Oh no! It’s almost April 1! #SOLC20 #SOL20

I’ve been so caught up in slicing, Schooling from Home-ing, and just putting one foot in front of the other each morning, that I completely forgot Wednesday is April 1st! As the 2020 SOLC comes to an end, National Poetry Month begins and that means another daily writing and sharing challenge. This time it will be a poem a day!

But what will my theme be this year? Two years ago, my first year participating, it was all things vernal pool-related. I had a blast with that theme, and I’m even retooling some of the poems I created that month so they might be published as a collection. Last year I teamed up with several Poetry Friday pals and we used “Playing with Poetry” as our theme, using tools such as Haiku and Metaphor Dice, magnetic poetry, paint chips, and nail polish colors for inspiration. This was hard, really hard. Much harder than we thought.

It finally came to me last evening in an a-ha moment, if you will. Thoreauly Inspired.  Each day during the month of April, I will write a poem inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I’ll leave my challenge open in that the poems may take any form (haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout) and who knows which direction they will go in.  I learned from the first year that wide open is better. I paid the price for not following that guidance last year.

Where did the idea come from? Two places. First, walking. Since our Covid Quarantine began, my husband and I have been taking walks daily, many of which are in Thoreau territory — the towns of Lincoln, Concord, and Sudbury, and along the Assabet, Concord, and Sudbury rivers. (Notice the absence of Walden Pond? It’s mobbed, so we are keeping our distance for now.) And second, volunteering for the nearby Walden Woods Project‘s Thoreau Animal Index Blitz last month. Working with other volunteers, both in person at the Project’s headquarters in Lincoln, Massachusetts and remotely, we combed through the pages of Thoreau’s magnificent journals looking for animal references. This new resource, when tidied up a bit, will be a goldmine of information for Thoreau scholars worldwide.

So there it is. Beginning April 1, #ThoreaulyInspired. We shall see what happens!

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Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here every Tuesday throughout the year and daily during the month of March. One more day!

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Hanging out with Thoreau #SOLC19

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photo credit: Walden.org website

Would I like to visit the historic 1906 Tudor-style headquarters of the Walden Woods Project at the Thoreau Institute? Sure!

Would I like to sit in front of a roaring fire in the massive walk-in fireplace that hasn’t been lit in over 20+ years? Um, OK!

Would I like to contribute to a project that will assist Thoreau scholars and environmentalists for years to come? Absolutely!

When the call went out a few weeks back for volunteers to help out with Walden Woods Project’s Animal Index Blitz, I couldn’t resist. While I have read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, I have not explored his extensive journals where he recorded everything — and I mean everything! — that he saw, heard, thought, experienced. I am a bit of a nature geek, fascinated with the world around me, so this sounded like a fun way to spend a couple of hours on Thursday afternoon/evening. And the fact that it took place just hours after our first significant snowfall of the season made it even better.

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photo credit: Christie Wyman

When I arrived at the Institute after school, the amazing fireplace in the former Higginson estate’s lobby greeted me. Don’t be fooled by the small size of the actual fire. The heat radiating out from this enormous hearth was intense! And our workspace for the Blitz? Massive leather club chairs gathered around in front of the fire. I actually worried that I might fall asleep because it was so relaxing. Fortunately I did not!

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The task given to volunteers was to scroll online through assigned 20-page sections of the journal and make note on a spreadsheet of any animals (including insects and birds) referred to in Thoreau’s text. This crowdsourced database will serve as a veritable goldmine of information for Thoreau scholars and environmentalists alike. After final collation, researchers will be able to search for any references to a particular creature rather than scanning thousands of pages for what they are looking for.

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Here’s a peek at a section of my spreadsheet entries.

For the next few hours I read, typed, laughed, puzzled, and learned alongside a handful of other engaged volunteers, all of which just happened to be educators, and helpful (and grateful) Institute staff. And the best news? The work isn’t finished, so we have the opportunity to return and do it all over again. Um, OK!

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Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day during the month of March. Happy Slicing!

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