Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson’


The color purple makes my world better, especially when it trims up some white flowers and helps attract a butterfly.  Photo by Pat Bean

Flowers make  my world better, especially when they attract a butterfly.           Photo by Pat Bean


  “The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election … But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing 40 years ago.”    

While these words might have been written just yesterday, they were actually written 168 years ago by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across the quote when I was reading my 1998 journal, some of which was written at the same time I was reading Emerson’s journals and, at the same time, ranting about talk show hosts like Jerry Springer and narrow-minded windbags who preach of Christian values but seem to have no Christianity in them.

I was a reporter at the time and so couldn’t turn off what was going on in the world, which some days I now do for the sake of my sanity. Instead, back then, I comforted myself with the thoughts of writers like Emerson, who recognized the world has its cruel side, always has and probably always will, but focused more on its positive attributes.

“My life is a May game. I will live as I like. I defy your strait-laced, weary, social ways and modes. Blue is the sky, green the fields and groves, fresh the springs, glad the rivers, and hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play by game out,” he wrote, as well as: “If Milton, if Burns, if Bryant, is in the world, we have more tolerance, and more love for the changing sky, the mist, the rain, the bleak overcast day, the sun is raining light.”

            For me, it’s been writers like Maya Angelou, who believed God put rainbows in the sky to give us hope, and Charles Kuralt, who saw the everyday kindness of the back roads as making up for the acts of greed in the headlines, who have made my world better.

It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals,” wrote Kuralt.

If, as my grandmother would say, it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand basket – and I can’t disagree in these troubling times – there is good out there, too. Neighbors helping neighbors when hard times fall, kindness and thoughtfulness as part of everyday, ordinary lives, and friendships and partnerships that last a lifetime.

Yes. Nothing ever seems to change.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: CindyKnoke http://tinyurl.com/jsbmjdl I’ve always wanted to live for six months on a houseboat on the Mississippi River. It’s on my bucket list. But this houseboat in Amsterdam looks pretty cool, too. What do you think?

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“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Then I beheld the river … journeying out of the grey past into the green future.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson — Photo by Pat Bean

“Come, let us not be an appendage to Alexander, Charles V., or any of history’s heroes. Dead men all! For me, the earth is new today, and the sun is raining light.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thoughts from the Past

            I have 50 years of journals stashed away in bins, most of which, once finished, have never been opened again. The early years of my journaling were a haphazard kind of thing, cheap steno pads, sometimes with only a few pages filled and more dates missing than captured.

Sometime in the 1980s, I switched to fancy journals, and filled them more faithfully. By the 1990s, journaling had become almost a daily routine. Recently I decided I should try reading my past thoughts, and so I randomly chose a journal in which to begin.

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

Me and Peaches on one of many hikes. She loved hiking as much as she loved tennis balls. — Photo by Kim Perrin

The journal I picked chronicled the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. It was a time when my canine companion was a golden cocker spaniel named Peaches, who was addicted to tennis balls.

Dec. 19, 1998. It’s snowing outside, steady, tiny flakes that stuck to Peaches fur.… I feel as if I would like to sit here all day, curled up in the comfy, warm quilt Cindi (my daughter-in-law) gave me, and simply watch the snow fall. No such luck. Instead, I’ll read a few pages of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal, throw a few tennis balls for Peaches, then go to work.”

In various forms, the above was pretty much the gist of what I wrote again and again for the next few days, always mentioning the tennis ball routine with Peaches, and the snowy weather in Northern Utah.

I also recorded numerous RWE quotes into my journal from his journal. Here are a few:

If Milton, if Burns, if Bryant, is in the world, we have more tolerance, and more love for the changing sky, the mist, the rain, the bleak, overcast day, the indescribable sunrise and the immortal stars. If we believed no poet survived on the planet, nature would be tedious.”

            “There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”

            “My life is a May game. I will live as I like. I defy your strait-laced, weary, social ways and modes. Blue is the sky, green the fields and groves, fresh the springs, glad the rivers, hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play my game out.”

            “Some books leave us free and some books make us free.”

            “The gates of thought – how slow and late they discover themselves. Yet when they appear, we see that they were always there, always open.”

