Wan­der­ing Walden Pond: A Thoreau-ly worth­while day trip

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Henry David Thoreau went to the woods be­cause, as he fa­mously put it, "I wished to live de­lib­er­ately." Two cen­turies after the "Walden" au­thor's birth, peo­ple are still de­lib­er­ately fol­low­ing in Thoreau's foot­steps to dis­cover Walden Pond, the lit­tle lake he im­mor­tal­ized. Whether you're vis­it­ing Bos­ton or the Berk­shires, the pond and the bu­colic Mas­sachusetts town of Con­cord are Thoreau-ly worth a side trip. Here's why:

Walden Pond

A re­treat­ing glacier formed it 10,000 or so years ago, but it was Thoreau - born in Con­cord 200 years ago this sum­mer on July 12, 1817 - who re­ally put Walden Pond on the map. He spent two years and two months in soli­tude and re­flec­tion on its shores, writ­ing "Walden" (the book's full ti­tle is "Walden; or, Life in the Woods"), about grasp­ing at the mean­ing of life by liv­ing sim­ply and co­ex­ist­ing with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

To­day, Walden Pond is a pop­u­lar fish­ing hole stocked with trout and fre­quented by walk­ers, boaters, swim­mers, sun­bathers and bird­watch­ers in warm weather. In win­ter, there's snow­shoe­ing and cross-coun­try ski­ing. You can wan­der the shaded dirt path hug­ging the ob­long pond; at 1.7 miles, it's per­fect for walk­ers and run­ners of all abil­i­ties, and its seren­ity pro­vides a spec­tac­u­lar back­drop for fo­liage in autumn.

A can't-miss at­trac­tion on Walden Pond State Reser­va­tion is the re­con­struc­tion of the tiny wooden cabin where Thoreau lived and worked. There's also a gleam­ing new so­lar-pow­ered vis­i­tor cen­ter that opened last Oc­to­ber, fea­tur­ing in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits about the man con­sid­ered a founder of the mod­ern en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment. Of­fi­cials say the pond and cen­ter draw about a half-mil­lion vis­i­tors from around the globe each year.

Thoreau at Walden

Thoreau made a big splash at Walden Pond. Work­ing at a sim­ple green desk in the cabin he built him­self, the former school­teacher com­pleted "Walden" in 1854. One hun­dred and 63 years later, it's a clas­sic known for lines such as, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet des­per­a­tion," and, "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." But Thoreau was many things - philoso­pher, nat­u­ral­ist, tran­scen­den­tal­ist, abo­li­tion­ist, early cli­mate change ad­vo­cate - and he wrote other ac­claimed works, in­clud­ing "Civil Dis­obe­di­ence," an 1849 es­say in which he agi­tated against slav­ery and gov­ern­ment over­reach.

Con­cord and en­vi­rons

Nes­tled about 20 miles north­west of Bos­ton, Con­cord is fa­mous for Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War land­marks en­shrined in Minute Man Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park, a leafy spot to pic­nic and learn more about the first bat­tles that led to Amer­i­can in­de­pen­dence from Eng­land. Thoreau isn't the only renowned writer who cre­ated here; Ralph Waldo Emer­son sketched out his cel­e­brated es­say "Na­ture" in town, and it's the home­town of Pulitzer Prize-win­ning au­thor Doris Kearns Good­win. The Con­cord Mu­seum houses some truly iconic Amer­i­cana, in­clud­ing the lan­tern that hung in a church steeple dur­ing Paul Re­vere's fate­ful 1775 ride warn­ing that the Bri­tish were com­ing.

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