Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thoreau/Twain: Brothers on the River at the Thoreau Annual Gathering, Semi Annual Thoreau Play

Thoreau/Twain: Brothers on the River
Masonic Hall, 
58 Monument Sq, 
Concord, MA
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
(immediately after the performance of "HDT's Heroic Journey")

"Be thou my Muse, my Brother--,"
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Both Henry David Thoreau and Samuel Clemens were by the deathbeds of their beloved brothers.  What happens when one brother is left on the river, and the other has to complete the rest of the journey in life alone?

Come see Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain meet under new and unusual circumstances; a meeting that never happened in history. Finally, both have a chance to recognize and reconcile their parallel journeys. 

Primary texts of the play are taken directly from 2 main sources: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers & Life on the Mississippi, as well as from journals & letters from the authors themselves.

Written by
Tammy Rose
and Henry David Thoreau
and Samuel Clemens

Friday, May 31, 2019

Walt Whitman at 200!

Richard Smith aka "Henry", to his close friends far and wide gave a grand presentation on Whitman at First Parish on May 31st.

He had several readers, all females, reading Whitman's poems and the narrative stuck to the chronology.  It started with Leaves of Grass arriving in Concord, and Emerson's response-which the excited Whitman included in future editions.

Emerson encouraged Whitman to leave out the sexy part of the Adam and Eve poems, Thoreau and Bronson Alcott visited Whitman in Brooklyn, Civil War poems-Lincoln died, great poetry was made and reread throughout America.

And Whitman visited Emerson 7 months before Waldo died, a look of serenity and sweetness on his face (in the midst of his dementia).

The room was packed and at the end we all shouted "Happy Birthday, Walt!", and then had a birthday cake (candles and the birthday song made it all complete).

Concord is a great place to celebrate any birthday, especially your 200th!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Why Dogs are NOT Allowed at Walden and Uncivil Disobedience

Walden is a shared resource and dogs disrupt the wildlife on the property, and they contribute noise, scent, pee and poop to an area where animals, humans and children expect not to encounter them. Plus it is the law-and the Ranger must enforce the law (and frankly, their jobs are hard enough as it is).

HDT publicly opposed an unjust law (taxation which supported the Mexican War and slavery) and sat in jail for his opposition. Should ALL laws be flaunted in his name?

Because of THAT act-people often cite it as a reason for bad behavior while visiting Walden, or use him as an excuse to break rules generally and do whatever they want to do.  They cross the line of basic civility by presuming their rights and beliefs supersede those of others.

As an example:

A teacher took his students on a visit to Walden. he took his dog and when confronted by a ranger-he was proudly defiant and used HDT as his model. He also took photos of this offense and bragged about it on social media.

The original post (excluding identifying photos of the students):

Todd Doehner  Some of my students visiting the home site for extra credit. I got the dog past the park ranger by explaining my duty to disobey unjust laws. No clue how the kid at night with the light saber got in. I did not ask and he did not tell

Rangers devote their jobs to making sure that people and their animals do not destroy or hurt the public land.  As one put it:
Thoreau broke laws for just reasons. Comments like this are incredibly disrespectful to rangers who spend their life’s work protecting a resource as Emerson’s family requested. We teach students about protecting the resource, and your actions detract from that. If you can’t follow the rules, please go somewhere else. After working at Walden for years, I have heard this argument before, “Well, Thoreau would agree with me on this...” It’s a TIRED excuse for doing whatever they want. Thoreau was one man on his friend’s land...we now get over 600,000 people a year at Walden. If you come to the park, you are on Massachusetts State land. Dogs are are only as wise as their owners. Regardless of what you think, other people come to the park expecting a dog-free park and this is about respecting other peoples’ experience in nature....not to mention
wildlife. People visit Walden from all over the world. For some people, this is on their bucket list. I guarantee that they are not coming to see your dog. It’s not really about what Thoreau did in 1845. There was no germ theory of disease then, no running water, and people didn’t bathe much. Darwin’s Origin of Species hadn’t come out yet (1859). Of course, there are MANY other things people do at the park that are stupid, but why add to it?

Another comment was in reaction to a photo of a student standing on one of the stone pillars that outlines the site of the cabin:
If everyone snuck in dogs and climbed on the markers, Walden Pond wouldn't be around for very long. Preserving the pond is everyone's responsibility so future generations will be able to enjoy it. Do you encourage them to climb on tombstones in cemeteries too?

Another discussed Thoreau walking through the forests and how he knew the difference that a domesticated dog can bring to the experience.
Would Thoreau deliberately lead a domesticated animal into a designated wildlife area? I doubt it. His friend Ellery Channing owned a behemoth of a dog named Bose who sometimes accompanied them on walks. But Bose's presence drastically changed the experience for the human walkers, because he wasn't leashed and he went after whatever natural prompts he was attracted to. Which may have been comical and interesting at the time, but these incidents were not part of the kind of exploration that Thoreau preferred. “Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest of five hundred or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation," Thoreau wrote in his journal on October 15, 1859. Should domesticated animals be part of that instruction and recreation? Probably not. Every Bose needs to stay at home on occasion. And even dog lovers need dog-free experiences.
You could write letters of apology to all of the other visitors to Walden Pond that day. They didn't get to see the chipmunks and squirrels that they usually would have seen, otherwise, on their walks. Even the friendly raccoon that often approaches folks was probably deterred from doing so by the presence of your dog. You deliberately altered the park experience for everyone else. And then you boasted about it on social media. Hmmmm.

One of the (in)eloquent responses which ALSO brags of breaking the law about public water supply:
Miles McCloy Humans pick up dog poop. And only morons would be unsettled by a barefoot touching pee. Go dip your feet in the lake. Flints pons In Lincoln, where Thoreau originally wanted to build his cabin, has the best bass fishing in the metro west, but carries heavy fines as it is Lincoln’s water supply and all lincolnites have their heads up their butts. I fished there every day til I moved away from home. Relax.

