Tag Archives: night

On the water after dark (Walden 125)

Holmes Lake, Nebraska, at sunset

Holmes Lake, Nebraska, at sunset

I want to follow up on the previous post and encourage you to find a way, as Thoreau did, to get out on the water after dark. It’s not enough to be beside a lake or pond. You have to be floating on it. Sometimes I take my kayak to a local lake just before sunset and paddle into through twilight and watch the stars come out. Continue reading

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Fishing by moonlight (Walden 124)

“In warm evenings I frequently sat in the boat playing the flute, and saw the perch, which I seem to have charmed, hovering around me, and the moon travelling over the ribbed bottom, which was strewed with the wrecks of the forest.” — Henry David Thoreau, from “The Ponds,” Walden

James Galway on flute, playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major (Op. 9, No. 2). Published in 1832, it’s possible that Thoreau knew this composition.

The video also includes Galway playing Debussy’s “Reverie,” which was composed well after Thoreau’s lifetime, but who here is going to complain about a gratuitous Debussy piece? Continue reading

Thoreau isn’t afraid of the dark (Walden 119)

Milky Way. Via Wikipedia

Milky Way. Via Wikipedia

Thoreau continues his description of dark nights. Think about his world, “a world lit only by fire” as the saying goes, a world with nighttime darkness that is utterly foreign to modern city dwellers. Imagine yourself in such a time, with brilliant stars and intense moonlight… or, when it is overcast, or when you’re deep in the woods, a world of deep, cave-like blackness. Are you afraid? Listen to Henry’s tone as he describes darkness. What is his mood here? Continue reading

Walking home in the dark, lost in thought (Walden 118)

Walden Pond, via Wikimedia Commons

Walden Pond, via Wikimedia Commons

Last time, Thoreau described the close attention he paid to life in town — giving it the same level of detached observation that he gave to wildlife in the woods. Just a few paragraphs later he describes the opposite of mindful attention — the experience of being so deep in your own thoughts that your body operates on auto-pilot: Continue reading

Tr-r-r-oonk! Thoreau loves frogs (Walden 86)

Walden Pond, via Wikimedia Commons

Walden Pond, via Wikimedia Commons

Go down by the water at night and you’ll hear them. You don’t even have to get very close — they’re loud, and probably never more playfully described than here. To set the mood with some mostly North American frogs, go to Animal Diversity Web’s frog call page (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology). Or listen to samples from Smithsonian Folkways’ 1958 LP Sounds of North American Frogs. Now read on: Continue reading