I wrote this post three years ago on January 1, 2018 for Linda G Hill Life in progress #JusJoJan Daily Prompt of “Drama” which was suggested by Ritu and it was originally titled Thoreau A Love For Water. Thoreau was a minimalist, a person who believed that we could be happier by having less and simplifying our lives. Thoreau was a disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and he sought isolation and he wanted to be close to nature. In his writings he suggests that all living things have rights that humans should recognize, implying that we have a responsibility to respect and care for nature rather than destroying it. He was motivated by an urgent need to find an understanding of reality that could give him a greater intensity and meaning for his life and Walden Pond’s pure body of water gave him the serenity, peacefulness and mystery that he was seeking.
Thoreau taught the idea of civil disobedience which is still important today, that it is morally and ethically important for us to challenge unjust law and authority, and to do so non-violently. Thoreau wrote, “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth–certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.” Thoreau also wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Thoreau believed in transcendentalism, the literary movement and philosophical stance that reflection on the soul is important. Thoreau was nineteen years old when Emerson published Nature, an essay that articulates the philosophical underpinnings of the movement. Transcendentalism began as a radical religious movement, opposed to the rationalist, conservative institution that Unitarianism had become. Henry felt that we should take time to think, and not being swayed by conformity, as by finding one’s self are all important ideas that allow you to take a stand in life can and it will help you attain self-confidence.
Thoreau included a chapter in his book titled “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”. In this section he talks about his place of residence, and then he gets into some deeply philosophical concerns about the meaning of life. Thoreau tells us why he chose to live by Walden Pond, “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.”
Thoreau A Love For Water
In 1845, Henry David Thoreau (1817 –1862) American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, environmental scientist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist began a two-year experiment of simple living in which he built himself a hut on Emerson’s land, on the banks of Walden Pond just outside Concord, Massachusetts. It was Independence Day when Thoreau arrived there, turning his back on what he saw as his country’s depressing materialism, its commercial and industrial soullessness, so he took himself away from all of the drama, off to a life of solitude in a country cabin near Walden Pond. Thoreau said, “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.
Henry David Thoreau was a boatman, more than he was a woodsman, his life was spent on the river boating, walking and skating. As a backyard naturalist and river enthusiast, Thoreau was keenly aware of the way humans had altered the waterways and meadows of his beloved Concord River Valley. He recognized that because he was a land surveyor who had many bankers, lawyers, builders, landowners and elected officials as his clients. Thoreau was a self-reliant, blunt, hostile to rank and privilege, unwilling to accept any philosophy as true without the test of implementation, and above all fiercely and passionately steadfast in his insistence that government exists for the benefit of the governed, that its power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that each man is the equal of every other man and superior to any government.
In 1854, Thoreau published his major work, Walden, which draws upon each of his identities in meditating on the concrete problems of living in the world as a human being. It must have been so peaceful for Thoreau to be in a canoe on Walden pond. Thoreau was a complex man of many talents who was in tune with nature and he found great joy in his daily life looking to nature for ultimate truth while living in the woods by Walden Pond. He was motivated by an urgent need to find an understanding of reality that could give him a greater intensity and meaning for his life and Walden Pond’s pure body of water gave him the serenity, peacefulness and mystery that he was seeking.
Thoreau said that water protects against the ‘insularity’ of the earth, and reminds us that the earth is not entirely solid. In the morning he bathed in the pond to wake up, which is the most important thing to do. Thoreau faced some bad weather during his two year stay at Walden Pond and he thought, rain is good somewhere, for something, even if it causes floods near him, and forces him to stop working for days at a time. He is so sympathetic partially because he finds such a good society in nature. Also, he finds the pelting rain, wind, thunder, and lightening very dramatic and beautiful. He noticed that Walden Pond, had two main colors, those being a far away color and a close-up color. These are usually, respectively, blue and green, but the ponds can also be slate on stormy days when they reflect the stormy sky. Thoreau surmises that the pond changes color because it reflects the color of the sand, the sky, the green of the surrounding hills, or some combination of both. What is most interesting to Thoreau is that a tiny spoonful of the pond water will be clear, when at the same time it appears colored when you look at the pond.
When water is quiet it is as glass. The fish and bugs make concentric circles on its surface that are beautiful. Water is the intermediate form between earth and sky. Unlike the earth, it is affected by the wind and ripples with it. And, we can look down upon it and examine it. Thoreau imagines having that opportunity with the air one day, but for now he can observe the water. When the water reflects the clouds, Thoreau imagines that he’s floating through the air, and the fish look like they’re hovering in air. Thoreau mentions how Walden Pond appears as if it was shaped by some great hand, since its beauty seems so deliberate. Thoreau felt that water is the only suitable drink for people and he said that water is the only drink for a wise man and he drank from the pond using a dipper. Thoreau always directed his visitors to drink from the pond. He saw that with the first freeze came the first bit of ice on the pond. The first ice is perfect and clear. You can lie on this new ice before it will support your weight standing. There are millions of tiny bubbles in this new ice that look like a string of beads. Thoreau threw some stones that broke through and made big white bubbles. With an Indian summer (a late warm spell), the ice lost its beauty. The white bubbles from the stones burst against the new lower layer of ice. Thoreau philosophized that water has changed the landscape around us dramatically, and may do so again.
Oceans, rivers and lakes have inspired artists and drawn tourists for centuries, but an often-overlooked water feature is the pond. A pond is a shallow body of water with little or no current that plays host to diverse flora and fauna. Ponds are often confused with lakes, though there are several characteristics that differentiate the two. Lakes are fed by multiple streams, a current and have varying water temperature because of the disparity in depth. Ponds are smaller, they have one water source and are uniform in temperature.
Written for Fandango’s Friday Flashback.