It's one thing to disobey as a protest. Another to brag about it publicly on social media. Yet another to teach disrespect to students, especially when it comes to how to treat already vulnerable lands.

There are plenty of places for dogs and for kids to climb on things.  Please stop using HDT as an excuse for bad behavior.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Concord Drunk History

I'm taking a Tourguide Class in Concord, and am constantly amazed at all the stories of the residents.  There is the huge area of Revolutionary War events (April 19, 1775-specifically)-then onto the Transcendentalists-my favorites.

And even into the modern age, how those two periods get represented and honored.  The Colonial Inn has a great trivia night and lots of fun restaurants for townies and visitors alike.

I've always wanted to encourage the gathering of Emerson's table, or the Margaret Fuller Conversations for Women (I always thought that might be more fun), but I've yet to figure out how to gather people in a room.

And then, it came to me-Drunk History.  In Concord! Announce it at one of the pubs, maybe even pick a period of history-or better yet a date, from a journal-or one from Henry's, one from Nathaniel's, one from Waldo and Bronson-maybe they all have different stories of the same night.  And we should tell stories-open to the audience-with a little help from alcohol.

That way everyone can help be the tourguide-and you can get better stories that aren't in the books.  Let me know if you want to be part of the journey. (Picture by HDThoreau, Journal from 1854)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thoreau/Twain: Brothers Of the River

For the first evening of this 2019 Edition of the Annual Gathering of Thoreauvian Appreciators my play, THOREAU/TWAIN: Brothers of The River will be performed.

I am immensely proud to be presenting my work to such an excellent group of scholars, enthusiasts, teachers, environmentalists, historians, professors-AND this year's focus will be encouraging the ENGINEERS to come out in full force.

Therefore, not ONLY am I excited to be able to do research on both Thoreau and Twain, but also to focus on the parts of their lives which reflect their interest in innovation, technology and how things get put together. 

Hint: This will involve HDT's work on developing a new formula for a graphite pencil, AND Twain's enthusiasm for a printing machine known as the Paige Compositor. Which will survive the ultimate test of engineering?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Conversational Circles Revived

I heard about the revival of the most traditional of Transcendental conversations on Twitter.  Susan Bailey has an account and a website that mentions all things Louisa on a regular basis.

I got in touch with her and she put me in touch with the organizer.  He sent an email which contains the following description:

"In an attempt to generate interest, I have chosen a timely initial topic in terms of the renewed interest  in Little Women, and the revolution of change resulting from the surgence of women into the Congress. But it is not lost on me that the idea of conversation circles modeled after those of the 19th century  might seem quaint in the 21st. The spiritual kinship I feel with Alcott and Fuller and their Concord philosophical community motivates me to attempt a revival."

If you are interested in joining, let me know in the comments and I will send you the contact info.  I wasn't able to be in town for this month, but I hope to be able to report on the events in future.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Day Hike at Walden (with snacks)

Are you ready to begin the new year with some good exercise and in the wonder of the Walden woods?

The easiest way to time travel is to spend some time in nature, especially in a place that hasn't changed too much since Henry David Thoreau helped to wear down the paths created by Native Americans. You too can have the same kind of experience that he had-granted there is a parking lot and MORE trees than in day, but just as lovely.

Meet at 12 (or a little before-check out the visitor's center and the cabin), and wear weather appropriate clothing.  There will even be snacks and hot cocoa afterwords! I hear that Richard (the returning Thoreau) has made the same kind of "cookie" that Henry and his sisters made for their new year's eve festivities!

There is a list of hikes throughout Massachusetts, if Walden is a bit too far for your horse/car.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thoreau Farm 20th Anniversary Events!!

How many of us remember what 1998 was like?

Apparently, it was the year that a few like minded people decided to get together and preserve Henry David Thoreau's Birthplace.  The house itself was moved down the road from its original address, but I don't think Henry would mind the new setting.  If he were to visit now (and who knows, maybe he has?), he'd find a farm adjacent to the property (Gaining Ground); one that is operated by volunteers who raise fruits and vegetables for food pantries.

He'd also find a replica of his cabin behind the building. There are MANY replicas now, not counting copycats from the Tiny House movement.  I wonder if he'd think this one was as oddly placed as the one near the Walden Pond Parking lot.  Cynics might see the Parking Lot Replica as an accommodation to tourists who can't be bothered to walk to the original site.  But frankly, any opportunity to place yourself inside the cabin changes your perception of what a human needs.

The Thoreau Farm itself is only slightly more expansive, but with a full family, it probably felt very crowded. You can feel the years of history standing on the old wood planks of the floor.

If you can't come to the events, I'd recommend visiting the House (and cabin). Time travel is easier than we think.

You can view the full events page here:

Jack Beatty led an excellent panel discussion about Thoreau's Moral Sense of Purpose, and how important it was to be true to oneself.  A spirited audience member got up and reiterated questions about staying true to one's beliefs-especially as an outsider.  However, under the circumstance, he was discussing the current political climate.  He was a supporter of the president, and felt seriously outnumbered and defensive. So much so that his words became forceful and angry-which also felt unnatural to the discussion.
It was the PERFECT setup for the movie about Ramsey Clark,, a controversial lawyer who always fought for the little guy-even when it wasn't a popular choice.  It is important to be reminded that things are NEVER as black and white as they sound.

The next day was a lovely gathering for Saving Thoreau's Birthplace, and it had author Lucille Stott reading from her book about how a concerned group of citizens was able to fight and preserve Thoreau's birthplace.  It is not always possible for the creators of history to gather together in one room, but that day it happened.  Almost everyone had a memory of how difficult and absurd it all seemed 20 years ago-and was astonished and proud to be standing in the vibrant arts center that it is today!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Little Women being shot in Concord and Harvard

There have been sightings of movie stars at Walden Pond, asking for directions to the bathroom (Emma Watson).

