Walden Pond – Concord, Massachusetts – 10/16/17 – 1.8 Miles
Our idyllic weekend in the charming countryside of Vermont sped by and a southbound plane awaited us in Boston. Looking for one last point of interest en route to the airport, you say? May we recommend…
Walden Pond is the setting of one Henry David Thoreau’s experiment of simple living and his subsequent bestseller, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. At the age of 28, with the permission of his landowner buddy Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau built a tiny hut by the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts and lived there for 2 years, 2 months and 2 days, fending for himself, observing his natural surroundings and contemplating the uselessness of civilization.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I won’t go into much detail because interested readers can Google as easily as I can. Walden Pond State Reservation, a National Historic Landmark, is part of the Massachusetts state park system. The pond is a kettle hole, formed by retreating glaciers. It covers about 64 acres and the walking path around it is about 1.8 miles. (There are more trails connections within Walden Pond SR). I understand that in the summer months it draws large crowds. No thanks!
Jim and I walked the path. The pond is rather ordinary as ponds go, but picturing it with Thoreau’s eyes, peeking through the trees, lends it a mystical quality – at least for an adult. I’m betting that high school students find his writings about it as boring as I once did.
“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
A replica of Thoreau’s cabin sits not at its original location, but near the Visitor Center which opened in 2017, just a year before our visit. Aside from the obligatory bookstore and exhibits detailing Thoreau’s time at Walden Pond, the center engages visitors in interactive and interpretive displays of the area’s ecosystem and native critters. The building is a model of green technology with net zero energy use. Something for everyone to engage in – biology, ecology, architecture, literature.
Tinges of fall among the trees surrounding the pond. On this seasonably cool fall day there were several hardy souls in the water. Now and again as Jim and I meandered along by the water’s edge, a swimmer would pop up unexpectedly from an incredibly long underwater submersion.
Of course I bought a copy of Walden at the bookstore and read it in the subsequent weeks. Aside from his thoughts on communion with nature, many of Thoreau’s observations of human interactions, politics, and complications of working and/or living surprised me for their timeliness and timelessness. Minimalism? Tiny house craze? Nothing new under the sun.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” ~Henry David Thoreau