Audio: Read by Eren Uman
One of the most frequently quoted lines from Thoreau’s journal is this paean to his native Concord: I have never got over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world – & in the very nick of time, too. But what was he doing on the day that joy spilled forth? As usual, he was walking. It was early December, and he passed some children playing in the snow. He saw a half moon in the afternoon sky and listened to a pair of nuthatches sing tut tut as they swooped by a walnut tree. Then, back home at his desk, he wrote about his day. After sketching a few sprigs of Saint-John’s-wort or pinweed he had seen poking out of the crusted snow, he wrote these ecstatic words.
My themes shall not be far fetched– I will tell of homely everyday phenomena & adventures– Friends–! society–! It seems to me that I have an abundance of it– there is so much that I rejoice & sympathize with – & men too that I never speak to but only know & think of. What you call bareness & poverty – is to me simplicity: God could not be unkind to me if he should try. I love the winter with its imprisonment & its cold – for it compels the prisoner to try new fields & resources– I love to have the river closed up for a season & a pause put to my boating, to be obliged to get my boat in– I shall launch it again in the spring with so much more pleasure– This is an advantage in point of abstinence and moderation compared with the sea-side boating – where the boat ever lies on the shore.– I love best to have each thing in its season only – & enjoy doing without it at all other times. It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. I find it invariably true the poorer I am the richer I am.
What you consider my disadvantage, I consider my advantage– While you are pleased to get knowledge & culture in many ways I am delighted to think that I am getting rid of them. I have never got over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world – & in the very nick of time too.