Also, sightings of Concord visiting the town of Harvard-or at least buildings masquerading as Concord Center for Halloween.

19th century women in boats under the famous Bridge, watched by people from the 21st century. Tracked, photographed and filmed.

The veil between the ages gets thinner and thinner everyday.  Or maybe the history is getting more interesting and the costumes are getting better.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Cheating on Thoreau with Mark Twain

This weekend, there was a Writer's Conference in Hartford, CT at the Mark Twain House and Museum.  2 days of authors, talks, workshops, discussions and just plain "trouble starting" (apparently in the Twain world, that's a regular in-joke)

I've already THOREAU-LY enjoyed one day of it (half) and am making note of a few things so far:

A) The sessions are wonderful, but the weekend seems especially small-like the size of a decent first-year attempt, but I believe this is not their first rodeo.  Personally, I LOVE that it is so small, bc I feel that I can get to know each participant, and there are not too many overlapping sessions. However, I'd rather make contact with MORE people and attend as many sessions as possible-noting the possibility of sneaking out of a dull one and into something better (the grass is always greener on the other side of the classroom wall-especially when you can hear them laughing!)

B) The vast majority of the attendees/presenters are female and 50+. SO much so, that I would encourage the organizers to rethink their focus for next year.  It's not a matter of Mark Twain representation-he only registers as a host in the mental conversation. It could be a female-centric weekend, even encouraging mentorships and networking. Harriet Beecher Stowe was/is an immediate neighbor and is certainly enough of a successful writer to be a part of the conversation. (And can also be a cautionary tale about not allowing your book to be adapted into a play without lawyers in place!)

C) There were a few (2?) young African American women-but no corresponding African American women presenting.  Hartford has a decent population of African Americans and none/very few(?) were in representation within the sold-out Twain house tours.  Personally, I would LOVE to be taught by people coming from different experiences and especially the locals.  (And it's not like Uncle Tom's Cabin isn't ready for innovative and modern interpretations or even literate attacks)

D) As mentioned, the Harriet Beecher Stowe house is right next door, but my friends and I had to wander over ourselves and take a tour during lunch (We had given up our lunch hour on the first day to tour the Twain house).  It should be an option for the weekend. It should be an option for a theme.

E) I've discovered several major parallels between Twain and my first love, Thoreau.  They were both at their brothers' sides while they lay dying. BEFORE they became authors. And what major bond did all those brothers share? Life on the river. Sometimes life just encourages you to meet the right people, and if you are properly prepared-you can recognize why. I think it's my next big work.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Santa's Legend is Based on Mushrooms!

In case you ever wondered how the legend of Santa Claus is specific beyond the stories of Krampus or St, Nicholas Day, there is the possibility of another explanation.

In short, in Lapland there were shamans-who would eat mushrooms.  The mushrooms were red with white spots; the shaman/shamen grew to look like them if they ate enough. They visited people, bringing gifts-like any good visitor. And bc of the snows, they often had to enter through the CHIMNEY.

His story is here:, a blog apparently written by the author himself.

And to underline his points, it also has appeared in the pages of the New York Times. (a familiar sounding article, but with more weight!)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cherrie Corey is back In Town!

And is leading a photographic tour of Decordova, again (I was there LAST year). I might do it again for the sheer exercise of spending time in SEEING.  Also, you can get into the museum as well.

She'll also have a walk in Great Meadows.  Beautiful.

She's one of my favorite naturalists. She SEES everything.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Thoreau You Don't Know

I found myself talking to a woman who got an Advanced Degree in Environmental Studies.  I mentioned Thoreau and she responded that he was the one author she didn't like.  Something about his style, something about the way he was presented.
I told her what I tell all my friends.  Walden was the first multimedia/multiplatform book.  Henry wanted you to take it to the Pond (or any natural surrounding) and read a page or two, and then PUT IT DOWN and go experience the natural world. GO FOR A WALK!

He wrote all his wisdom down after spending most of his life outdoors, after the experience.  Go out and explore.  And if you are lucky, you'll discover something in Henry's books that answers a question (or leads to a new question) that you will have discovered on your own.  The best books keep you in dialogue.

Stay curious.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Henry and Walt

One of my favorite stories below, on Walt's bday.  I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall, no matter how dull and awkward the conversation might have been!

From "Meet Henry David Thoreau" posting on Facebook (aka Richard Smith)

Thoreau and Whitman met once, in November of 1856. Thoreau was on an extended surveying job in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and Walt was living at his mother's house in Brooklyn. On November 10 Thoreau and Bronson Alcott (who was holding Conversations in New York City) went to the Whitman home to meet the poet. They had another companion with them, Sarah Tyndale, a prominent abolitionist. Both Alcott and Thoreau had read "Leaves of Grass" and were mightily impressed with it. Thoreau himself had written that it was "some of the best reading" he had done in some time. Thoreau was 39 years old, Walt was 37; both men were, by literary standards, failures.
When they arrived at the Whitman home they were met, "kindly yet awkwardly" by Walt. He took the trio up to his bedchamber, a room he shared with his mentally retarded brother Eddie. Alcott noted pictures of Hercules, Bacchus and a satyr pasted to the bedroom wall, calling it Walt's "pantheon" and wondered which one represented Whitman the best.
It seems that, not surprisingly, Alcott did most of the talking. He tried to get Thoreau and Walt to talk to each other but both were reserved; Alcott later wrote that Whitman and Thoreau had eyed each other “like two beasts, each wondering what the other would do, whether to snap or run.” Soon after the two writers warmed to each other as they discussed Hindusim and poetry. Walt was very curious to know what the Concordians thought of his book of "pomes" (as he pronounced it): "He is very curious of criticism on himself or his book, inviting it from all quarters, nor suffering the conversation to stray very wide away from Walt's godhead..." (Bronson Alcott, Journal; 1857)
Thoreau himself later wrote, "I did not get far in conversation with him — two more being present — and among the few things which I chanced to say, I remember that one was, in answer to him as representing America, that I did not think much of America or of politics, and so on, which may have been somewhat of a damper to him...Since I have seen him, I find that I am not disturbed by any brag or egoism in his book. He may turn out the least of a braggart of all, having a better right to be confident. He is a great fellow."
The visit lasted about two hours. Before they parted company Thoreau and Whitman exchanged gifts; Thoreau gave the Poet a copy of his "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers." In return, Walt presented Thoreau with a copy of the 1856 (second edition) of "Leaves of Grass.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Henry's Spring and Thoughts of Renewal in Writing

Falling Out and in Love with the Man(uscript).

