They Say It Was My (re)Birthday

Birthday one at the pond: Henry Thoreau is 27 and an eight-day resident of Walden. His journal that year offers no record of revelry on the 12th, no record, in fact, of anything. But one suspects a bit of a celebratory mood or moment in the aftermath of his 7/4 move that would become a rebirthing of self. July’s elastic light and Walden’s cool waters must have made this birthday feel expansive.

One imagines Henry Thoreau at the door of his cabin looking, perhaps, at a little early fog on the pond. Like our fog this morning. Where shall I walk today? When? Perhaps first I’ll watch the sidle of early light as the sun climbs the back of Pine Hill; perhaps this will be the morning later caught so clearly in Walden, where Thoreau is “rapt in a revery amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness” until noon. O, the possibilities.

Looking up into July's pines

Looking up into July’s pines

Henry Thoreau has awoken to no one, to the empty slate of this day; he will be its script. And he will be also its writer, later to become our writer, whose words will lead to a million Waldens. That’s quite a (re)birthday present.

Afternote: Thoreau’s journal picks up again 170 years ago today, on the 14th. It’s a rainy morning and he has this to say: “What sweet and tender, the most innocent and divinely encouraging society there is in every natural object, and so in universal nature even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man…While I enjoy the sweet friendship of the seasons I trust that nothing can make life a burden to me. This rain which is now watering my beans, and keeping me in the house waters me too.”


Filed under General, Henry David Thoreau, Literature, Living Deliberately, Nature, The Roost, Thoreau Quote

2 Responses to They Say It Was My (re)Birthday

  1. Sandy Stott

    “Just now,” each new day. Thanks, Daniel.

  2. Two dates on my personal calendar: Thoreau’s birthday and his death. I confess that the second one causes melancholy. His birthday, however, makes me feel that we get a new opportunity.

    What you did last year? It does not matter. Don’t live any way another year. Live deliberately just now.

    Happy birthday, Henry! :)