I was amazed, reading Emerson, how alike were so many of my own thoughts, especially the one that would find its way onto my resolution list for 1999: “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

And through all this journaling, Peaches was there with me, sometimes sharing my chair, but mostly standing before me with a tennis ball in her mouth that she wanted me to throw for her to fetch. I am so blessed to have had her in my life, and for Ralph Waldo Emerson, too.

Bean Pat: Express yourself http://tinyurl.com/q93e2pn I like this blog because it encourages me to express myself more with my words. I hope it encourages you to be more expressive in your own way, too.

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Open wide“Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson   

Waiting to Surprise Someone


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 “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walking beside a quiet stream and taking pictures of it, especially when the water is full of reflections, is one of my favorite things to do. This stream is located along Highway 41 in Yosemite National Park. -- Photo by Pat Bean







Travels With Maggie

I recently came across a great travel blog called Wanderings. It’s written by Shannon and Brian, who like me unloaded possessions and took off in an RV to see the country.

I particularly enjoyed one of their recent posts: “7 Lessons from a Year on the Road,”  http://wanderings2010.wordpress.com/

In it, they noted that the “path is beaten for a reason.”How true I thought, but then remembered how much planning I do to take the road less traveled when I have a choice. Or do I?

I hadn't noticed the waterfall before i stopped beside the stream. What a nice surprise. -- Photo by Pat Bean Since beginning my travels with my canine companion, Maggie, seven years ago I’ve seen many of this country’s most popular tourist sites, including Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, The Golden Gate Bridge, the Everglades, and numerous national parks, including my visit just this past month to Yosemite.

My solution to finding a little peace at some of the more popular tourist sites has been to visit them after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. This strategy has at least minimized the impact of traffic jams around the more popular attractions.

I’ve also discovered that even in the midst of hundreds of tourists, it’s still possible to find a bit of solitude to ease the pain of jostled elbows, the cacophony of noise and long lines.

I found it in Yosemite when I pulled off the road at a convenient spot to take some pictures of a small stream and stretch mine and Maggie’s legs a bit. There was room for only two other vehicles to park at the spot, which had no markers and wasn’t indicated on the park’s map.

Except for one lone fisherman, who was upstream a ways, Maggie and I had the place to ourselves. After taking a few pictures of the stream, I glanced up at the rock cliffs on the far side of the water.

Wow! I thought when I saw the waterfall. I had chosen well for my off-the-beaten path rejuvenation stop.

I guess it doesn’t matter which path you choose to follow – beaten or unbeaten – as long as you take one of them.


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South Llano River State Park

Entrance to the visitor center at this Texas state park made me feel as if I had come into a world of faries. In addition to the colorful wildflowers, I was welcomed by a scarlet tanager that hung around the building. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Earth Laughs in Flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” Claude Monet  


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“Earth laughs in flowers.” —  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I needed laughter today to calm my computer-troubled mine. I’m working on an old one that’s as squirrely as a jumping bean in a hot hand, and slow as an injured snail trying to climb a hill.

So here’s a flower to make you smile, and keep me sane, from my friend, Kim’s, yard. I’m here at her house in Ogden because that’s where I needed to come to get my brand new computer, that won’t boot up, fixed. Wish me luck.

A red tulip. -- Photo by Pat Bean

If you’ve never been thrilled to the edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom,  maybe your soul has never been in bloom. — Terri Guillemets

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“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely…” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gypsy Lee in a better place than a dinky RV park in Alamosa. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie*

My grandmother believed that trouble came in threes. I can’t tell you how many times in my life she was proved right, which is why I should have been more worried at the first setback of my perfect day.

My two previous overnight campgrounds were Colorado state parks with trails to walk, lakes to sit by, scenic landscapes out my window and birds to sing me awake in the morning. I expected tonight’s stay at San Luis State Park, just 20 miles down the road from the Great Sand Dunes, would offer much the same.

And well it might have if it hadn’t still been closed for the season – even though my Trailer Life Directory of RV campgrounds, my travel bible, said it opened for the season April 15.