Sometimes it's good to be obsessed with your writing.

And then sometimes, it makes you sick with the intensity.

So it's good to be able to take a step back, and get back into your life.
AND, you'd be amazed at how much easier it is to edit when you have a little perspective.

And then, when you get back into it, there's a lot of THERE there.
Sure, trim away all the fat.  Lots of crap, but now it's easier to let go of it.

And I'm sure it'll be a cycle.  I need to get through this draft.  And then, rinse, repeat.

I'll forget again. But I'll fall in love again.

Henry reminds me of the cycles of the seasons. And cycles of writing.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Henry's 8 Drafts of Walden

I'm working on my own novel and I wonder about Henry's drafts.

He HAND COPIED every word.  And he eventually got to Walden.

I'm wondering at times if I should do a Page 1 rewrite, there have GOT to be benefits of the method. Every word counts!!

I hope you are as fascinated by the novel writing process as I am.

I'm taking 2 classes (1 on Query Letters to Lit Agents and one on World Building in Fiction). Getting an editor lined up, workshopping one of the chapters.  Very exciting.

My goal this month is a readable draft.  I have the structure, and 250 pages of scenes, notes, and things to write.  I want to send out the first 50 pages to my editor asap.

I've published several short stories and plays, but getting together a giant chunk of something (with a full time job plus travel) is tremendously difficult. But rewarding!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Henry Talks of Spring Thaws

HDT writes of the subtle distinctions between winter and spring, but he hasn't felt the 80 degree February Days.

There used to be snow in winter, blizzards and lions like March coming in.

Now, 6 months of the year, it is 50 degrees. And it always smells like it is going to warm up.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“The universe is wider than our views of it.”

Thoreau was right. “The universe is wider than our views of it.”

He was also paraphrasing, it seems, Shakespeare.

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies"

There was also a Super Bloody Blue Moon this morning, a red eclipse. It looked 20% bigger than usual.

The universe has no edges, yet it seems to be getting bigger all the time.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Dream of Escape

A dream of escape.

Here in the Northeast in America, we are under a cold snap.

Since Christmas, we have been suffering with below zero temperatures and into the predictable future (according to the iPhone).

And then, with or without a cold (which I have), we are essentially trapped indoors.

I've been lucky to have a writing project to take me out of myself.

The BEST vacation I can ever have. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Lesya Struz Lives!

There was a Walden ranger, wonderful and always smiling, eager to take you on any kind of hike.  She led me throughout Waltham and Walden, Cat Rock Park-to the backyard of my own office building.

She always had lovely stories, of her and her husband Joris, who had bought her a CUTE sportscar for her birthday one year.  She had tried to keep bees, until they kept her.  She wore pants that zipped off at the knee and camped out by firetowers at tops of mountains.  She led people through the woods and taught me Pippsesewwa, the shy flower, whose face is always turned to the ground.

Her ghost will follow me along trails, I can only hope, and always let her urge me to see the deer and the otter and the beaver and the wasp burls and how to age a pine tree and all the names of all the everythings.

The Moguls. The trails of Walden, the beaver dam and the mosquitoes.

I adored her and we laughed together.  It was almost as good as saying I love you, the way she did-opened her heart-everytime she named a flower or tree.

A nice obit from the Pacific Crest Trail, for S'Miles:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Houses Haunted by the Tourists Willing them Into Life

The Old Manse, Emerson's Bush, Writers homes and museums.  Thoreau's tiny plot of dirt, framed by pillars of an archaeologist.

Wanting everything to still be the way it is in your imagination.  How is it that just some ink on a few pages can be eloquent enough to capture a human.  Are we haunted by books?  By furniture, by houses, by clothes and other things that were touched by people who have long since passed away.

We the living long to be surprised by something that is beyond life.  Are we really so bored?  What if the spirits are longing for our boredom.  Just to spend a minute inside our imperfect bodies. 

Maybe its the stories of the stories that move us.  Something that lives just beyond our scope of being able to describe it.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Concord Changes

There was a big showing of a new exhibit at the visitor's center.

2 longtime Concordians have moved on.

Walden is getting colder as we move towards autumn.

Henry's table is back in Concord.

Tomorrow is October.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Marching and Sauntering at The Umbrella Art Stroll

The Annual Umbrella Arts Stroll is being held in the Hapgood Wright Forest in Concord, all along the Thoreau-Emerson Ramble (which is the path through the woods from Concord Center to Walden Pond)

My role in the live art is performing my piece about Henry David Thoreau called Marching & Sauntering.  It originated in the idea that his work (mostly Civil Disobedience) has become relevant, which is the greatest gift an author can have.  A great birthday present for his 200th.

Sadly, the "Marching" piece got turned on its head when the KKK erupted in a march in Charlottesville, VA.

There was a performance the next day, in addition to reading my particular piece, I also read ALL of CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.  Henry was happy to have his words spoken out loud in the woods.  And yes, it did take about an hour, the same time it took him when he gave it as a lecture himself.

The next performance has been updated with excerpts from "Slavery in Massachusetts"

And the final performance of Marching & Sauntering will be held on Saturday, September 9th at 3pm (the Sept 2nd performance was moved due to Labor Day).

