…But despite the visitors, despite all the trips to Concord village and to his parents home, despite his surveying and fence building and carpentry, and despite the hours devoted to writing, it must not be forgotten that the experiment at Walden was primarily a period of solitude and of communion with nature for Thoreau. It was a period of observing the loons and geese on the pond, the foxes and hawks in the woods, the woodchucks and meadow lurks in the fields, the stars and clouds overhead, the ants and the grasses underfoot, the flowers and trees all around. And his contemplation was one akin to religious devotion.
Frank Sanborn once told Thoreau that when he first moved to Concord in 1855, he was told there were three religious societies in town- the Unitarian, the Orthodox, and the Walden Pond Society. The latter consisted of those who spent their Sunday mornings out walking around Walden Pond enjoying the beauties of nature. Thoreau was unquestionably the high priest of that sect and spent a good part of each day in his devotions.
Although he was never to change the basic pattern of the life he adopted at Walden Pond, by 1847 Thoreau began to feel that he had exhausted the particular benefits of his life there. He had fulfilled his original purpose in coming to the pond- not only had he completed the manuscript of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, but he had written the first draft of Walden. It was time to turn to other fields, he thought, before he got into a rut.
In My, learning of Thoreau’s restlessness, Emerson wrote to his brother-in-law, Dr. Charles T. Jackson, urging that Thoreau be included as an assistant on a government geological survey to be made in Michigan. Thoreau would have been admirably suited for the position and wanted very much to go along, but the appointments proved to be political plums over which Jackson had no control and the opportunity was lost. ( to be continued)…