Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I've been reading Walden and appreciating it much more than I did when I was in High School. I pointed out the bit below to Bill because it reminded me of one of his favorite Heinlein quotes:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

While Heinlein said it logically, practically and succinctly (which appeals to Bill), I prefer Thoreau's poetry. This here is why chopping wood, clipping turkey wings, laying tile and generally living in a beat up old house that needs lots of work is appealing and fun for me.

There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas! We do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveler with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter? What does architecture amount to in the experience of the mass of men? I never in all my walks came across a man engaged in so simple and natural an occupation as building his house. We belong to the community. It is not the tailor alone who is the ninth part of a man; it is as much the preachers, and the merchant, and the farmer. Where shall the division of labor end? And what object does it finally serve? No doubt another may also think for me; but it is not therefore desirable that he should do so to the exclusion of my thinking for myself.

Every time I read it, I love it a little bit more.

Photos of stuff we - mostly Bill - built for birds soon...

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