More info is below:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Thoreau at Mackinac Book, Art Exhibit and Award

The Mackinac Island Arts Council is publishing a book of stories, essays and poems called Thoreau At Mackinac. They had a marvelous event on July 8 (I wasn't present)

But I am delighted to say that I am in the book & I have received recognition (a monetary award) for my essay- a cross between non-fiction and fiction.  I describe it as a film just beyond reach.  This is how I see history, a series of stories we tell ourselves and future generations based on the few facts we have.

Below is the galley copy I've received, as well as the first page of the essay.

The book itself.

First page of the essay.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Mackinac Island Tribute and Morgan Library, NYC

Big countdown to the 200th Birthday!!

There is a big celebration scheduled for July 8 on Mackinac Island in Michigan, on Lake Huron.

They will have an art exhibition (which will include a few pieces of mine, inspired by Walden trees and views from trains).  AND there will be an AMAZING essay published in a book about Thoreau's visit to the island in 1861. (One of my best pieces, I believe, very proud, as you can tell!)

Also the Journals are being presented at the Morgan Library, reams of pages of handwriting.  The Thoreau Farm blog link of my review is upcoming....

Monday, May 1, 2017

Latest post on Thoreau Birthplace & Farm Blog

The essay in part, is here:

Thoreauvian World Domination, Faith in the Seed of an Idea

By Tammy Rose
Thoreau knew about the cycle of the seasons, the dispersion of seeds, about migration of birds and about immigration of peoples. When he lived at the pond, there were Irish railroad workers living in shacks (much like his) and he noticed the succession of humans, just as he noted the succession of trees.
“Such Irish as these are naturalizing themselves at a rapid rate-and threaten at last to displace the Yankees-as the latter have the Indians” The Journals, 1851
He wrote of Brister Freeman, a former enslaved Concordian resident who had purchased an acre of land in Walden Woods in the late 1770’s and whose name still holds title to Brister’s Hill and Brister’s Spring. If you are in the area, it is just the other side of Rt 2, inside the Hapgood-Wright Town Forest of Concord. He was most certainly not an “immigrant,” but one who had come to this country under the force of others. The Robbins House in Concord offers more information about him and other African American Concordians, including Ellen Garrison, Henry’s contemporary. We know of her through her letters, but there are many other stories, lives, cultures who are lost to time.
At Harvard, he took Italian, French, German, Spanish and was adept at Latin and Ancient Greek. I know plenty of young linguists, including myself, who were also inspired to take these languages as part of their Thoreauvian educations. He also had great respect for Native Americans and was adept at finding arrowheads on the ground, symbols of a lost culture.
Thoreau had all of these humans in his consciousness as he described the varied world around him. And the world has received his words, to the extent that they have taken in his ideas as their own. His ideas influenced the writings of Tolstoy and Chekov. Gandhi was introduced to the works of Thoreau by Henry S. Salt, who had written the 1890 Thoreau biography as well as other books on Ethical Vegetarianism. And Nelson Mandela, the ultimate symbol of Civil Disobedience, spent 27 years behind bars under Apartheid before he became President of South Africa. This is how the seeds of ideas get dispersed. Henry would have been proud.

Nelson Mandela’s cell where he spent part of his 18 years in prison on Robben Island. He spent a total of 27 years behind bars. (Photo courtesy of Renata Nowalk-Garmer}

Is there any other American writer whose most valuable ideas have been exported like this? Alexander Hamilton? Mark Twain? Even Walt Whitman, who “contains multitudes,” has a voice for the modern era, but one which is difficult to translate. Walden the pond also benefits by being at the crossroads of education and innovation. Even the most analytic MIT student needs to escape to the woods every so often. Families who are in the country because of the H-B 1 Visa can be overheard on the shores of Walden on any given summer day. Close your eyes, and except for the sand, you could easily imagine you are at the U.N.
Speaking of politics, sometimes Thoreau could predict the future in examples from the past.
“The orator yields to the inspiration of a transient occasion, and speaks to the mob before him, to those who can hear him; but the writer, whose more equable life is his occasion, and who would be distracted by the event and the crowd which inspire the orator, speaks to the intellect and health of mankind, to all in any age who can understand him.” –Walden
 Sound like anyone we know? Any popular ruler speaking to a mob before him? But thoughtful ideas spread like seeds, cross political borders without regard to fear or prejudice. They transcend, space, time, walls and even language. The only modern equivalent we have is technology; where the medium is the message. Whether it be stone, paper, breath or video. And Henry continues his previous section:
 “A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips;— not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself. The symbol of an ancient man’s thought becomes a modern man’s speech.”- Walden
 Eugene F. Timpe published a book of essays in 1971 called Thoreau Abroad covering 12 different cultures/countries (England, France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Bohemia, Russia, Israel, India, Japan, Australia). What would that number be if a similar volume were to be published now, in 2017?
There is a new project to be done, indeed, which I imagine would be easy enough to do. It is possible for us to translate Walden “into every language,” as stated above. And “carve it out of the breath of life itself.” It is entirely possible to request this of the visitors of Walden, alone.
Using very basic technology, contributors could be asked to translate and videotape themselves speaking a single line from the book Walden into a videocamera. A website could be created to receive submissions from around the world to capture and document the more obscure (and dying) languages.
What would be the biggest barrier to the completion of such a massive project?
There are certainly enough people across the world who would volunteer their time and language skills. The technology has never been cheaper. Many excellent translations of Walden have appeared in languages that Thoreau could have only dreamed of learning, including most recently, Farsi.
What then would be the biggest problem for this or any other project to celebrate the diversity of peoples?
Walls. A killing off of support, both monetarily and politically. Massive cuts to the National Park Service, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Increase in funding for Defense and Security, both terms being NewSpeak for their inherent opposites, War & Fear. A strict political separation of people which prevents cross-pollination of ideas, languages and people.
Keep the faith. Plant a seed.

The link is here:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Walden on Earth Day

Walden is appearing on Facebook, and in people's lives here on Earth Day.

