Thursday, March 25, 2010

"In Wilderness is the Preservation of the World . . ."

Another beautiful spring day in New England, but when I awoke I was not looking forward to my day with enthusiasm.  On my agenda for the day was a trip to pick up popcorn for an activity at my sons' school in a city approximately 1.5 hours (each way) from my home.  Having been plagued with a terrible cold all week, staying home with a box of tissues, a cup of tea and a good movie sounded like a more inviting plan; but, alas, mine is the life of a mom - sick days aren't allowed!

In an effort to add some enjoyment in this trip, I decided to make a stop at Walden Pond  in Concord, Massachusetts on the way home.

Best known for the retreat of author Henry David Thoreau who lived in a small cabin (10' x 15') on Walden Pond for two years (1845-1847). His book, Walden or Life in the Woods, recounts his experience living one on one with nature.

The Walden Reservation has a replica of Thoreau's cabin, along with an excerpt from Walden that shows the costs of the building materials used in the construction.

Boards: $8.03
Shingles: $4.00
Laths: $1.25
Two windows with glass: $2.43
One thousand brick: $4.00
Two casts of lime: $2.40
Hair: $0.31 (what does this mean?!)
Mantle-tree iron: $0.15
Nails: $3.90
Hinges and screws: $0.14
Latch: $0.10
Chalk: $0.01
Transportation: $1.40
Total:  $28.12

The exterior and interior of the replica cabin

Over the years there have been movements to try to develop the Walden Pond area (there was an amusement park located at the far end of the Pond in the early 1900s, but it was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt).  The land was managed by Middlesex County in the early 1960s, and it was proposed that part of its 60+ acres be razed for parking and other amenities.  This plan was averted by a Massachusetts Superior Court judge who ruled that in the deed donating the property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it was specified that the land be put in conservation so it could never be developed and thus preserving its natural beauty for generations to come.  The property is currently managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Statue of Thoreau outside the replica of his cabin

In an effort to further preserve Walden, singer Don Henley founded The Walden Woods Project in 1990.  The Project has raised awareness of the value of this historic area, and has protected over 100 acres in and around Walden Woods, along with offering educational programs about Thoreau's life and work. 

Path along the perimeter of Walden Pond

The next time you find yourself speeding through the craziness of life, slow down for a minute and visit Walden Pond . . .  you will see how simple and peaceful life can be.  I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Walden:

"I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!"

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