…At the end of his first eight months at the pond he found that he had spent a total of $8.74 for food- an average of twenty-seven cents a week. Clothing for the same period cost him only $8.40, and lamp oil two dollars. From an economic standpoint the experiment at Walden was a success.
There are those who complained that he balanced his budget by sponging on his friends and relatives. Some Concordians claimed that “he would have starved, if it had not been that his sisters and mother cooked up pies and doughnuts and sent them to him in a basket.” It is true that his mother and sisters made a special trip out to the pond every Saturday, carrying with them each time some delicacy of cookery which was gladly accepted. And it is true that he raided the family cookie jar on his frequent visits home. But any other behavior on his part would have hurt his mother’s feelings: she prided herself on her culinary accomplishments and dearly loved to treat her son.
The Emerson’s too, frequently invited him to dinner, as did the Alcott’s and the Hosmers. They had all done so before he went to Walden Pond and cotinued the custom after he left. Rumor had it that every time Mrs. Emerson rang her dinner bell, Thoreau came bounding through the woods and over the fences to be first in line at the Emerson dinner table. The fact that a mile and a half was an exceptional distance to hear a dinner bell was ignored by the gossips. In Walden, Thoreau wrote, “If I dined out occasionally, as I had always done, and I trust shall have opportunities to again, it was frequently to the detriment of my domestic arrangements.”
Thoreau found plenty to do at the pond. He learned to love having a broad margin to his life. On summer mornings he would sometimes sit in his sunny doorway from sunrise until noon, rapt in reverie, while the birds sang around him or flitted noiselessly through his house. He grew on such occasions, he thought, like corn in the night, and said his hours of idleness were not time subtracted from his life, but so much over and above his usual allowance.
Other mornings he devoted to housework, setting all the furniture out on the grass, dashing water on the floor and scrubbing it with a broom and white sand from the pond shore, and returning the furniture to its place before the villagers had their breakfast. But most mornings he devoted to his garden. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…It need hardly be said that Thoreau would have no truck with institutions, organizations or “movements.” When freedom submits to a formula it rids itself of responsibility, the responsibility to one’s own axioms. To check one’s thought and behavior against the dictates of one’s conscience may prove unflattering; to chart one’s course by such a checkup requires a powerful will; it is to avoid such revelation and responsibility that people are prone to hide behind rituals, committees, flags, and bylaws. But, flight from individual responsibility amounts to abandonment of freedom. You are not free when you refuse to make choices in your own name. You enslave yourself when you take refuge from the consequences of your decisions in an organization, a nation, or any collective fiction. To Thoreau such “escapism” was unthinkable, queer. So, he writes, “As a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an organization grows up.” For him there never was a lull of truth.
The value you put on freedom is, like all objective value, the price you are willing to pay for it. Thoreau’s price came high, and the difference between him and his contemporaries is not to be found in the lingo of psychology but in the greater worth he put on his self-esteem. He rejected the mob because mingling with it called for a sacrifice of that self-esteem at the altars of convention and hypocrisy. That he was not unsocial is evidenced by his friendship with people of similar timber and by devotion to his family. Whether it was with Emerson or the wood-cutter, with Channing or an Indian guide, his social contacts had to be on an above-board basis, unencumbered with trivialities; any other terms did not interest him. If being social at any cost of self-esteem is the mark of balance, then Thoreau was decidedly unbalanced….Read More:http://mises.org/daily/5033