The Earth is shaking from all the March for Science supporters. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Thoreauvian World Domination (To Come)

Another post for the Thoreau Farm Blog to come. (Link will appear upon publication)

About a project that I have in mind, recording every single line of Walden, in MANY different languages. By visitors. For visitors,

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Civil Disobedience 2017

HDThoreau is quickly being known as the author of Civil Disobedience rather than the author of Walden.

He'll always be known as both, but this year for his bicentennial birthday present, his work is more relevant than ever.

It seems that ever since the inauguration, there has been a peaceful protest almost everyday. Sadly, there has also been a new protest worthy announcement everyday.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hinduism and Transcendentalism

I started out in life wanting to be a hippie.  I LOVED the Monkees and liked the Beatles (yes, only "liked") and saw how the "peace and love" movement and music had a trace of the mystical.  There was something echoing about the words "Transcendental Meditation".  And even in the 1990's and beyond, I made friends who were into hummus, tofu, yoga and the teachings of India.  But they did not seem to be into "Indians".  That is, they didn't seem to know any.

I've been working in Technology for the past few years and have been making friends with a lot of people who were born and/or raised in India.  I've been amazed at their levels of devotion in this secular American society, as I am with any devoted religious group.

I have one friend who left when he was 13, and how he mentions the deepness of Hinduism and meditation as holy things, but not things which take him over in his everyday life.  It is not something that he can aspire to.  He pointed me in the direction of Deepak Chopra for the Pop Psychology introduction to it.

He was careful to talk about separation, of spirit and the rest of the ego and the titles that you associate with yourself.  That "detachment" is a bad translation.  That emotion is a thing which washes over you like a wave, and you must let it.  And that things are only there to evoke emotions, but are not significant in and of themselves.

The longer I am on this earth, the more I am grateful for forests.  And lakes.  For the healthy bodies of the people I love.  For things which mean other things, but which hold significance in and of themselves.

I do not want to "appropriate culture", not even the culture of the 60's.  But I still see some divides across beliefs.  And I'm noticing that although Henry mentions his books, there are not a lot of books on the topic.  Or plays......

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HDT making news at Standing Rock

A great article about the Standig Rock protests in North Dakota. Pure drinking water on tribal lands vs an oil pipeline.

Civil Disobedience. Henry's on record again.

And when all else is lost and you are staring down the barrel of a rifle, use the words, "We love you" 

It worked for the people in the article. Nobody died.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Latest Swim in Coldest Water Yet!!

My most recent swim (and most likely the last of 2016) happened on 10/19. I think the water was estimated to be 54 degrees. The air temp that day had reached 80, so I think I am indeed a fair weather friend!! 

The fastest time too!! I'm sure it had nothing to do with the cold! ;)

After & before, the same day, believe it or not!!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Opening of the Visitor's Center!!

Finally, after waiting all summer for the NEW Visitor Center to open, it opened on September 27!!

But I was in NYC.



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Upcoming Celebration of the Closing of the Arts Walk

September 5 at 11am, there will be a brunch near Fairyland Pond.

In the area of performance, at the gathering point of all the artists. Everyone who can show up, will.

A picnic.  Bring your own art. And food.

It will be a celebration of the Opening Event, the art all along the trails, a dance, my 3 performances, including Thoreau's Bday, a Moonlit Walk and rest by the benches, and a poet (who I couldn't witness during her own performance).

Funny how a place records moments for you.....

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Thoreau Plays of Summer 2016

Thus far, I have done 2 different sets of plays for Thoreau.  And I'm working on another one before the end of September!

I'm excited by this approach which I seem to have discovered/pioneered/stumbled upon.  As a curious reader/researcher who is obsessed with the impossible questions, I love bringing together a wide variety of quotes and sources, to tell a story from a somewhat modern perspective.  As if a scholar could dramatize their research.  Or give the great minds access to the internet & the variety of ideas that are more commonplace in our modern age.

One, July 6th, for the opening of the Thoreau Society, a play called "Thoreau Vs Schultz: Skimming the Surface".  It was a rebuttal to Pond Scum in the NYer, everyone was utterly delighted by it.  A comedy.  I included LOTS of Thoreau's critics' quotes.  Emerson, Robert Louis Stevenson, even where he was called Hitler.  (The other "play" offered was a video of pages of quotes with minor introductions.)

The second was a series of performances, called "the Transcendental Ghosts of Fairyland Pond".  There was a birthday performance (July 12th, we had cupcakes made by my mother!) And then 2 more, July 16 & 17th.  One geared for children-I had a dream that I needed to lead everyone around the Pond, to keep my audience interested.  It was a gift from Henry, who taught class like that.  And it was a great way to discover art and flowers-PIPSESSEWWA- for the audience.  We did it again for the grownups the next day.  I also attended a moonlight walk on July 19th, which was incredible.

As an offshoot of the above, I've begun researching Brister (of Brister's Hill and Stream) and Peter Hutchinson-who knew more about the woods of Concord than any man alive.  Black Walden and a lecture by Dr. Lois Black of Weslyan about the hidden history of Concord.  I am NOW working on a performance of a meeting between Ellen Garrison and Thoreau for the Robbins House, for the opening of the African American Museum on September 24th. (And perhaps for an event on September 17th, as well)!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ghosts in the Forest At Arts Ramble Opening!

Welcome to the Emerson Umbrella Arts Ramble for 2016!
Follow the signs!!  
More information can be found at:

Some crazy artists at the trailhead! ;)

The map maker and my beautiful mother survey the Arts Walk.

Nancy, introducing the art and artists in front of Fairyland Pond.

An eager audience, indeed!!

A poet and her son!

Dancers poised on a bench, ready to turn the branch sculpture into a kinetic tent!!

My Mom and I, both immensely proud after the performance!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Thoreau & Money

A terrific night!

