The Vacation Walden

Thu 6/13/2013. When the industrious Thoreau wrote “we need the tonic of wildness” of the little cottage he built down at the pond, he wrote in a time when people generally thought the outdoors was OK for raising corn and somebody had to do it but otherwise best avoided in preference to a nice bustling city. From our point of view, it wasn’t wildness, it was a vacation cabin. There was nothing wild about it. “Wild” is naked and living off grubs. Walden’s great insight was it was fun to cavort with nature, something Wordsworth and friends had already noted. The Americans were perhaps less inclined to resort to the lake cabin, so many of them having so recently striven so hard to have enough to leave the rural farm, and that was who Walden preached to, the vast rising middle class, that they shouldn’t miss the treat of the lovely quiet nature-oriented vacation.