The next closest campground I could locate was a KOA in Alamosa. It was another 25 miles to drive, but the directory’s ratings gave it a thumbs up, along with noting that it opened for the season on March 13.

Wrong again. It didn’t open until May 1.

A pair of mallards cheer up any day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I then realized my RV was pulling to the right and discovered the front passenger tire was low. My nearly new tire, I saw, had a nail in it. Quickly, I retreated to a tire store I had passed about five miles back up the road, thinking it would be an easy fix. Wrong.

Before beginning this trip, Gypsy Lee, which has over 115,000 miles on her, underwent some major wear and tear repairs, including new wheels to replace the corroded and cracked old ones. They were shiny, spiffy and expensive – and required a special key to unscrew their lug nuts, which someone had forgotten to give me.

The small Alamosa tire store, which was also a service station, couldn’t solve my problem. And by now it was after 6 p.m. and every place else was closed for the evening, even the place in Texas where I had bought the wheels. As a last resort, I called them thinking they could FedEx the part to Alamosa overnight.

I had air put in my tire, hoping it was a very slow leak, and retreated to a dinky RV park a few miles away where campers were allowed to dump their gray (dish-washing and/shower) water on the ground. I was not a happy camper. I might have whined a bit, except Gypsy Lee has a rule against such self-pity.

The best thing I have going for me as a lone female traveling this great country of ours is the confidence that I can handle what the road throws at me. This wasn’t the first, or the worse mishap, I had overcome in seven years of traveling.

So while I didn’t get a peaceful night’s sleep because of worrying about my situation, I awoke ready to solve it.

Thankfully my tire still had air in it, and the local Firestone tire shop I called as soon as they were open, said they could solve my problem. If they broke the studs getting the locks off, the sensible woman on the other end of the line told me, then they would just replace them. It wouldn’t be all that expensive.

It turned out they actually had a key for my wheels in stock, which they sold me for future emergencies. I was back on the road, my pocketbook only $22 thinner, within about 15 minutes.

Now let’s see. If I count the two closed RV parks and the nail-in-the-tire, that makes three things that went wrong yesterday.

If my grandmother was right, I had another perfect day ahead of me.

Continuing Day 7, April 25, 2001

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This remnant of the Natchez Trace took me back in history -- and made me think of fairy tale warnings about dark forests. -- Photo by Pat Bean


“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Travels With Maggie

 I was in Mississippi, headed west on Highway 84, with no campground reservation for the night. I was hoping the road would provide – and it did. Just outside the city of Natchez, I came across signs pointing the way to Natchez State Park.

 The public campground was yet another of those southern gems that had been enriching my travels for the past couple of weeks. It sits near the western terminus of the Natchez Trace, a 440-mile long ridge-line trail created by prehistoric animals traveling between bottom grasslands along the Mississippi River and salt licks near what is now Nashville, Tennessee.  The animal foot path was discovered and used by the Indians, and then by early European explorers and settlers.

I found the park so delightful that I spent three nights before altering my route to drive a short section of the trace. My eagerness to do so might have been influenced by the fact I had just recently read Nevada Barr’s murder mystery “Deep South,” which is set along the parkway, and the images she had painted of the scenery were still vivid in my mind. 

 It was a pleasant drive with almost no traffic through a landscape where human development has been banned. When I came across a place where the original trace was still visible, I stopped for a closer look. A National Park Service marker here informed me that “… The Natchez Trace was politically, economically, socially, and militarily important for the United States in its early development. Among those that traveled the road were American Indians, traders, soldiers, ‘Kaintucks,’ postriders, settlers, slaves, circuit-riding preachers, outlaws, and adventurers.”

Road marker along the parkway -- Photo by Pat Bean

 I felt like one of the latter when Maggie and I set foot on the remnants of that old footpath. It was if we were walking back in time. This section of the trail was closely hemmed in by trees whose limbs formed a roof above our heads. It was like walking through a tunnel, and the dim light that penetrated the ground brought to mind all those fairy tales that warned about being caught alone in the forest.

Back in my RV,  I followed the path of the Natchez Trace on my map all the way up to Nashville, but left it physically after only 28 miles. Driving the trace in its entirety is now on my bucket list.

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