Jim Sherblom gave a very eloquent lecture on the financial context of Thoreau's time, as well as the economic philosophies that shaped him and his contemporaries. The crashes of 1837 & 2008 are more similar than we might realize.  The full text is at his website, here.

Jim Sherblom and the Strawberry Shortcake Party (Thoreau's Huckleberry Party would fit in nicely)

Reflections on the evening.

Both Henry & I enjoyed the evening immensely!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Art Ramble Opening!

Thursday is the first event/opening/kickoff for the Art Ramble at the Emerson Umbrella!

I will be performing for 10 minutes as an intro to the series of performances in July.

Thoreau's Annual Gathering, July 6, Wednesday night at the opening of the conference. 

Thoreau's Birthday, July 12

July 16 & 17

Rain date, July 23rd

More info can be found at the Emerson Umbrella's website!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dates for the Emerson Umbrella Arts Ramble!

Finally, the official dates for the GHOSTS of FAIRYLAND POND PROJECT!!

Part of the official Emerson Umbrella Arts Ramble 2016:
All performances will take place inside the Hapgood-Wright Forest, 4 minutes along the path, on the shores of Fairyland Pond.


June 2, Thursday, Opening for the Summer Project (excerpt)

July 12, Tuesday eve, Henry's Bday, 6pm (Party afterwards!)

July 16, Saturday, 11am
July 17, Sunday, 2pm

(July 23rd, Saturday, Rain Date)

Additional events:
On July 16th, a Tiny House Festival is happening at 12pm on, come enjoy the day at the Umbrella!!
Also, a Moon Walk happening on July 19, a quiet meditation, completely separate yet also cool!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thoreau Annual Gathering and Arts Ramble in Summer

I have a few exciting ideas for the upcoming summer and also for 2017.

I ALSO am happy to report that I now have venues and am finalizing dates for the upcoming shows.

The AG show will be called "Thoreau VS Schultz" and will be performed around 8pm on July 6th, on the eve of the gathering.

There will also be a series of performances, perhaps including art, INSIDE the Hapgood-Wright Forest.  Both are providing me with opportunities to actually bring both ideas to fruition.

Very excited to spend my days as a theater/creator!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Thoreau's Continuing Identity

Despite his famous grave at Sleepy Hollow, HDT is alive and well.

There are countless books, events, plays being read, written, performed and published about him every year.

The "interpretations" take on various permutations.  Live-action humans who lead educational programs, or people who write books for children.  Or, theater which extends the documented & literary materials into personal immediacy (not that I am biased, but this is what I do).

Lately, there has also been a video game created about Walden.

And a young graphic designer who wants to "update" Thoreau's words for the modern age.  Something about "how dated the language is" and the "inaccessibility" of its ideas.  (I can't bear to include a link, or even the designer's name for fear of adding to publicity, and thereby adding "support")

The last example is the slippery slope.  At what point does he need to be repackaged, yet again? Instead of taking bumper sticker slogans from the literature, it is building a book based on the bumper sticker format.

How does a reader distinguish from educational aids and the genuine literature? Cliff Notes are built on the idea of helping a student, or providing a way to skim through the Great Works.  Reader's Digest Condensed versions for the populace.  Books for people who will not have the luxury of time to attend classes for each.

Time is the biggest social class divide.  Not the rich vs the poor.  But people who fill their leisure time with things to prevent them from thinking, and those who seek ideas and quiet to fill up their thoughts on their own.

The speed-read of Walden will be a physical oxymoron.  A publication created to last hundreds of years because it is printed on acid free paper, but it only fit for immediate gratification.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Thoreau Farm

(Richard Smith interpreting Henry David Thoreau.  Photo credit:Alan Rohwer)

With both Richard Smith (in the guise of his alter-ego, Thoreau) and Thomas Blandings (Former President of the Thoreau Society), the Thoreau Farm was abuzz with discussions about Civil Disobedience.

The conversation was launched from Henry's writings, the first publication of the essay in The Aesthetic Papers in 1849, a single volume journal published by Elizabeth Peabody.
This original (first publication) was entitled "Resistance to Civil Government".
(The highlights below are based on my personal notes)

References to his best quotes/paraphrases & concepts:
Government is best which governs least.
Not "No Government" but "Better Government"
Ideals are not to be realized, but I must advance towards them-age 26
(HDT treated "Reality" as a verb, more than a noun)
His effort to see the big in the little (from his last walk with Ellery Channing)
His advice to a young writer: "Write with fury & edit with phlegm!"
On being imprisoned, "They treated me as mere flesh & bone"

His Actual Night in Jail
In 1846, he came to town from Walden, to pick up shoes that needed repair.
(And ended up being in jail with only one shoe!)
Sam Staples, an old friend, and future surveying assistant was the tax collector.
Told Henry that he hadn't paid tax for 6 years, and that he'd loan him the money.
Otherwise, he'd have to go to jail.
Henry reportedly said "Now is as good a time as any,"
The jail itself was substantial, built 1790, Concord was the county seat (which included Cambridge).
His prison roommate had burned down a barn and spent a considerable amount of time in jail afterwards. (Note that years earlier Henry had inadvertently burned down a forest near Walden, but was never punished for it)
The below exchange never happened,
it is actually from the Broadway play, "The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail"
Emerson: "What are you doing in there, Henry?"
HDT: "What are you doing out there, Waldo?"

HDT was a philosopher of balance. 
"Actual/Natural World" i.e. the world we bump our head against
"Real World" i.e. the Spiritual World
He took few notes in the field, would write up his field notes the next morning. (Speaks to his powers of observation, memory & goal of synthesizing all the elements of a walk)

HDT influenced & was cited by others
MLK, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Buber, Tolystoy, etc
It was pointed out that Gandhi was already on a similar path, based on his Hindu beliefs of Satyagraha (nonviolence) & that HDT's writings served to reaffirm them.

