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» Thoreau The Flute Player, on his 200th birthday

Utah Chris   


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Post #1

Henry David Thoreau owned and played a flute originally owned by his brother John who died of tubuculosis. He would often take the flute out in the evening and play from his canoe as the sun went down. This is a description of one of those days, from a memoir by Frederick Willis of a July day in 1847, reprinted in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer, Yale U.Press 2004, pp. 148-49:

“He was talking to Mr. Alcott of the wild flowers in Walden woods when, suddenly stopping, he said: ‘Keep very still and I will show you my family.’ Stepping quickly outside the cabin door, he gave a low and curious whistle; immediately a woodchuck came running towards him from a nearby burrow. With varying note, yet still low and strange, a pair of gray squirrels were summoned and approached him fearlessly. With still another note several birds, including two crows, flew towards him, one of the crows nestling upon his shoulder. I remember it was the crow resting close to his head that made the most vivid impression upon me, knowing how fearful of man this bird is. He fed them all from his hand, taking food from his pocket, and petted them gently before our delighted gaze; and then dismissed them by a different whistling, always strange and low and short, each little wild thing departing instantly at hearing its special signal.
Then he took us five children upon the Pond in his boat, ceasing his oars after a little distance from the shore and playing the flute he had brought with him, its music echoing over the still and beautifully clear water. He suddenly laid the flute down and told us stories of the Indians that ‘long ago’ had lived about Walden and Concord; delighting us with simple, clear explanations of the wonders of Walden woods. Again he interrupted himself suddenly, speaking of the various kinds of lilies growing about Walden and calling the wood lilies, stately wild things. It was pond lily time and from the boat we gathered quantities of their pure white flowers and buds; upon our return to the shore he helped us gather other flowers and laden with many sweet blossoms we wended our way homewards rejoicingly.


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tootieflutie58   


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Post #2

QUOTE(Utah Chris @ Jul 12 2017, 02:17 PM) *
Henry David Thoreau owned and played a flute originally owned by his brother John who died of tubuculosis. He would often take the flute out in the evening and play from his canoe as the sun went down. This is a description of one of those days, from a memoir by Frederick Willis of a July day in 1847, reprinted in Henry David Thoreau's Walden, ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer, Yale U.Press 2004, pp. 148-49:

"He was talking to Mr. Alcott of the wild flowers in Walden woods when, suddenly stopping, he said: 'Keep very still and I will show you my family.' Stepping quickly outside the cabin door, he gave a low and curious whistle; immediately a woodchuck came running towards him from a nearby burrow. With varying note, yet still low and strange, a pair of gray squirrels were summoned and approached him fearlessly. With still another note several birds, including two crows, flew towards him, one of the crows nestling upon his shoulder. I remember it was the crow resting close to his head that made the most vivid impression upon me, knowing how fearful of man this bird is. He fed them all from his hand, taking food from his pocket, and petted them gently before our delighted gaze; and then dismissed them by a different whistling, always strange and low and short, each little wild thing departing instantly at hearing its special signal.
Then he took us five children upon the Pond in his boat, ceasing his oars after a little distance from the shore and playing the flute he had brought with him, its music echoing over the still and beautifully clear water. He suddenly laid the flute down and told us stories of the Indians that 'long ago' had lived about Walden and Concord; delighting us with simple, clear explanations of the wonders of Walden woods. Again he interrupted himself suddenly, speaking of the various kinds of lilies growing about Walden and calling the wood lilies, stately wild things. It was pond lily time and from the boat we gathered quantities of their pure white flowers and buds; upon our return to the shore he helped us gather other flowers and laden with many sweet blossoms we wended our way homewards rejoicingly.


This is beautiful! Thanks for posting it!


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Keith Glowka   


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Post #3

Lovely story, Chris! It reminded me of a visit my wife and I had from our friend, Gentle Thunder. She spent a couple of days with us here at our home at Lake LBJ. On the morning she was departing, she walked down to the edge of the lake and began playing one of her flutes. We could hear her from the house and quietly walked down to listen without disturbing her moment.

What we saw when we got down there brought a smile. Birds were lighting on the shoals, fish were jumping, and turtles were crawling out onto the big rocks in the lake. Now, these are all things that happen out here, but to see so much of it at once!?..we're convinced that Gentle Thunder's peaceful tones had something to do with that. rolleyes.gif


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Utah Chris   


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Post #4

I met Gentle Thunder once at a flute festival. A very good soul. I think many of us have experienced wildlife responding to our flute music, although the creatures might not respond as they did for Thoreau. Below is a picture of Thoreau's flute from the site Chiff and Fipple (sorry but I do not have the photographer's name).

QUOTE(Keith Glowka @ Jul 12 2017, 11:57 AM) *
Lovely story, Chris! It reminded me of a visit my wife and I had from our friend, Gentle Thunder. She spent a couple of days with us here at our home at Lake LBJ. On the morning she was departing, she walked down to the edge of the lake and began playing one of her flutes. We could hear her from the house and quietly walked down to listen without disturbing her moment.

