July 12th, 2013 by

Today is the birthday of American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau, best known for Walden, a celebration of nature and of living simply. So, today, let’s all take a moment to reflect on our own relationship with nature.

Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., where Henry David Thoreau lived and wrote for two years.

Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., where Henry David Thoreau lived and wrote for two years. Credit: Pablo Sanchez

Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wildness — to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

waterfall

Credit: Vern/Flickr

overlooking wildflowers

Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

boat on lake

Credit: Bob White