Some tantalizing questions which came up during the discussions included:

What happened to the fugitive slaves that HDT and others helped along the Underground Railroad?
>>He and other helpers never learned the names of anyone they helped, so if they were questioned, they would honestly have no names to offer.

Did Hitler's attempted assassin (an actual person) have moral right on his side?  And would others be given permission to kill, if it is better for society? (i.e. a rabid dog, or D. T Rump?)
>>Are there other options?  HDT argued that you should reject any

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Taking Land Away from the Birds and "Returning" it to the People with Guns

There's an interesting intersection of issues happening in Oregon right now. A bunch of terrorists have taken over a bird sanctuary.

Or, it can also be viewed as a bunch of bullies with guns are using unusual phrasings.  They want the land, which was stolen from Native Americans, to be returned to ranchers. Because the land is now owned by the government, as a preserve.

Can anyone twist the words of "Civil Disobedience" and convince the press and the rest of America that armed protest is the patriotic duty of those who disagree? Even if the basis of their disagreement serves their own personal greed?

Below is the argument from the NYTimes, which is a thoughtful take from a birder, one of the actual people who would lose if the terrorists win.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Announcing a Play for the Annual Gathering of 2016

I'm going to do ANOTHER play for the Annual Gathering!! 

A rebuttal to the article done in the New Yorker, with a comedic twist, of course!

(Saw this on FB, and want to keep it until I can ID it properly!)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

1981 Film Shot in Concord -The House By The Cemetery

There was a movie on TCM recently called "The House by The Cemetery" (1981) and I'm pretty sure some of the exterior town shots were done in Concord Center! There is a "creepy photo" of a ghost in the window that starts things off (which reminds me of a photo that a certain tour guide took of the Emerson House!) The first 15 minutes have shots of Concord, the rest may not be worth watching, in fact-the first 15 are hard to watch. It's a pretty terrible early 1980's horror movie with laughable special effects. They must've used GALLONS of cherry dye for fake blood. Keep an eye out for it!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Death of The Old Tourist Center

There are pictures on Facebook today (and even last week), of the old  Walden Tourist Center being torn down.  It was a cute little cabin.  It contained the headquarters for the rangers and also the bookshop.

They have moved to a container in the parking lot.  Right where I would park to see the sunset.  Or to swim afterhours.

I was more upset about the trees being cut down and the loss of Henry's beanfield in its front yard.

But it is important to document. (I would post the pictures here, but I believe they are too graphic, especially for my future self).

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Schultz vs Thoreau

So the New Yorker published a piece of take-down trash against Henry.

And the Thoreauvian scholars are up in arms.

He hasn't had so much published about him in centuries.

(I, for one, am excited about the conversations)

If it is a matter of reverse-psychology, then it is brilliant.

If not, I know far too many people willing to go to bat for Henry.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Far Azore

I am bound,
I am bound
For a distant shore
For a far Azore.....

Did he just see them on a map? 
What were the island like then?
My cousin's child just told me that the green of Santa Maria is mostly planted.
And that it brings the moisture.
The island underneath is mostly desert!

Monday, April 20, 2015

J. Walter Brain's Passing

This Patriot's Day morning, I awoke to the sad news about a vivacious man who was THE brain of Concord's land.

Corinne Hosfeld Smith's post on the Thoreau Society FB page this morning:

"We hear the sad news that we lost last night a devoted Thoreauvian, J. Walter Brain. He followed Henry's footsteps every day, in every way. Walter knew more about the landscapes of Concord and Lincoln and of Henry's local investigations than anyone else in the last 100 years. Those of us who crossed paths with Walter and accompanied him on his walks have been very fortunate indeed. We learned from the best. Now he can go exploring again with Walter Harding, Ed Schofield, and Brad Dean. Rest easy, Walter. Thanks for everything."

For those of us who love to wander the paths of Lincoln & Concord, just hoping to walk in the steps of HDT, he was the man who had done it all and more.  He was an architect by profession and land surveyor by passion.  He was well respected by every Thoreauvian scholar.  Even if you had just walked a path in Concord yesterday, he could describe in detail the history, the context and several other details that you had completely missed.

If you attended ANY Thoreau lecture/talk/event and the speaker turned to someone for verification, or if an older man with a musical Peruvian accent asked a clarifying question at the end, you can be sure you witnessed his brain at work.  Throughout his life in Concord (I believe he told me he arrived here in the 1950's), he walked the paths and trails and knew all of Henry's lands.  That bit about him knowing more about the landscaped than anyone else in the past 100 years seems to be true.  At least among the living knowledge of the Thoreau Society, he seemed to be the best link to the past and the present.  Maybe even since HDT himself.

My clearest (and dearest) memory is of him from the Annual Gathering last summer (2014).  He and my mother (a native of the Azores, Portugal), had begun talking before the big dinner at the Thoreau Library.  They somehow began singing and exchanging jokes.  I had only ever witnessed him as a serious and respected man.  But suddenly, his face burst forth into a glorious smile and remained that way for the rest of the evening.  I learned later that he was a regular at the jam sessions and a real raconteur.  And as much as we all got to know him, there is still the lingering sense that we wanted to spend MORE time in his presence: to sing more songs, to explore more walks, more, more, more.

Among the Thoreau Society, it seems that Henry's life was ideal.  Exploring the physical (outer) world as well as the inner.  Henry loved music, was kind and had a sense of humor.  Walter was probably the closest model we (I) had to that life.  He was a connection to Henry's tradition; they would have been friends, they would have been allies.

The wandering spirit of HDT lives in each of us.  Go take a walk.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Inspired by Bronson in Florida

I was sitting in Florida, by the beach, when I came across this curious link, which accused him of KILLING Thoreau!

Poor Bronson can't do anything right! 

The author argued that Bronson had bronchitis (there's a pun in there somewhere) and visited Thoreau on Thanksgiving to commiserate about John Brown's killing.

Now, Thoreau already had tuberculosis, and was on his way out.  But still, he was betrayed (or blessed) by a kiss!