On the Power of the (Written) Word

I was reminded today of the power of the written word.

On each Monday in the spring during the thru hiker season in SoCal, I update my blog and do my weekly read of The Journalist, the page on the PCTA site aggregating posts from PCT hiker blogs. I like to see both how hikers are perceiving “my” section of the trail, and how they are interpreting what I am doing at Walden. While pictures of my Little Free Library and hiker selfies with Henry and Walt are ubiquitous, I don’t get many hikers providing feedback on the value of the literature I leave for them to take. Of course, the Hiker Book Register tells me that literature is a big source of inspiration for hikers, and I have given away over a hundred copies of Walden and Whitman’s  “Song of Myself” — final stats later — but no hiker blog had mentioned the work they took and any value it had for them … until now.

One of the works that I give away is C. P. Cavafy’s brief work “Ithaka,” a hefty poem that fits on a half page and is labeled in my library as a work suitable for ultra-light hikers (that is, hikers who carry an absurdly small amount of camping gear with them in the hope that they never run into foul weather). This is a poem (and poet) I was only introduced to last year, when one of my friends donated a book of collected works on the topic of ‘journeys’ to my Little Free Library, based on a call for donations. I fell in love with the poem … and with the idea of connecting to thru hikers and their journey through it. So, here is the reference on Jubilant Blue’s blog. (Read through to the end of this post.)

Another activity that has got me thinking about the power of language is planning for the combo Summer Solstice/Thoreau Bicentennial celebration I will be holding in late June. (Ok, so Thoreau’s actual birthday is not until mid-July, but it is wicked hot in Anza in mid-July, so we will celebrate Thoreau’s birthday a bit early.) After two big events this spring centered around feeding large numbers of thru hikers, I am looking forward to something smaller, focused on connecting with friends and celebrating the written word.

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