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Ed Matlack

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Member Since: Aug, 2003

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My Walden
By Ed Matlack
Thursday, August 14, 2003

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My Walden, not so much a physical or geographical place, but a state of mind.


"Thoreau once stated that we all have our own solitary places, our own places to go when the
world starts to close in on us, our own .. . .’Walden.’ He also stated that Walden is not so much a physical or geographical place, as it is a state of mind that exists within us all."

My Walden is a small clump of woods, beach, and sand dunes that border the Delaware Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is about one quarter mile wide and one mile long and is called Higbee’s Beach. I frequent it occasionally when in need of a quiet place to reflect on the problems of life. All it is, is trees on the one side and meadows on another and some small inland salt-water ponds. All it is, is PEACE!

I go there on weekdays, because on weekends, there is the intrusion of people. I prefer to go when I am the only one. Then, while I walk softly on the path, I feel it is my land, with the squirrels, birds, a turtle or two, harmless snakes, insects, and the breeze.

Beyond their sounds, the woods and dunes are silent. As I pass, even though I make little noise, Nature comes to a halt. It pauses to listen, wary and alert. The insect chorus drops. The birdcalls stop. The scurrying of the squirrels and other four footers ceases. I can almost feel the intensity of their little eyes and ears turned my way. I can’t see them but I know they are there, watching me, listening. Then, as I pass, behind me the sounds start up again. Having concluded I do not constitute a danger, the creatures of the woods take up their lives again. The chirps, whistles, rustlings, scurryings, and chitterings rise up to their normal crescendo, and all is right again with the natural world.

The sounds here are like a silence. As I walk, quietly so as not to intrude, the sounds melt into my consciousness and become part of the peace around me. The breeze is like a whisper through the trees. On occasional blustery days, when the air is like a sparkling wine in a crystal goblet, the wind in the trees, high up, is a kind of music. On still, hot summer afternoons, there is only a faint sleepy buzz. The loudest sound is the beat of my own heart.

I have a favorite log on which I sit. It is on top of a sand dune and overlooks the ocean and bay waters that border this special place of mine. It is under a canopy of tall pines. Up ahead is a small meadow that surrounds a little inland salt-water pond. Beyond that is the first line of trees with all sorts of vines, flowers, and mostly sticker bushes intermingling with the trees. It is like the interior of a jungle. But all the better, for people do not tread into areas they know nothing of. In that way it leaves me an area to explore and to be alone in. As I sit here, the world of man with its dirt and ugliness fades. The marketplace with its money-grubbing and cheap pettiness, falls away. No machine makes its obscene clatter.

No human trespasses here. Whether I am physically at this place or just imagining it, my own personal "WALDEN" leaves me in a state of serenity and security. I am alone with only the winds to whisper. The sounds of Nature around me are not sounds, but the voices of angels. 

copywrited *ed* 2003

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 7/24/2015
Back in those days I didn't get to read here very often because I was working and missed this gem. From what I'm reading I can tell you are well read because of the adjectives you are using to describe your surroundings, much better than I do.

As I read I couldn't help thinking about a place very similar to the one you are describing, the Aransas Wildlife Refuge with salt marshes and woodlands bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, the few times I went there I only drove through on the road, making short stops. The place is famous for saving the whooping crane.

More like you, my Walden was Brazos Bend State Park, a half hour drive from my home, but a light year away from suburbia. Like you, I would spend hours alone, just getting in touch with the wild creatures.

Since the stories all seem to have similar themes, it wouldn't be very difficult to bundle them all together into a book… A memoir of sorts. Think about it.

Reviewed by Michael Guy 8/29/2007
after reading your bio (i'm new at AD) which was highly entertaining in its own right--one (who doesn't know you) is surpirsied to find this "Thoreauean soul" in you. But the writing is so good and struck a chord with my own desires, that I'm now on my own quest to "'Cross this Sea of Madness" and fine my own Walden spot--especially as I'm been looking and reading Thoreau since I was 13 and hiking in the White Mountains. But seashores are my favorite (But the Devil may be from Kansas, but he's been to Florida (where I live) and is sure making a mess of it!) Can't find a lonely beach anymore. Great writing, will visit your site in the future. Cool vision of Life, man!
Reviewed by Pier Tyler 12/6/2006
Fantastic write. We all can use a "Walden" of our own choice. Especially when beaten up by this tough world. Serenity and security sounds good to me.
Reviewed by Joyce Devenish 10/18/2006
Dear Ed,
It is a long time since I've read Thoreau. Now I want to read him again or if I can't get Walden or Whats the one about the pond? I will start printing out all of your stuff. I'll check if you've published a book? Many thanks. Good luck Joyce D McInnes
Reviewed by Edgar Blythe 5/8/2006
Thoureau has long been a favorite of mine. Thanks for invoking his spirit in a fine little essay.
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 3/11/2006
A wonderful write! A great escape,
Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by John Mayer 1/23/2006
Thank you Ed for reminding me of my own "Waldens". My log in the Canadian forest, my spot on the beach in Cape Canaveral and my music (where I can disappear for hours). I need to visit them more often. Take care!
Reviewed by Bob Holt 4/10/2005
I like this a lot, Ed. There are no Waldens in Mantua. Even the unusual people need their own space.

Bob H
Reviewed by L. Figgins 4/5/2005
This is a beauty of a write, Ed. Thank you for taking me to your world. It sounds like heaven...
Reviewed by John Lindermuth 12/31/2004
I, too, have such a place and can relate to this piece. And, I think Henry David would approve as well.
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 7/2/2004
Ed, I've been meaning to read this piece for a very long time, and I'm really glad I finally did. This is marvelous! I told you Nature writes were one of your strong suits, and this one is great.

I've got a similar Waldon up in the great northwoods, on a tiny uninhabited lake, and unfortunately, I don't get up there nearlys as often as I'd like to.

But yours sounds fairly close to your home, and I bet with your current situation, it would be a marvelous place to contemplate, and to get over your blues.

Don't ever stop writing about Nature!!
Reviewed by David Anthony 6/1/2004
It reminds me of my secret place.....well penned.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/25/2004
i like this
Reviewed by Carol Chapman 1/30/2004
"As I pass, even though I make little noise, Nature comes to a halt. It pauses to listen, wary and alert." You have reached into that deep, secret, part of me and mirrored my secret yearnings for peace to me. And the beauty of your writing is such that the mirror you offer anyone who reads this would display their own "Walden" to them.

Thank you for quieting the silence enough for me to hear, to feel, to enjoy.

Reviewed by Dan Summerfield 1/30/2004

Except for the salt water you have described my solitary place in the National forests of Michigan. Most often I pretend I'm hunting but that's not the real reason I go there. To think, to listen, to meditate on what I'm hearing. Glad you have a similar spot.

Dan S.
Reviewed by Tami Ryan 12/27/2003
I had forgotten that about Thoreau. This reminds me of my "Walden", a place by the river where I go to be alone; it's also where I do my thinking.
I enjoyed this much; it brought quiet peace within. This is very well written, and I'll be back soon to read more of you.

Thank you,
Reviewed by Robert Montesino 11/12/2003
Oh! How I need to find a place like this again Ed! Great write, thanks for sharing it!

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