1958: Discovering Jamaica Pond

Today, March 1, 2018, was one more uncanny experience at Jamaica Pond as the Sun rose as a great golden ball sending beams of life across the waters.  Thinking back on January and February, my daily visits grasped me as experiences which have provided a new dimension of understanding, for myself and the world.

The idea of writing about each visit was a thought, but the time was not right for a number of reasons.  I needed a team to take daily writings and get them into a format to share.  Many people encouraged me to write about my days in Boston and beyond for many years.. Now seemed to be the time.  When my son Matthew told me he had a deal after I requested his getting the pictures to a stage where they could be developed.  Matt’s deal was that I would begin to write.  This is the beginning.  So Matt and my daughter Emily Olga are the team which will make this possible.

On these warm days of February, it does not seem possible that the first half of January had temperatures which averaged 8 degrees below normal.  The pond was frozen by mid January.  Since mid January the temperature has averaged about 7 degrees above normal.  The ice was gone during the third week of February.  The past two days, when the sun was rising above the horizon, each moment I felt the rays as a warm towel across my face.  Thinking back to when the temperature was 5 degrees below zero, the sun had no warming effect, but the wind felt as if my face would freeze.  Picture taking was a challenge.  However, something was gripping my spirit.  Something which I had not experienced before…

Sixty years ago, Jamaica Pond became my Walden Pond.  Thinking back to my being in Boston, after my two years at Cornell University working on a doctoral degree in Conservation, I remembered how Jamaica Pond was discovered during my first week at Boston University of Theology.  Such a strange path had brought me here.  In brief, Harold Case president of Boston University was the speaker at Sage Chapel and he participated in our after chapel coffee hour.  Perhaps another time a few details will be given as how I created the after chapel coffee as an answer for a question some graduate students had asked, How do you meet the girls (year 1956)?  The result was the coffee hour.  I asked each visiting preacher, “Is Huxley right in his book ‘Brave New World,  President Case began asking what I was doing, and when I told him I was working on a doctoral degree in conservation and planned on going to Law School at the suggestion of professors who thought this was the path to take to be an advocate for conservation.  Harold Case responded, “I think you care too much about people to go to Law School.”  I looked with Dr. Case with surprise at the suggestion, but said, “yes i do care about people.”

President Case replied,  “I think you should consider enrolling in Theology School at Boston University.”  My expression was on of bewilderment. Case responded, “I’m going to be here another 20 minutes, why don’t you think about it”  I went outside and looked out over Lake Cayuga.  My thought, “Boston, maybe that’s my place.  What do I have to lose by telling him so.”   So I told him and Dr. Case responded “Good, send me your transcripts to the President’s office and I will go to bat for you, ”  Four months later I drove my ’51 Chevy into Boston.

The first week I discovered Jamaica Pond.  Within a month I had been to Walden Pond.  Henry David Thoreau was a hero of mine, since the time I was 15 when my uncle gave me a copy of “”Walden.”  However, Walden Pond was outside the city.  Jamaica Pond was in the City and for many reasons and in many ways, for 60 years I have felt somewhat of a steward of the pond trough the seasons of the year.

Thoreau’s teachings have reached into my soul.  His simple message, “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.  is always a good thing to practice in a complex, confusing and conflicted world.  However, the words with which Thoreau closes his book is not so simple.   “I do not say that John or Johnathan will understand all this.  But such is the character and that morrow that mere lapse of time cannot make to pass. The light that puts our eyes is darkness to us.  There is more day to dawn.  The sun is but a morning star.”

These words flow through my being, standing by at the water’s edge or the frozen lake at “Sunrise Time.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. slheller@comcast.net says:

    It’s lovely to read your reflections about your passage into conservation as an expression of your love of people. Thank you for this moment of calm in the midst of chaos.

    Fondly, Sharl



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