Landscapes of memory (Walden 109)

Walden shoreline in fall. Taken near hiking trail and former site of Thoreau's cabin. Wikimedia Commons

Walden shoreline in fall. Taken near hiking trail and former site of Thoreau’s cabin. Wikimedia Commons

It’s a privilege to do what’s described below: to live with a place you’ve known from childhood, or to return to such a place and have it still be there. For many people the places they once knew are inaccessible or altered almost beyond recognition.

“When I was four years old, as I well remember, I was brought from Boston to this my native town, through these very woods and this field, to the pond. It is one of the oldest scenes stamped on my memory. And now to-night my flute has waked the echoes over that very water. The pines still stand here older than I; or, if some have fallen, I have cooked my supper with their stumps, and a new growth is rising all around, preparing another aspect for new infant eyes. Almost the same johnswort springs from the same perennial root in this pasture, and even I have at length helped to clothe that fabulous landscape of my infant dreams, and one of the results of my presence and influence is seen in these bean leaves, corn blades, and potato vines.” —Henry David Thoreau, “The Bean Field,” Walden

This brings us to something else that Thoreau loves about Walden Pond — not just that it’s a beautiful and quiet place, but that it is lodged deep in his memory, going almost as far back as he can remember. It is part of him. And as he hoes his little garden he becomes part of it, helping “to clothe that fabulous landscape of my infant dreams.”

(About  “A Year in Walden”)

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