Thoreau's Walden: A Photographic Register

Thoreau's Walden: A Photographic Register

Thoreau's Walden: A Photographic Register

Thoreau's Walden: A Photographic Register

Excerpt

To celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Thoreau's experiment in housekeeping at Walden Pond, Henry B. Kane decided some time ago to photograph as many as possible of the things that delighted Thoreau and nourished his spirit. Since nature does not change much in a century of New England living, Mr. Kane thought of portraying Walden as a contemporary book. By and large the natural wealth of the Walden region is identical with the richness Thoreau stored in his literary treasure chest. To people of literal minds Mr. Kane's project might seem like a perversion of the facts. For Walden Pond is now a public park where people swim, boat, fish, and picnic in astonishing numbers. The solitude that Thoreau prized has disappeared. But the people who enjoy a holiday beside the water have not changed the contours of the pond, blighted the flowers of the Concord countryside, nor driven off the animals and birds.

Even now the pond freezes when the winter settles down and melts when the sun comes north in the spring. Living in the town of Lincoln only two miles away, Mr. Kane is a neighbor of Walden Pond and can keep Thoreau's inland sea under observation. He notes that the bluebirds, redwings, and song sparrows reach the Concord region in mid-March, as they did in Thoreau's day. In the spring of 1845, when Thoreau was hewing the timbers for his house in the cove, the ice remained until the first of April. Early spring in New England in 1945 was abnormally warm; Walden was free of ice on the night of March 20. Thoreau would have liked to record that early date. But it brings our time close to his, or his close to ours, to remember that the second year of his Walden adventure was also an early spring: Walden was first completely open on March 25; and in 1852, when he was still writing his testament to Walden, the pond was open on March 23. The principles and habits of nature have not changed much in one hundred years.

All of us would be delighted if it were possible to photograph the little house that Thoreau built with his own hands and occupied for two years. That . . .

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