What we saw when we got down there brought a smile. Birds were lighting on the shoals, fish were jumping, and turtles were crawling out onto the big rocks in the lake. Now, these are all things that happen out here, but to see so much of it at once!?..we're convinced that Gentle Thunder's peaceful tones had something to do with that. rolleyes.gif


This post has been edited by Utah Chris: Jul 12 2017, 03:11 PM
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Roberta   


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Post #5

QUOTE(Utah Chris @ Jul 12 2017, 10:17 AM) *
Henry David Thoreau owned and played a flute originally owned by his brother John who died of tubuculosis. He would often take the flute out in the evening and play from his canoe as the sun went down. This is a description of one of those days, from a memoir by Frederick Willis of a July day in 1847, reprinted in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer, Yale U.Press 2004, pp. 148-49:

“He was talking to Mr. Alcott of the wild flowers in Walden woods when, suddenly stopping, he said: ‘Keep very still and I will show you my family.’ Stepping quickly outside the cabin door, he gave a low and curious whistle; immediately a woodchuck came running towards him from a nearby burrow. With varying note, yet still low and strange, a pair of gray squirrels were summoned and approached him fearlessly. With still another note several birds, including two crows, flew towards him, one of the crows nestling upon his shoulder. I remember it was the crow resting close to his head that made the most vivid impression upon me, knowing how fearful of man this bird is. He fed them all from his hand, taking food from his pocket, and petted them gently before our delighted gaze; and then dismissed them by a different whistling, always strange and low and short, each little wild thing departing instantly at hearing its special signal.
Then he took us five children upon the Pond in his boat, ceasing his oars after a little distance from the shore and playing the flute he had brought with him, its music echoing over the still and beautifully clear water. He suddenly laid the flute down and told us stories of the Indians that ‘long ago’ had lived about Walden and Concord; delighting us with simple, clear explanations of the wonders of Walden woods. Again he interrupted himself suddenly, speaking of the various kinds of lilies growing about Walden and calling the wood lilies, stately wild things. It was pond lily time and from the boat we gathered quantities of their pure white flowers and buds; upon our return to the shore he helped us gather other flowers and laden with many sweet blossoms we wended our way homewards rejoicingly.


What a beautiful story with which to start my day. Thank you!


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shewhoflutesinca...   


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Post #6

I'm feeling deja vu re this thread??? But, yes, I love that story, thank you, Chris! smile.gif

I'm always excited when the wallabies strain their ears more seriously, and look at me with greater interest than usual. My favourite was when I was fluting to the whales from my cave by the ocean... I felt a presence, and looked around... there was a Crow hanging upside down from the rock face just peering at me intently. I played on, he peered on, and then at some point flew away... but I didn't notice his parting as I was back in the zone smile.gif


Henry David Thoreau knew stuff!!! biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by shewhoflutesincaves: Jul 15 2017, 03:02 PM


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Utah Chris   


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Post #7

Thanks, all. I may have posted this material before, but it's Thoreau's birthday year so he needed a shout-out. He knew so much. I tried reading "Wild Fruits" which was his last book in manuscript formand filled with details about local botany, but the sheer overwhelming detail got to me. He had a unique mind; part scientist, part political activist, part dreamer, part entrepreneur, part prude (he was shocked by Walt Whitman's living conditions in Manhattan), part free spirit. Not to mention part flute player.

QUOTE(shewhoflutesincaves @ Jul 15 2017, 03:01 PM) *
I'm feeling deja vu re this thread??? But, yes, I love that story, thank you, Chris! smile.gif

I'm always excited when the wallabies strain their ears more seriously, and look at me with greater interest than usual. My favourite was when I was fluting to the whales from my cave by the ocean... I felt a presence, and looked around... there was a Crow hanging upside down from the rock face just peering at me intently. I played on, he peered on, and then at some point flew away... but I didn't notice his parting as I was back in the zone smile.gif


Henry David Thoreau knew stuff!!! biggrin.gif



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shewhoflutesinca...   


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Post #8

QUOTE(Utah Chris @ Jul 16 2017, 08:37 AM) *
Thanks, all. I may have posted this material before, but it's Thoreau's birthday year so he needed a shout-out. He knew so much. I tried reading "Wild Fruits" which was his last book in manuscript formand filled with details about local botany, but the sheer overwhelming detail got to me. He had a unique mind; part scientist, part political activist, part dreamer, part entrepreneur, part prude (he was shocked by Walt Whitman's living conditions in Manhattan), part free spirit. Not to mention part flute player.
Yeah.... he knew stuff!!!!!! biggrin.gif I'm actually really grateful that you reposted it, as it was very familiar, but it was great to reread it all.

Thank you for shouting-out biggrin.gif


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tootieflutie58   


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Post #9

I'm glad you posted it, too, because I don't ever remember reading this! Thanks, Chris!


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shewhoflutesinca...   


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Post #10

QUOTE(tootieflutie58 @ Jul 17 2017, 07:58 AM) *
I'm glad you posted it, too, because I don't ever remember reading this! Thanks, Chris!
Now that I think about it (sorry Chris biggrin.gif), it may have been posted on a completely different forum... The only other one I was on back then smile.gif


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Utah Chris   


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Post #11

No problem. One cannot get enough of Thoreau. I reread Walden on a regular basis and it still seems fresh.

QUOTE(shewhoflutesincaves @ Jul 19 2017, 05:45 PM) *
Now that I think about it (sorry Chris biggrin.gif), it may have been posted on a completely different forum... The only other one I was on back then smile.gif



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Walden Tao   


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Post #12

Beautiful thread !
It's the first time i see Thoreau's flute

Do you know what sort of flute it is ?
i am very curious to know more about her voice


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Rick McDaniel   


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Post #13

This has been on another thread, at some time or another. It always makes folks feel good, to be reminded of how the flute impacts the feeling of well being, in humans.


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