Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connection with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.
The rooms of his apartment were full with the dog home again, convalescing. He was satisfied to know, even when she was out of sight, that somewhere in the apartment she was sleeping or eating or sitting watchfully. It was family, he guessed, more or less. Did most people want a house of living things at night, to know that in the dark around them other warm bodies slept?
Such a house could even be the whole world.
The charm which Henry [Thoreau] uses for bird and frog and mink is patience. They will not come to him, or show him aright, until he becomes a log among logs, sitting still for hours in the same place; then they come around him and to him, and show themselves at home.
To explain why we become attached to our birthplaces, we pretend that we are trees and speak of "roots." Look under your feet. You will not find gnarled growths sprouting through the soles. Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth, designed to keep us in our places.
A certain businessman, renowned for his ruthlessness, once made a vow in Mark Twain's presence. "Before I die," he declared, "I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," Twain replied. "You could stay home in Boston and keep them.