I crunch through leaves and smell wet bark at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Yellow and crimson leaves line the path and cluster at the edges of the dark water. I drop pebbles into the pond and watch the ripples. A school of tiny fish scatters. I am alone except for the beaver swimming in the middle of the lake.
The first time I visited Walden Pond was as an urban school teacher in Lawrence. I couldn’t quit thinking about the boy who brought a gun to school. I needed the healing Thoreau promised in the pages of his book from my transcendentalism literature class, back when life was easier.
I breathe in the crisp air and walk through elm and red oak trees purging their leaves. They don’t hold onto what is already dead.
Henry David Thoreau’s famous cabin is on the far side on the pond where he lived for two years away from civilization. I stand in front of piled rocks and what is left of the stone foundation. Wispy clouds shield the weak sun and I pull my jacket tighter. There is a wooden sign with words I once memorized on a morning commute from Boston. I clutched the steering wheel along with a crumpled paper with Thoreau’s words: “I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I hear my footsteps as I step on pine needles. Two wrens soar and call overhead. So much has changed, including my job and commute, but I smile because I’m here again. I find my special spot; the spot shrouded in birches with a view of the lake where I first skinny dipped, the place where I journaled after a year of writer’s block, and the spot where my husband decided to propose to me. The dirt is soft and damp, but I sit with crossed legs and pull out some paper and a pen to write.