The Simple Life

I walked in the house the other day, having just taken off my sweatshirt and shaken it vigorously. I’ve learned that if I’m working with firewood, it is best to leave as many bugs, bark patches, and clots of sawdust outside as possible. After 40+ years at it, I’m getting better at this.

Alice, on one of her rare sits on the couch during the day, asked me to sit down and listen to something. It was from John Burroughs’ book, “Leaf and Tendril:”

“I am bound to praise the simple life, because I have lived it and found it good. When I depart from it, evil results follow. I love a small house, plain clothes, simple living. Many persons know the luxury of a skin bath — a plunge in the pool or the wave unhampered by clothing. That is the simple life — direct and immediate contact with things, life with the false wrappings torn away — the fine house, the fine equipage, the expensive habits, all cut off. How free one feels, how good the elements taste, how close one gets to them, how they fit one’s body and one’s soul! To see the fire that warms you, or better yet, to cut the wood that feeds the fire that warms you; to see the spring where the water bubbles up that slakes your thirst, and to dip your pail into it; and the timbers that uphold the roof that shelters you; to be in direct and personal contact with the sources of your material life; to want no extras, no shields; to find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to find a quest of wild berries more satisfying than a gift of tropic fruit; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest, or over a wild flower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”

Leave a Reply