“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau.
I have long been an admirer of Thoreau. I remember a conversation with a friend of mine, then a student at NYU, about what Thoreau would think about returning to a simple country life, but not giving up one’s eyeliner. I thought he might very well allow each of us to define our own essentials – not that I was the one finding eyeliner essential.
My rantings about Simplify, Simplify! have periodically annoyed my family for years. When my older son was in fifth grade his excellent teacher, Hava Kane, did a long unit on Thoreau and the Transcendentalists that culminated in a trip to Walden Pond. Inspired I took all the children to Walden that summer so you can see that Walden and Thoreau have been a part of our family life nearly forever.
When my husband and I were driving home from the family Thanksgiving we had to drive past the turnoff for Walden Pond, but this time we did not drive past.
We visited a reproduction of Thoreau’s tiny cabin, but then took the Ridge Walk to find the site of the original cabin.
The day was mild and many others were walking the trails through Walden woods. In 1945, on the Centennial of Thoreau’s retreat to the woods, Roland Wells Robbins, an amateur archaeologist set out to find the location of Thoreau’s cabin which had been built on land belonging to his good friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. In his book Thoreau describes the location of the cabin: “I lived alone in the woods, a mile from any neighbor . . .my house was on the side of a hill, immediately at the edge of the larger woods, in the midst of a young woods of pitch pines and hickories, and a half a dozen rods from the pond, to which a narrow path led down the hill.” For two years and two months Thoreau lived in the woods, but the distance was not so great that he couldn’t walk over to the Emerson’s for a good meal with some regularity. He did not depend entirely on his bean rows.
This inscribed marker was placed on the site of the cabin’s fireplace. “Below this stone lies the chimney foundation of Thoreau’s cabin 1845-1847. Go thou my incense upward from this hearth.”
For more inspiration by the Muses visit Carolyngail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the previous post to participate in my Blogoverary Giveaway.