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Change of Pace

May 6, 2012

This Saturday, instead of my usual trip to Holly Hill farm, it being a raw day in early May and with nothing planned for the woodshop, I decided to go canoeing at Walden Pond. Until a couple of years ago, I would go paddling almost every Saturday during the school year. Usually I’d visit the Concord River or Walden Pond. It was fun to go in all sorts of weather, including rain and snow, even when the river was partially frozen, and especially when it had flooded its banks. Now Saturday is farm day and I only canoe when School’s out for the Summer.
But today I went for a paddle. It was cool, and grey, and calm. There were very few people there, and judging by the languages many were tourists from Europe and Asia. The water was exceptionally clear owing to the lack of algae, the lighting, and the calmness of the day, and I am quite sure I could see to a depth of at least 20 feet. As mentioned above, these days I paddle most often in the Summer when the water temperature is much warmer, at least along the shore. The pond is near 100 feet deep and in the Summer the larger fish must stay in the cool depths, but today I saw many bass in the 10-15 inch range. In the Summer I may see one now and then, but this day I saw at least 15, perhaps more. It left me wishing I could have done a bit of fishing, but I never bring my gear and don’t even have a license. Besides, I saw many guys out there who were fishing and no sign that any of them had caught a thing (perhaps the cold could have left the fish sluggish.)
When I got back to the boat landing I was loading up my stuff when a guy began asking me about my boat. He was chatty and was telling me all about this and that when he mentioned that he had just finished reading Henry Thoreau’s Walden. I admitted that I’d never read it though I’d often thought of doing so, and by his reaction you’d have thought I’d told him I slaughtered baby seal’s in my spare time. He was incensed. He was incredulous. “You call yourself an educated man?!” he said to me (though I am not sure I had called myself any such thing.) The odd thing was that after years of visiting the pond and thinking I ought to read Walden, half way round the water today, at the point nearest Thoreau’s original cabin site, I had resolved that when I got home I really was going to read the book. I’d been meaning to for years. When I finally convinced him that I had the book and would begin reading it as soon as I got home he seemed mollified. He let me go after telling me it was his favorite book, it was the best book he’d ever read, in fact it might be the best book ever written. I fear I may be in for a let down, but I’ll give it a shot.

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