us.

Wingra Woods, Madison Wisconsin, in February
Wingra Woods, Madison Wisconsin, in February