We’ve come to the end of “Solitude.” Walden is about to get more sociable in the “Visitors” chapter. But first, a visit of another kind:
“I have occasional visits in the long winter evenings, when the snow falls fast and the wind howls in the wood, from an old settler and original proprietor, who is reported to have dug Walden Pond, and stoned it, and fringed it with pine woods; who tells me stories of old time and of new eternity; and between us we manage to pass a cheerful evening with social mirth and pleasant views of things, even without apples or cider — a most wise and humorous friend, whom I love much, who keeps himself more secret than ever did Goffe or Whalley; and though he is thought to be dead, none can show where he is buried. An elderly dame, too, dwells in my neighborhood, invisible to most persons, in whose odorous herb garden I love to stroll sometimes, gathering simples and listening to her fables; for she has a genius of unequalled fertility, and her memory runs back farther than mythology, and she can tell me the original of every fable, and on what fact every one is founded, for the incidents occurred when she was young. A ruddy and lusty old dame, who delights in all weathers and seasons, and is likely to outlive all her children yet.”
Who are his imaginary visitors? Spirits of the woods? Here he sounds playful, and maybe a little batty. But he’s telling us that he comes in contact with ideas and experiences that only happen in solitude — sort of a quiet voice that you can only hear when all else falls silent.
(About “A Year in Walden”)