Walden’s Gifts


For my birthday I took myself to Walden. I wanted her to be unmoving as steel, just as she had been the previous week. I wanted her icy veneer to be unyielding under my hand. But I found the wind and warmer temperatures had cut ripples into her, running toward me as I stood on the beach. She had broken free, defying winter’s chill.

I could not still myself even as I stood rooted on her sand. Years moving toward and away from me as I watched. So I walked. Slow heavy footsteps, each of my boots freeing itself from the earth as I moved forward with tremendous effort.

I thought of Jesi, fantasizing that I would get some sign from her, wanting her to gift me with her presence.
I thought of swimming. Only eight weeks or a lifetime since I had last been in Walden.
I thought of the impenetrable fist I beat on Walden a dozen years ago, when, desperate to break the ice, I had wanted to bathe in her all winter. A battle lost to the aging years. I had no desire to now.
Now I only wanted her steadfast presence to hold me.


I walked. I walked feeling the breath surge in my chest. I walked feeling my gluteal muscles tighten and my knee joints brace as I lifted my body. I walked until the wind stopped beating me and the water stopped racing toward me and instead, stood half hiding under a taut white sheet.

I walked searching for an apparition, for that visit from Jesi I dreamed about. But I walked in vain, enjoying only the air as clear and crisp as winter would have it and the tufts of moss as fresh and green as spring buds would be again, pushing up through the fine dusting of snow.


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