A transcendentalist embraces the world differently than a materialist does. We often are sillier, more engaged with nature, and find joy and equanimity where others might find misery. I was walking around Walden Pond one cold day last month, where we had had several days of bitterly cold weather already, without any snow or other disturbance of the pond’s surface. I discovered the ice was several feet thick and as clear as glass, walking on it I could look down six or eight feet through the ice to the clear pond bottom below me. Further out onto the pond it was like looking down into the abyss of the deep.
This brought to mind Ralph Waldo Emerson’s seasonal transcendence walking Walden Pond. In many of his winter journal entries he wrote about embracing icy cold winter days. In one he wrote, “Pleasant walk yesterday, the most pleasant of days. At Walden pond, I found an instrument which I call the ice-harp. A thin coat of ice covered a part of the pond but melted around the edge of the shore. I threw a stone upon the ice which rebounded with a shrill sound, and falling again and again, repeated the note with pleasing modulation… I was so taken with the sound that I threw down my stick and spent twenty minutes in throwing stones singly or in handfuls on this crystal drum.” So, I decided to try it.
Skipping stones across the thick ice generated a very satisfying sound. I began to play. Generating music somewhat more resonant and deeper but akin to Henry David Thoreau’s summer wind harp. This is seasonal transcendence. Looking further across the pond I watched the ice fishermen adjusting their lines for their winter catch. Then a couple of ice skaters came whizzing across the pond much as Henry David was wont to do. I became enraptured. Here was my transcendental paradise. Concord’s form of transcendental meditation is deeply connected to the seasons of nature and discovering our wildness.