Early morning at Walden

Last week Grace and Whit weren’t in any camps, because of the 4th of July and our plan to spend the second half of the week with my sister and family (just back from Jerusalem) at my parents’ house on the ocean.  So we had a couple of unscheduled days to play with.  One morning we went, early, to Walden Pond.  That raw March morning when the three of us walked around the pond was almost a year and a half ago.  It is a day that they both still refer to.  It’s funny how that decision, made on a whim, to seek out the quiet of Walden and to trust that my children would respond to its calm yielded one of our most enduring recollections.  A reminder that for me at least it is hard to predict which moments will crystallize into cherished memories, turned over in our minds like touchstones in our pockets, worn smooth with caressing.

We woke to a clear blue early July morning and headed immediately west, hoping to beat the crowds that I know swarm Walden Pond on warm days.  Arriving just before 8, we were almost alone.  The children immediately walked into the water, marveling at how clear it was, and how warm.  All three of us ducked under the first line and swam out, noticing that the water quickly grew darker, debating why this was.  It got deep quickly, Grace noticed.  And it did.  After a bit of a swim we turned around and returned to where they could stand.

Then they played in the shallows chasing schools of almost translucent yellow fish.  Their laughter rang in the quiet air.  I hung back and watched them, hearing Thoreau in my head.  I almost called the children over to quote the famous lines, to make sure they understood the importance of the place we stood.  And then I caught myself.  I didn’t need to point it out to them.  They knew.  They know.

I went to 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.


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  1. Posted July 10, 2012 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes. There is no amount of planning or wisdom that will allow you to assign special weight to a memory.

    Last night we blew off bedtime to spread blankets and unfurl yoga mats to “peel our eyes for bats.” Not a single bat came. but there we stayed, our limbs deliciously tangled, spotting passing planes.

  2. Posted July 10, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I love that picture of her holding him 🙂 So cute.
    What a place! xoxo

  3. Posted July 10, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    We have Thursday night community band concerts in a park that my daughter and I have been going to since the summer she was two. Those Thursday nights have become a “Walden” memory for us. I am so pleased she still inquires about what night is concert night. The photos are beautiful – especially the last one!

  4. Posted July 10, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    You pack a lot of punch in just a few words. I know what you mean about not being able to predict which memories with crystallize. My dad is forever asking me, about my childhood, “Do you remember the time that…?” and the truth is I rarely do. But often times I will remember a more minor, auxiliary memory, and it is clear that it baffles him.

  5. Posted July 10, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    What a blessing it is when the memory I’m hoping will crystallize for them does.

  6. Posted July 10, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I have a wish: to be reincarnated as one of your children. (Barring that, to always be here, reading and watching them grow up nurtured by love and moments like these.)

  7. Posted July 10, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Strangely, ironically even I am reading Walden right now.

  8. Posted July 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful. The images of your sweet children are perfect.

  9. Posted July 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Wish I could have been there… sounds so lovely.