EVER WONDERED OUT IN NATURE? (Or How Deep is Walden’s Pond?) By John Watts



Ever wondered out in nature?  Ever marveled at the privilege of just being able to wander out in nature at all?

I do.  All the time as matter of fact.  It seems wired into my DNA as a teacher and writer.  And it seems to make up a large part of that one guiding force that truly seems to direct my steps about working in a classroom.

And the wonder of it all can be quite freeing.  In fact it spawns never ending, thematic ideas and constructs in my mind to play with and store forever.

And it has nothing to do with becoming intelligent or “ARRIVING” at some IQ plateau.  In fact every fiber of my being craves for opposite.  What I live for is the state of curiosity itself.  And the delight at asking or stating something recently learned as a bridge to sharing with others, with no fear of being shown up.

It seems the more answers I get from some robot voiced app like the Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri, the more it inclines me want to follow it up with new questions.

It’s all about edification and communing.  Without the need for scientific explanation.

Ever wondered how a duck can swim so enjoyably in the middle of winter in an ice cold lake without his lower region freezing off?  The thoughts cross my mind, and although I like to learn new things every day, I also am content to remain in a curious state without ever hearing a scientific explanation to fill in all the blanks.  Besides I tend to forget many of the facts anyway.  Come to think of it, I don’t mind if I stay forever at an INTRODUCTORY LEVEL and never graduate to the next level.

I don’t want to ever feel so sophisticated that I lose the appreciation and thrill of pausing and doing a double take at some overlook view or close up tree that I am passing.  Of course if we are wise we can have the best of both worlds.  We can reverently pass a duck pond and our brain can click on and tell us, There is a special gland that produces oil near the duck’s tail which spreads and covers the outer coat of the duck’s feathers, making it water-proof. Beneath the water-proof coat are fluffy and soft feathers to keep these gorgeous ducks warm.”

The main point of course is that we need to retain our ability to see the world with a childlike wonder.  We should never lose the wonder of seeing around the next bend in a river or seeing a Blue Heron take flight with a prehistoric screech.

All this reminds me of a cool passage I stumbled upon recently in Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden.”

In this passage Thoreau describes wanting to find the long lost bottom of Walden’s pond.  “There have been many stories about the bottom, or rather, no bottom, of this pond, which certainly had no foundation for themselves.  Many have believed that Walden reaches quite through to the other side of the globe.  But I can assure my readers that Walden has a reasonably tight bottom at an unusual, depth.  I fathomed it easily with a cod-line and a stone weighing about a pound a half, and could tell accurately when the stone left the bottom, by having to pull so much harder before the water got underneath to help me.

Its deepest section was exactly one hundred and seven feet.  This is a remarkable depth for so small an area; yet not an inch of it can be spared by the imagination.  What if all ponds were shallow?  Would it not react on the minds of men?  I am thankful that this pond was made deep and pure for a symbol.  While men believe in the infinite some ponds will be thought to be bottomless.”

This affords me the perfect segue way for closing this little essay.  My wish for all of us is that our passion and interest in all of our surroundings remains as BOTTOMLESS as Walden Pond and then some.

May we cease needing to measure it and quantify it.  This would apply to the size and scope and function of all those mysteries of life that captivate us, as well as the actual walking distance that our feet accrue.

Let’s instead, leave our fit bits and i Phones at home so as to keep the details and facts open for interpretation!




About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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