Monday, June 9, 2008

"I Wished to Live Deliberately..."

On the Friday of my Boston sojourn, I went to Walden Pond to visit the site of the cabin that Henry David Thoreau built in 1845 as part of his experiment in simple living. He wrote about the two years he lived in that cabin in Walden, Or Life in the Woods, published in 1854.

I had not set out to visit this shrine to the transcendental movement; it was too rainy to be a tourist in Boston so I was wandering purposely aimlessly and found myself on the road to Concord. All of the sudden, I saw a pond on one side of the road and a parking lot entrance sign on the other. The word "walden" jumped out at me and I turned right.

I had found the Walden Pond State Reservation, maintained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It surrounds the pond and includes a small swimming beach, beautiful views, and many trails leading to the site of Thoreau's cabin. It was here that Thoreau settled in to try a simple life.

I walked through the woods to the site of the hut. Thoreau abandoned the place after two years. It was salvaged into other uses; the boards went into other construction projects and the roof became a cover for a pigsty. The site was lost for years but was rediscovered in the 1940s.

Starting in the 1870s, friends and followers of Thoreau started to visit the site they thought had been where Thoreau lived and wrote (they were off by a bit) and began a tradition of leaving behind a stone in memory and tribute. There is now a sizable pile of stones.

Across the pond there is a steep bluff known as Emerson's Cliff. I found a small stone there to place on the pile by the hut.

Concord has a great deal else to see. The Minuteman National Historic Park is there. It includes the Old North Bridge where the American Revolutionary War started.

I'd like to head back there some time and spend more than an afternoon.

1 comment:

Nancy Willing said...

gee, what a great post. Wandering into Walden Pond. You made my day.

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