Read this and remember that Thoreau is living only about a mile and a half from town:
“Both place and time were changed, and I dwelt nearer to those parts of the universe and to those eras in history which had most attracted me. Where I lived was as far off as many a region viewed nightly by astronomers. We are wont to imagine rare and delectable places in some remote and more celestial corner of the system, behind the constellation of Cassiopeia’s Chair, far from noise and disturbance. I discovered that my house actually had its site in such a withdrawn, but forever new and unprofaned, part of the universe.”
True, Walden Pond was a more-or-less (but hardly pristine) natural setting, but the point is that Henry’s found the far off and exotic quite close to home, literally in Emerson’s wood lot. It’s a matter of perspective and attitude: “There was pasture enough for my imagination,” he says. Through imagination and this change of attitude, “both place and time were changed.”
Another person might have thought there was nothing special about the place at all. People went there all the time to cut timber, and a railroad embankment cut off one arm of the pond.
Thoreau made Walden a special place by writing about it. He could have done the same for a multitude of ordinary places, but the pond was convenient. It wasn’t the scenery that was most important, it was the seeing.
(About “A Year in Walden”)