A Writer of a Certain Age

July 29, 2012 at 10:05 am (By Amba)

This quote came along at just the right moment.

Trees have commonly two growths in the year, a spring and a fall growth, the latter sometimes equaling the former, and you can see where the first was checked whether by cold or drouth, and wonder what there was in the summer to produce this check, this blight. So it is with man; most have a spring growth only, and never get over this first check to their youthful hopes, but plants of hardier constitution, or perchance planted in a more genial soil, speedily recover themselves, and, though they bear the scar or knot in remembrance of their disappointment, they push forward again and have a vigorous fall growth which is equivalent to a new spring. These two growths are now visible on the oak sprouts, the second already nearly equaling the first.

~ Henry David Thoreau, Journal (or “Blog Post”), July 14, 1852

Thoreau was 35 years old, the same “midlife” when Dante said he was lost in a dark wood.  I daresay we’ve pushed it back some.


  1. mockturtle said,

    From my pulp and paper chemistry days, I seem to remember it is now called ‘springwood’ and ‘summerwood’ but the metaphorical principals still apply. I wonder which of his ‘growth periods’ Thoreau would have considered fall [or summer] wood. Like most writers, he was always on the brink of self-discovery.

  2. mockturtle said,

    Principles. Geez. :-(

  3. Melinda said,

    The difference between spring and fall for me is that now I don’t have “I have to sell a screenplay so I can quit my horrible secretarial job!” wood.

  4. mockturtle said,

    There are also heartwood and sapwood—but that would demand a whole ‘nother analogy, I guess.

  5. A said,

    ” I daresay we’ve pushed it back some.” Hope so… Makes me think I should plant some different trees here to counter the bad examples set by the resident Siberian elms and Monterey cypresses…

  6. mockturtle said,

    “There’s nothing you can do during those times but keep on going, in the hope that eventually a glimmer of light, a signpost, or a guide will appear. As Dante’s own guide, the ghost of the Classical poet Virgil, told him, “The way out is the way through.”
    That is really excellent! It exemplifies my life right now and offers hope.

    The tricky part is, you have to live in the Dark Wood and the real world simultaneously. What you’re doing may never have seemed so futile or nonsensical, yet it has never been more important that you do it.

  7. mockturtle said,

    I’m sorry I messed up my quotes–it obviously should have included that last paragraph. Arrghh! This is what happens when one is lost in the Dark Wood. ;-)

  8. kngfish said,

    Dante, Dante…Isn’t it the odd the director of Gremlins keeps making such a strong impression! I mean…the film was alright…sorta cute…but, really, such a fuss!

    Abandoning Hope and Change for all who enter here…. KngFish

  9. mockturtle said,

    As Solomon said, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’. I guess one reason I love history and classical literature so much is finding that mankind has always wrestled with the same paradoxes and problems that beset us today and somehow managed to survive them. The conceit of our age is the illusion of intellectual progress. Information is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom. To me, the Renaissance thinkers and artists represent the peak of mankind’s efforts to understand the universe and the potential of those who dwell on earth.

  10. karen said,

    I’ve missed the posts of late– your 2pence worth of thought leaves my parched ground sated, for now.

    I think of pruning– not just the injuries induced by chance, or by something more sinister, but the intentional cutting off of valuable limbs that are really so much dead wood. To be able to self-prune and to understand why, i think that must be a discipline(sp,’cause that word looks totally off to me)that takes time to master.

    Tonight, when i share my husband’s Mic Light, i promise to raise a bottle in good cheer for the future of good wood:0). Esp that of Autumn!!

    ps– speaking of Autumn(my 1st daughter’s name)- she’s reading 50Shades of Grey and is pretty enamoured w/it. It’s messed up, she says, but fascinating to read. My Mom has a Kindle and for some reason every book she gets from it is one she hasn’t meant to order– so, you guessed it: she’s read 50Shades of Grey.

    Is it any good, do you know? You = All, btw.

    pps– i really miss Randy and keep him in my prayers– where/ever he is.

  11. amba12 said,

    I don’t have any desire to read 50 Shades of Grey. Dominance and submission has no charge for me.

    Yes, Randy is my heart, too.

    By the way, you spelled “discipline” flawlessly. It’s English that’s totally off.


  12. karen said,


    I’m wondering if almost 21 is too young to even understand the concept– especially the pain of being physically dominated(i am assuming there is pain). I saw a CSI episode on S-n-M that was informative… i guess. I hope it doesn’t give HER too much of a charge- she is a very different almost 21 than i was… i akin it to the Choking game, where kids choke the life outta e/other for shits and giggles– the adrenaline on both sides of the choke hold must be such a rush(blech).

    O/T- still feel warm and fuzzy toward Obama, amba?

  13. amba12 said,

    I played a variation on the “choking” game in junior high in Florida — we’d take deep breaths then hold our breath while the other girl squeezed us around the chest. It was an altered-state-of-consciousness thing, like spinning around. You’d almost black out.

    I never did feel warm and fuzzy towards Obama — or any politician — I’m just so turned off by the degree of hatred and paranoia toward him (he’s just a guy, and an American guy at that) that I considered voting for him to defy it. All of politics is a sickness as far as I’m concerned. My real inclination is not to vote.

  14. Melinda said,

    As I was reading about the “choking” game, Frankie Five Angels was getting garrotted on “Godfather II.”

  15. mockturtle said,

    As I was reading about the “choking” game, Frankie Five Angels was getting garrotted on “Godfather II.” :-D

    Choking isn’t my idea of fun, but, hey, what do I know? :-\

  16. kngfish said,

    “Luca Brasi Sleeps With The Fishes”

  17. mockturtle said,

    The Godfather…truly, one of the best films ever made.

  18. amba (Annie Gottlieb) said,

    One of J’s favorites . . . he never got tired of watching it.

  19. karen said,

    :0(. i just lost my comment.

    I was wondering if anyone here has heard of the shenanigans going on up here in the Kingdom concerning a fella we know- fairly well. He’s the one that got overly frustrated and took his Dad’s tractor- and drove it over about 7 sheriffs’ cars, crushing the shit out of them?

    Google ~Roger the Magnificent~… how sad that a man no one thought very highly of is now a very loudly sung hero to so many that are ecstatic over his criminal actions.

    Was he wrong? Yes. Was it funny as hell? Only because of the circumstances– no one was hurt, no one was killed, he was getting an original revenge. He will enter his plea today.

    Truth is, he isn’t balanced and his Dad is so upset and hurt over this whole thing. Roger needs help, he needs a diagnosis that can be treated effectively with the correct meds. I’m not sure what angle the lawyer will use, i can’t imagine even more of a circus than what’s up, now- but, it is an unreal thing to have happened.

  20. Icepick said,

    Was it funny as hell?

    Come on, this is basically every Smokey and the Bandit movie!

  21. karen said,

    nope, ice… More like Monster truck mashes. He shove 7 vehicles in a line and ran over the tops of them– the sheriffs’ never came out of the building.

    Idk, i feel badly for his folks- and i feel he is a target of something akin to being bullied.

  22. chickelit said,


    Are you feeling enlightened or just warm? I’m guessing that the two growth spurts are caused by springtime photosynthesis and then by lagging thermal growth (doubling for every ten degrees C).

    Please be gentle when you shoot my theory down.

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