Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walk #342: Thoreau's Evil Days...

An afternoon walk of the short loop with Angel.

I've tried to read Thoreau for years--with no success. I just couldn't make it through his text. I tried again recently, and now I can enjoy his style, humor, descriptive power. Specifically, I was reading Thoreau's essay "Walking" last night. This passage reminded me of something I wrote about once (and took a whole lot of grief for my views):

"At present, in this vicinity, the best part of the land is not private property; the landscape is not owned and the walker enjoys comparative freedom. But possibly the day will come when it will be partitioned off into so-called pleasure-grounds, in which a few will take a narrow and exclusive pleasure only---when fences shall be multiplied and man-traps and other engines invented to confine men to the public road, and walking over the surface of God's earth shall be construed to mean trespassing on some gentleman's grounds. To enjoy a thing exclusively is commonly to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it. Let us improve our opportunities, then, before the evil days come."

I'd say I'm in good company with Thoreau. I don't think Thoreau would approve of gated communities and "No Trespassing" signs. His view: "to enjoy a thing exclusively...is to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it"---is so correct!

Thoreau got it right: we are in the "evil days"!


Ian Woofenden said...

Rode the 12-mile figure 8, though my speedometer won't tell that truth. Stopped at the church for "Soup Supper" and a program on a remote resort in Baja, at mile 8.5. Quite cold out tonight, especially after not really getting dried off during dinner.

greentangle said...

Glad you've begun to appreciate Henry. He makes you work more than most writers but that's what makes him better than most writers.

"Walking" is one of his best. I'm working on an annotated "Maine Woods" which is one of my least favorites of his because it's mostly straight travel description without all the contemplation. But it has its famous moments.

I just read a book titled "Dogtown" about an area in Gloucester, MA which has been so ignored over the years that for much of the land, they have no idea who owns it--the last recorded owners were a couple hundred years ago. I think Thoreau would like that.

Woodswalker said...

I certainly share your contempt for gated communities and No Trespassing signs and wish we all could share equal access to all nature's glories. But unfortunately, that also means free access for ATVs and snowmobiles and all the damage to the land and the trash they leave behind.

Ian Woofenden said...

Rode to town for errands and Z's wrestling match, with stops to drop off a pie plate, and then an energy club meeting in the evening, with a 4,000-foot walk included, and then a ride home in the freezing dark.

12.33 miles
10.26 mph average
29.88 mph max