A Walk Along Shore of Thoreau's Walden Pond

Walden Pond's Shores
Walden Pond's Shores | Source

A Walk Along Walden Pond's Shores

I first read Henry David Thoreau's Walden in the eighth grade and have probably read it thirty times or more since. Every ten years or so, I find myself walking the shoreline of Walden Pond, not far from Concord, following Thoreau's footpath from an alcove of the pond up to the spot where his cabin stood between 1845 and 1847. He fancied himself following the call of an Indian's life of simplicity. He took notes, extensive notes on tribal cultures of North America at his modest cabin. He called them his "Indian Notebooks."

He also composed at his cabin his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1848) as well as early drafts of his more famous second book Walden or Life in the Woods (1854). But he was never too busy writing to explore the natural world around him at Walden Pond. He watched water birds, muskrats and even water insects striding along the surface. He found arrowpoints in the woods and took note of the unfurling of ferns in springtime. Nature remained an important part of his world, but not at the expense of his concern for his fellow man; after all, he did share his cabin briefly with a run-away slave who was on his way to Canadian freedom. His composing the essay "Resistance to Civil Government" (1847) serve as as another case in point for his compassion and concern for his fellow human beings in the difficult times of our territorial war against Mexico and the passage of the "Fugitive Slave Law" by the U.S. Congress during his residence at Walden. And yet the natural world always furnished him with solace and a peace of soul.

As I walked along the shoreline just a few years ago on our way back from Canada, how could I have not noticed shore birds, pagoda-like white pines and the scent of woods full of ferns and flowers. At the same time the shores of peaceful Walden Pond contrasted so much with the wars in the Middle East and the lingering racial bias simmering on the streets of our modern cities not so far away from this pond. But listen, there comes from high in a pine tree the notes of a white-throated sparrow: Ah-tee-tee-tee-tee.

An additional note::

I recently visited Walden Pond just 2 months ago on April 3 through 4, 2014 when I had a reading/signing of my book Desert Rims to Mountains High held at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. On the eve of April 3rd, Walden Pond had a dense coat of winter ice from shore to shore. Thoreau notes that the latest he saw ice on Walden Pond in the late 1840s was on April 9th! Certainly the winter of 2014 was an unusually cold interruption to a global warming trend.

Readers should consult Henry Thoreau's Walden, or Life in the woods, especially the chapter "Spring." India's late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's favorite walk in America was around the shores of Walden Pond as Thoreau had a profound influence on Gandhi.

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Comments 14 comments

hobbyj profile image

hobbyj 4 years ago from New York

Very good book to write on. There is so much to it! I bet your views on it have changed dramatically since 8th grade. I think, hands down, most intellectually inspiring chapter is "Solitude."


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Thanks for your comment. Yes, now that I'm 74 my views about Walden are a good bit different. I like "Spring" as well.


hobbyj profile image

hobbyj 4 years ago from New York

Interesting, I bet they have changed! If you like Walden and enjoy poetry I suggest you read some of Mary Oliver's work.


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Thank you, will do as summer reading. Right now I'm teaching two intensive college classes. A few years back I wrote the introduction to the Harper Perennial Classic edition of Thoreau's The Maine Woods which may be of interest.


hobbyj profile image

hobbyj 4 years ago from New York

I didn't know that you teach. I have my M.A. in English and my B.A. in philosophy. I taught introductory level English for a while as well. At what institution do you teach? Perhaps I will send a cover letter and resume. I'm primarily a Melville scholar and wrote my thesis on the connection between Thomas Hardy and Schopenhauer.


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Hi hobbyj. I am retired and teaching at a business college in Denver (Colorado Heights University). The largest part of my teaching career was at the University of Wyoming (1965-1990). I received my Ph.D in English back in 1970 (University of New Mexico) with a dissertation on Thoreau. I've held visiting positions at Osaka University (Japan) and the University of Bologna (Italy). I'm simply teaching business English for travel money.


hobbyj profile image

hobbyj 4 years ago from New York

That is so funny. I've been to Japan and thought about teaching in Osaka. Perhaps I should think about applying to schools out west. Good for you, seems like a 'life worth living'. I'm sure you've read a lot of Emerson as well.


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Thanks for your comment. Yes, Emerson has been a favorite of mine in the past. I'm now into contemporary Native Amrican fiction. I think my book is still available: Critical Perspectives on Native American Fiction (Three Continents Press, 1993,1997). Cordially, Richard Fleck


hobbyj profile image

hobbyj 4 years ago from New York

Congrats. I always wanted to publish one of mine but it's tough!


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Yes it's a tough market out there.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi, Richard - Thanks for the stroll along Walden Pond. I visited there once, quite a long time ago and it was so cool to be walking in the footsteps of Thoreau. We visited Lexington and Concord too, and just walking around those historic areas was marvelous. And so was your hub!


hobbyj profile image

hobbyj 4 years ago from New York

I would love to visit and will someday. Great hub and the reason I respect Thoreau is because he lived his philosophy, those are truly hard steps to follow!


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Thanks, Dolores. It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Nehru, shortly after Gandhi was killed, made a pilgrimage to Walden Pond.


juneaukid profile image

juneaukid 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado Author

Thanks hobbyj, yes it is well worth a visit to Walden Pond--a perfect place to write some poetry.

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    Richard Francis Fleck (juneaukid)307 Followers
    168 Articles

    Richard F. Fleck is author of two dozen books, his latest being Desert Rims to Mountains High and Thoreau & Muir Among the Native Americans.



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