When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, with my dog Scrappy.
Scrappy is a dachshund mix I got from a "breeder" in Lexington. She met me in the back of the Stop and Shop and fished him from a crate of puppies in the backseat. $150 cash. No receipt, no worries. A man is rich in proportion to the number of bullshit things he doesn't have to worry about.
To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. To be awake is to be alive.
But at 4:30am? Christ, Scrappy. I awaken to the incessant lap of his tongue on his under-parts. Desperate, I resort to earplugs. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation trying to drown out such sounds.
I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the northstar, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.
Plus I have this fucking dog. Who barks when a cricket scratches its ear.
I have surveyed a great many ponds in the neighboring towns and found none as delightful as this glacial Concord habitat, a home to the perch and pickerel, raccoon and robin, Scrappy and me.
Neither Flint's Pond, nor Sandy's, nor Goose Pond nor White in towns adjacent to ours can weather the "different-drummers" we drop in them and yet remain so crystal clear as Walden.
A pond is the Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. Ol' Scrap really likes it here too a lot.
The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. Perhaps
dare I say it
man to dog? Maybe I've been in the woods too long.
I served as host to fewer guests as autumn came and winter following.
My dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from neighbors. Little I had for sustenance aside from that which I stored for me and Dr. Scrap-enstein.
In the cellar I kept a firkin of potatoes, two quarts of peas with the weevil in them, a little rice, a jug of molasses, and a dozen bags of Beef 'n Bacon Beggin' Strips™.
Though visitors were fewer in the short days of winter, there was the industrious woodchuck, and the barred owl, and my mom who brought Indian tea and johnnycakes.
We weathered many snowstorms, and spent cheerful winter evenings by the fireside. In the scant daylight winter afforded us, Scrappy and I would take turns pissing figure-8s on the pond's thick ice.
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.
Oh, and the sound of Scrappy still licking his arse. What manner of vermin is nesting up there? I must take him to a specialist in Acton.
Ol' Scrap is dead, but that is not why I'm leaving the woods.
Don't get me wrong, I love the woods, they're great and all, but it seemed like I have several more lives to live.
Unlike Scrap! I weighted him with buckshot and he sank deep into the middle of Walden Pond
far from the jaws of our local coyote pack. Those guys sure know how to suck the marrow out of life.
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