When we took the highway from Tampa to Atlanta we could pass through the interior Florida and Georgia states. I have always thought that the real selfhood of a country especially its Geographical identity lies with its upcountry villages and its littoral rural spaces too are exploration worthy for this purpose though not as much as the former . Usually a visitor from overseas can rarely come by such Arcadian experiences unless that person is studiedly venturesome .
As we sped our way to Atlanta along the freeway the sight on both sides of the road was enabling in that we actually were being naturally exposed to the luxuriant pristine vegetative cover of America interspersed with green grassy spaces which at certain points stretched to the infinitude of the country side .We could also catch sight of the certain waterbodies sparkling in the sun much far afield .America is a beautiful country with its munificent endowments of sylvan charm which at the hands of the impeccable spirit of conservation of the American people enjoys sustainability of a rare sort .This is a rare scenario if it is put into perspective the scale of eco degradation that plagues the countries in the third world .
At a certain point in our freeway motoring we met up with a roadblock which occasioned taking a detour and the road that we drove through was by no means an arterial highway but a road which went with the description of a country road .This journey took us through further real village eco – system and the visibility of which was unhampered by embankments which stood in precipitous relief nor the road flanked with the usual cumbersome fencing quite unlike the case with the highway transit .The real beauty of the American countryside unfolded in real time .It was virtual wooded lands on both sides and in some parts they flowered profusely and not a soul was spotted Enroute and only some minor human settlements punctured the vastness of the thickly forested territory .
The apostles of American conservationism could be Thoreau and Emerson . When these two names reared their heads in a casual talk with Unnikkuttan it put me in the mind of my PG English classes .Though my familiarity with them was just above rudimentary I felt a strong urge to visit their places since they weren’t far away at all .It was high noon when we drove to Concord to seek out Walden and we hit the place after just some 40 minutes or so .Walden was a thickly wooded land but there were roads that ran through its pleasantly shady Bowles .In the midst of this forest there located the spacious parking space of the facility .This place never marred the beauty of the forest as utility was happily married with strict conservation norms .In the wake of an effortless parking we de -cared to saunter leisurely into the forested territories’s deeper reaches .Though it was scorching heat the thick leafy canopy guarded the park goers against direct exposure to the harsh sun and the resultant deep exhaustion .
As it was a Sunday there were many visitors who belonged to all age groups and a few were of visibly overseas nationalities as well .All the visitors appeared serious in matter of their intention to visit Walden and they never behaved in a slipshod and merry holiday making attitude .
Henry David Thoreau was an American essayist ,Poet ,Philosopher , Naturalist ,Tax resister ,Developmental critic and Historian .He wrote a book called Walden which was a reflection on simple living in natural surroundings and his essay “Civil Disobedience “ was a call to disobey the dictates of unjust Governments especially those which presided over such extreme retrograde system of slavery
.Thoreau was a pioneering eco enthusiast who stood against developmentalism at the expense of eco health and sustainability . Dubbed unjustly an anarchist Tolstoy ,Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King junior took sustenance from his idea of civil disobedience to replicate it in their spheres of activity. Thoreau wanted to pen his debut work but failed to find a peaceful space to do it in .His father’s pencil making factory right in their homestead itself was a great source of distraction .In late 1845 Thoreau shifted his residence to a very quaint place of Walden pond .Walden was a pretty large waterbody right in the midst of a very thick wooded estate .He built a spartan cabin in the woods close to the pond which was furnished with the bare minimum of self hewn and rough furniture items . He wanted to assert that happiness was associated with the rudimentary and never with opulence .It was a part of his experimenting with his truth of small was beautiful .He also explored the heavily vegetated natural territory to imbibe its beauty and to strike frequency with the deserted eco system which thrived with its biodiversity unmarred by human interference of any sort .
Though the original cabin had been long lost we the visitors could frequent a much faithfully bootlegged one which boasted items of household articles which commanded extreme fidelity to the prototype .A heavy bronze statue of Thoreau graced the courtyard of the cabin and true to the philosopher ‘s idea of egalitarianism it never stood on a looming pedestal but was literally planted on an equal footing with his visiting cheerleading public .Thoreau lived there for two years and wrote exponentially including his opus “Walden”.He believed that it was quite possible for humans to lead a life of their very personal specifications if seriously and purposefully attempted .He exited walden pond because the philosopher believed that he had many more lives to live .
Thoreau was a transcendentalist and like his Guru Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that all human virtues took their origin in human ‘s individual self and collectivism of any nature in any human affairs including politics ,Government etc would be sources of corrupt influences.We visited a Museum like facility in the park and the reference therein to the name of Mahatma Gandhi as one of Thoreau ‘s much celebrated global followers enthralled us .The intra and extra mural illustrations and scribbles (some glass cased) along the Thoreau trail informed and enervated us in equal measure .Then we four climbed down to the pond front .We saw many people taking bath in the pond and post -bath some people took to snacking and gulping some beverages and the drink items could not be alcoholic for sure .Unnikkuttan and myself were in a mood to trek but Sree and Suju were little inclined to buy into our idea so circumventing Walden ended up a non starter .As we hit the exact noontide the mercury registered a steep upward spiral .We retraced our step back into our car in slight hurry and drove out .If an reader wondered how a development hostile and anachronism smacking Thoreau could catch the imagination of the American public and the Government over such a long period and spanning several generations, a concerned writer is to add a rider as a demystification exercise . The Government of America had to have a special grouse against Thoreau because of his espousal of the line of thinking which verged on the anarchical .Thoreau was against mindless destruction of eco system to make way for development but he didn’t turn his back on development in complete , his advocacy was for moderation and responsible developmental paradigm and besides he wasn’t a luddite by all means .When it came to governance he always stood for its maximum rollback but absolute jettisoning of the system wasn’t his idea at all .
On the way back home we ran into the house of Emerson who mentored Thoreau and the former owned the Walden pond and the surrounding woods .He was a transcendentalist and a staunch abolitionist .Once Emerson was attending a liturgical function in a Florida church .But he couldn’t concentrate and at the very same time the other worshippers and the clergy went about their prayerful acts in un distracted peace .The raucous din just emanating from the church courtyard in front wrecked his peace .He exited in silence to enquire about the matter .What he saw there was a slave trading fare in hectic progress and auctioneering was underway in full throated blast .His disbelief wasn’t because of the proximity of the locales of these two activities but it had more to do with that none there nor anywhere else thought for a moment that trading in slaves was unchristianly at all. This very personal encounter with the practice of slave trade made him a hard abolitionist to his last breath and throughout his life he fought against it tooth and nail .His house was a moderately big two storied wooden house .Its visiting time had ended and so it stood in its closed facade .Though a busy road ran in front of it its surrounding fenced in area it had little human presence .Thick blanket of green grass had an unsparing coverage of the glades that flanked the house and beyond their untreed spaces the dense vegetation of tall trees ,long winding and hanging creepers thereon , tight packed undergrowth appeared primeval and staunchly forbidding . The Punjabi grill that we made it to as we drove further back home wasn’t blameworthy in respect of the quality of the eats and the restaurant service .But the dress of the serving personnels was careless to the point of perpetrating a national shame .It wasn’t shabby nor it stank but they were no reasons for consolation .