The Zen of New England

Post by
Tom Puckett
“My soul is tuned to the quietness, peace, and stillness that nature inspires.” – Shikoba

I’ve been reading The Maine Woods by Henry David Thoreau for at least three years now. I’m about half-way through and I’m guessing it’ll probably be another three years before I finish. I only read it after crawling into bed. On a good night, I’ll get through a few pages before my eyelids falter and the book falls to the floor with a thud. Sometimes I don’t even survive more than a couple of paragraphs or sentences before I’ve gone out like a whale oil lantern.

What is it about this book that has such a strange effect on me? For one thing the prose is so beautiful, hypnotic and calming that I feel as if I’m on the journey with Thoreau and we’ve just set up camp near Mount Katahdin for the night. The fire crackles; a balsam-fragranced breeze sends sparks deep into the velvety night sky. A loon plaintively calls in the distance … and … I’m down for the night.


There’s something indefinable about the light here in New England and the way it magnifies the rugged beauty. I can fully understand when Thoreau says, “We can never have enough of nature.”

I’ve taken a lot of photographs traveling in the region. But I don’t consider myself a landscape photographer — or a photographer at all, for that matter. I’m more of an observer who happens to carry a camera. The photos I take are filtered through my experience as a graphic designer and I’m often drawn to vistas that are sparse and minimal. Quiet and meditative. This is what feeds my soul.

Just as every designer learns to embrace white space as an important element in design, I’ve come to appreciate the vast “nothingness” of a spacious sky or an infinite ocean. Because it isn’t about the absence of something, but more like the presence of something that can’t be defined.

Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod, Mass.
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Burlington Breakwater North Lighthouse, Burlington, Vermont
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
North Truro, Cape Cod, Mass.
National Seashore, Cape Cod, Mass.
Penobscot Bay, Rockport, Maine
Race Point Lighthouse, Provincetown, Mass.
Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Moonrise over House Island, Casco Bay, South Portland, Maine
Portland Head Lighthouse, Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Fore River, Portland, Maine
Acton, Maine
Rockland, Maine
More From OUr Blog

You Might Also Like…

Séance on a Tuesday Afternoon
Read More
The Early Bird Gets the Cat Fur
Read More
Tips for Loafing in Lowell
Read More