April Field Trip: Walden Pond

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s July, but I’m still trying to catch up with my blogging. In any case, back in April, after spending too much time at home during the winter months, I went a little field-trip crazy and signed the us up for a grand total of 12 field trips or activities — out of 20 weekdays in the month. By the end of the month, as you might imagine, I was hearing things like, “Where are we going this time?” and “Do we have to go?”

We’re going here and yes, we have to go, because I already paid for it.

Hey, I was a homeschooling rookie this past year. Now I’ve learned my lesson: take it easy on the spring activities, no matter how eager you are to get out of the house.

Luckily, Walden Pond was one of our first trips early in the month, so we had yet to succumb to field-trip malaise. The weather was mild (for April) and sunny. Our tour guide did a nice job of summarizing Henry David Thoreau’s life in his Walden Woods cabin.

Of course, you can read all about Thoreau’s two years there, sometimes in excruciating detail, in his book, Walden. One detail he left out — I know, because my 7-year-old asked the tour guide — is where he read the Sunday paper, if you catch my drift. Apparently, Thorough avoided writing about such unseemly bodily functions in Walden. But if you’re into famous-people quotes, Walden is the book in which Thoreau penned the “live the life you’ve imagined” and “march to the beat of a different drummer” lines, except that’s not exactly what he wrote in either case, but most people don’t exactly care as long as the gist is right, and it is.

I understand why Thoreau wanted to live near Walden Pond: as you can see from the photos below, 160 years later, the pond is still beautiful, even before the leaves on the trees around it are in full bloom. Unfortunately, my photos don’t show just how sparkling blue the water is. The pond was formed by receding glaciers from the last ice age, and the water is still absolutely brilliant and blue.

Makes me want to jump in, now that summer is here.

Walden Pond swimming area

In the summer, this is where you find the swimmers.

Walden Pond beach

During the two years Thoreau lived in Walden Woods,
he measured the pond’s dimensions and depth,
and amazingly,
more recent measurement with modern tools have shown
Thoreau’s to be accurate.

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  1. Obi-Mom Kenobi said,

    July 15, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

    Ah, the over-planned first year. I remember it well. Thanks for including the pictures. I never knew Walden Pond was so beautiful. I wish I’d made the trip out to see it when Padawan Learner and I were last in MA. I’m thinking we might need to take a “field trip” this year as we’re planning to learn about early US history… Do you have a seasonal recommendation for a visit to the cabin?

  2. lori said,

    July 16, 2008 @ 8:47 am

    Thanks for your comment, Obi-Mom. 8-)

    If you like to swim, summer is the best time to visit, but that’s also when the most other tourists are around. In fact, capacity at the pond is limited - the beach area is pretty small - so if you get there “too late” in the morning, you have to wait until about 3 in the afternoon to be allowed in.

    If you just want to visit and maybe dip some toes in the water, October would be beautiful. Early October would be warmer, later October would have more color.

    Keep in mind that the original cabin no longer exists; they’ve found where it was, but the wood was used long ago for something else. (Recycling!) You can hike to the site and toss a stone on a big pile of remembrance stones - some people paint messages on them for loved ones, etc.

    As you know, we’re lousy with early American historical sites up here. One that often goes unnoticed, though, is Old Yorke, Maine. I took the kids on a group field trip there, and it was fantastic. The staff made sure everything had a hands-on component for the kids. I don’t know what it would be like if you just dropped by for the day, but the organized field trip was terrific.

  3. writinggb said,

    July 29, 2008 @ 8:26 am

    I’ll have to try the Old Yorke trip — didn’t know about that one. We love Walden in the autumn. Brilliant colors both on trees and in water. Fabulous!

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