The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

"Explore thyself"

Frozen Walden Pond"I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there.  Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.  It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves.  I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pondside; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct."

Thoreau with snowballThoreau ends Walden by admonishing us to live our lives fully, not to fall into ruts or societal traps.  He tells us to explore our inner world, to live fully in the moment, and to "love your life, poor as it is."

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them."

How's that for an upbeat ending to a quotable but laborious book?

I'd love to hear from everyone who read part or all of Walden, now that the first book club read is at its end.  What were your overall thoughts?  Did you think Thoreau was a long-winded poser, or a mystic visionary?  Did the book inspire you; if so, to do what?

Weekend HomesteaderPersonally, I'm ready to move on from Thoreau and crack open The Dirty Life, which we'll begin discussing on July 25.  For my college buddies: the husband in The Dirty Life's team is a graduate of our alma mater, if that's an inducement to join the next discussion.

As we wait for everyone's copies of the next book to arrive on interlibrary loan, feel free to read back over my posts (and reader comments) on Walden's chapter 1, chapter 2, chapters 3 and 4, chapters 5 and 6, chapters 7 and 8, chapters 9 and 10, chapters 11 and 12, chapters 13 and 14, and chapters 15 and 16.  Several of us are subscribed to the comments and will see contributions you post there, even if they're out of sync.

My new paperback is available for preorder now and will ship this fall.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I too am eager for you to dive into The Dirty Life. Seems more like you.
Comment by Maggie Wed Jul 11 13:40:34 2012
Maggie --- Totally more my style. Walden was a bit of a chore (although I'm glad to have read it).
Comment by anna Wed Jul 11 14:17:31 2012


I read Walden several years ago. I haven't had much to say as you have worked your way through the book chapter by chapter.

The main take away for me was an encouragement towards voluntary simplicity that is still relevant today, if not more so. If we can reduce our wants and be satisfied with having our basic needs met, we can live without being indebted.

The example detailed in this book is rather extreme. IIRC, he basically lives in a shack in the woods with no running water and bathes in the pond. I'm not ready to give up running water, but perhaps there are things that I could give up that would make my life simpler.


Comment by RDG Wed Jul 11 22:45:29 2012
RDG --- You're probably right --- that may be why Walden is still so popular today. I've been trying to figure out the book's following ever since I started it, because a lot of it is a drag to read. Your hypothesis makes as much sense as Mark's (who thinks that since Thoreau died so young, his friend Emerson pushed the book as a way of appreciating his memory).
Comment by anna Thu Jul 12 15:56:55 2012

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