Self Reliance in Walden

1489 words 6 pages
Self Reliance

The summer of 1845 found Henry David Thoreau living in a rude shack on the banks of Walden Pond. The actual property was owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American philosopher. Emerson had earlier published the treatise entitled "Nature," and the young Thoreau was profoundly affected by its call for individuality and self-reliance. Thoreau planted a small garden, took pen and paper, and began to record the of life at Walden. Thoreau's experiment in deliberate living began in March of 1845. By planting a two-and-a-half acre parcel borrowed from a neighbor who thought it useless, he harvested and sold enough peas, potatoes, corn, beans and turnips to build and to buy food. He purchased an old shanty from
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While at Walden, Thoreau lived quite independently of time. He used neither clock or calendar, free to study the local plants, birds and animals: "Time is but the stream I go-a fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is."
The only thing that reminded Thoreau of the hectic lives of others was the whistle of the Finchburg Railway train that passed a mile or so away. Though the "devilish Iron Horse, whose ear-rending neigh is heard throughout the town" held a fascination for him, he was glad he was not "chained to commerce," which the train that "bloated pest" carrying a thousand men in its belly represented. The philosopher received some visitors; but they appear to be of little consequence to him, as he failed to even record their names.
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone ...
On those occasions when people did come, it was normally one at a time. And when visitors numbered more than his three chairs could accommodate, Thoreau entertained them in his "drawing room" - the woods surrounding his home.
Living in quiet, joyous solitude, Thoreau spent his winter days at the pond, making surveys of its bottom, studying its ice conditions and


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