Thoreau's Walden Pond (Concord,
After brief visits to the Hawthorne and Alcott houses, I drove into Concord and visited the North Bridge. However, I soon
beat a retreat just as the British Army had done 226 years earlier because the weather was
pretty hot and sticky, reaching 98 degrees. It seemed that even the
bronze statues here were starting to wilt.
One site in the Concord area that I had never been
to, however, was Walden Pond.
Of course, Walden Pond was where Henry David Thoreau (whose real name was
David Henry Thoreau... maybe he was dyslexic) decided to take a break from civilization for a couple of
years and write a flowery book that no one can understand. Seriously,
Thoreau was a pretty cool guy and he moved onto a small, wooded lot here in
1845, built a cabin, and lived
simply and alone amidst nature for two years... which sounds pretty appealing to
Walden Pond is a park and a very popular one at that. I think
Thoreau would have gagged at the $5 entrance fee, but I paid it
and parked there in the huge, crowded lot, filled with cooler-toting
were, oh, about a gazillion people at the Walden Pond beach on this muggy afternoon, but,
interestingly enough, hardly
anyone was at Thoreau's cabin site a mile away. Although I enjoyed visiting the
quiet cabin site, I was a bit discouraged once again after passing the mob scene at the
beach on my way back to the parking lot. Near the parking lot, though, I
spotted a replica of Thoreau's cabin and had a very pleasant and uplifting conversation
there with a local
Thoreau enthusiast named Brad Parker.
After talking to Brad for an hour
and learning more about Thoreau, I felt a strong kinship with him -- Thoreau, that is,
not Brad. I was so inspired that I walked back down to the beach and
dipped my hand into the water since, as Brad had told me, "You can't come to
Walden Pond without touching the water." He was right... the water here did
feel different. But maybe it was just the residue from a thousand unwashed
After visiting Walden Pond, I decided to camp
that night at a State Park on the coast near Salisbury, Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, this being the middle of summer and Salisbury being on a
beautiful beach and only an hour from Boston, the huge campground there was
filled to the brim, so I turned my truck around and headed down to a place
called Harold Parker State Park. I'd camped here once before, during my
1995 trip. With its $12 campsites, I mused that this park was probably the
only lodging available in the Boston area that night for less than a hundred
bucks. I think Thoreau, with his lifelong devotion to simplicity, would've been proud.
Above left: Walden Pond, near Concord, where Henry David Thoreau
decided to take a two-year sabbatical from life. Hey, that sounds like a great
idea... maybe I'll do that!
Above center: Thoreau really wasn't the recluse that
some have claimed, since he visited nearby Concord quite often during his
stay at Walden Pond. He was a quiet man who sought solace in nature,
emphasized simplicity in life, and strongly believed in moral principles.
Above right: Beach scene at Walden Pond. Not quite the way that
Thoreau remembered it, I'm sure...
Above left: A drawing of
Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond.
Above center: His original cabin no
longer stands but a replica was built near the parking lot.
Above right: The inside of the replica cabin is furnished much the same way
Thoreau had furnished his, with a simple table, stove, and bed.
Above left: Brad Parker, a local Thoreau
enthusiast, spent an hour with me at the cabin telling me stories about Thoreau. The
more I learned about Thoreau, the more I realized how similar were our
personalities. Thoreau died at age 44 of tuberculosis and is buried in
greatly enjoyed my visit to Walden Pond, thanks mostly to Brad.
Above center: Surreal image in my rear-view mirror -- leaving Walden Pond
at rush hour.
Above right: Concord jam (har, har)
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