One of the long term running gags in our family is that given half a chance I would either run off to live in the woods or become a hermit in a Monastery. Well, I spotted this story recently that made me seriously consider it…
Here’s a guy who did it for almost 2 years – Henry David Thoreau, in the mid 1840s, spent time alone at Walden Pond, a couple of miles outside Concorde, Massachusetts, in a house he built himself. There he studied his surrounding, wrote and further formulated the philosophies that eventually became part of the American Transcendentalist movement later in the century.
Part natural history study, part philosophy, the book has become a rallying point and source of inspiration for generations of American environmentalists. For further information, see the entry on Wiki.
Last week was spent more at home than recently – so my bus based reading took a hit. For that reason I’m only half way through the book. The writing style is occasionally difficult – especially for those of us not well versed in the slang and culture of the mid-19th Century USA – but it is a passionately written and insightful book.
I’m enjoying it – I’m not able to read it in long chunks, but read a little, chew it over, savour it – think on it and then move on. Perhaps that’s the way this book should be read.
It’s a fine book, thought provoking and empowering. It’s also set me thinking about Bill McKibben’s ‘the End of Nature’ – perhaps I should dig that out soon.