Probably because I read Walden when I was in eighth grade and also because I'm just vain that way, I've always regarded myself as one of Thoreau's true disciples, although the only really Thoreau-like thing I've ever done I did a long, long time ago, when I hiked up the Cape, from Eastham to Provincetown, following what I thought was the route he took and described in Cape Cod. At any rate, especially when I'm down here, I often kid myself that I'm a crank after his own heart, and I wander about with my notebook and guide books, taking pride in knowing the difference between dusty miller and common saltwort, between rockweed and Irish moss, and between a sanderling and a spotted sandpiper and planning a book, or at least a blog post, that in true Thoreauvian fashion will make the same brilliant connections between the natural world and the proper spiritual life.
Thoreau was a blogger, but you knew that.
This morning as I hiked back from the beach, full of deep thoughts inspired by meditation on the life of a moon snail and disgust at George W. Bush's plan to deal with high gas prices by feeding the oil addiction he once proposed breaking the nation of, I was working out in my head a rant on thrift.
I had a good one all outlined, my basic point being that with a little simplification of our prodigal lives we could give ourselves an extended gas tax holiday and help cut the cost at the pump, or at least save ourselves a lot of money, with more immediate and effective results than Bush's plan to let his pals in the oil industry drill holes all over the place.
Thrift, I said. Thrift is the answer. If only we'd all---
Then I remembered I've got no business lecturing anyone else on thrift. I'm not a philosopher, I'm a tourist, I reminded myself, on Cape Cod for a two week vacation, out for a morning stroll with a cell phone in my pocket and an expensive digital camera slung over my shoulder, on my way to pay over two bucks for what's essentially a glorified cup of Maxwell House.
Simplify your own life, you hack, I lectured myself, sounding in my head just as cranky and disagreeable as Thoreau used to sound to his neighbors in Concord.
Self-chastened, I came to a decision.
Ok, I said, so I'll waste the two dollars on a cup of coffee, but doggone it! I'm not going to buy a muffin!
And I didn't.
They're good muffins though.
The cranberry muffins, in particular.
Time for another walk.