A suburban father marches to the beat of Henry David Thoreau.
After rereading Walden in middle age, Fate (English/Coll. of DuPage; Steady & Trembling: Art, Faith, & Family in an Uncertain World, 2005, etc.) emulated his literary hero by building a cabin in the wilds of southwest Michigan. He then began the search for balance and a closer connection to nature, which he recounts in these delightful personal essays. A father of three in suburban Chicago, Fate could not isolate himself in his cabin like the hermetic Thoreau. So he conducted his quest while fully engaged with the daily rounds of life in a high-tech, material culture. Inspired by awareness of the most ordinary things—a backyard bird feeder, a bowl of lake glass, the death of the family cat—each essay explores some aspect of human experience, following Thoreau’s “invitation to a new kind of vision, to the joy of enough in a culture of more, to a deliberate life.” The author watches children lost in play and wonders when he lost his own faith in the present moment. Taking a cue from “Mr. Self-Reliance,” he attempts to trim the elm trees on his property, fails miserably, and realizes that Thoreau’s barebones way of living clearly “isn’t nearly enough for me.” With each foray into the workaday world, Fate comes closer to understanding how he might achieve balance in his hectic modern life.
Quiet, beautifully written reflections on nature and the mindful life, laced with the thoughts and writings of Thoreau.