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Walden Pond

Henry David Thoreau, Don Henley and Me

I visited Walden Pond as a result of the very good luck of marrying Susan Ziegler who was a landscape architect and graduate of the Harvard GSD (graduate school of design) working in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. More luck when a colleague familiar with my photography suggested I vist the Pond. Since I was already accustomed to finding gems in unexpected places I immediately decided I would visit. This suggestion changed my life in a way that reminds me of knocking on Prof. Bose’s door at MIT. Nothing was ever the same again. I tell the story of my becoming acquainted with Walden in the gallery called Water-shields.

My contribution was two-fold: my skill as a photographer and printer and my habit of poking under rocks, metaphorically speaking, which in turn led to my paying attention to small things that often lead to bigger things.

At the time I had only a passing acquaintance with Thoreau but that soon changed for only my second visit to the pond I lucked out by stopping at Wyman’s Meadow on the right day and the right time, a bit of luck that did not repeat itself in 10 more years of photographing Walden.

So perhaps at this time a bit of an introduction to Henry David Thoreau.

Henry David Thoreau

A brief quote from Wikipedia.

“Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher.[A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay "Civil Disobedience" (originally published as "Resistance to Civil Government"), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.

”Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry amount to more than 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, in which he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close observation of nature, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and attention to practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs.”

The Walden Woods Project

Don Henley Rights The Apple Cart

Preservation is rarely in the minds of those who plan. There is a job to be done, and if it means condos within sight of Walden Pond, so be it.

But miracles do happen. Don Henley, who was taken with Thoreau in college, heard of the massive encroachment to come and knew that it should not be. He began an enormous preservation endeavor called The Walden Woods Project.

A large sum from Don and friends and from concerts put on by friends have preserved Greater Walden and added a fabulous library. The following is a quote from Wikipedia.

“In 1989, two commercial development projects were proposed within Walden Woods at Bear Garden Hill and Brister's Hill. Although 60% of Walden Woods was already protected, the threat of encroaching development in Walden Woods prompted grassroots organizers to oppose the plan, and National Trust for Historic Preservation also listed Walden Woods as one of America's Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places.[2][3] Don Henley, who was influenced by Thoreau's writings in college, offered to lend his support to the opposition movement. In 1990, Henley founded the Walden Woods Project, which ultimately purchased both the proposed development sites, as well as other sites. The first of these, a 25-acre site on Bear Garden Hill, was bought in January 1991 costing $3.55 million. Another 25 acres at Boiling Spring was purchased for $1.25 million in April 1992, an 18.6-acre site on Brister's hill for $3.5 million in May 1993, 18 acres at Pine Hill in July 1994 for $1.2 million, and 10 acres at Fair Haven Hill for $900,000 in December 1995. The land acquired for preservation totaled 96 acres in the 1990s. Later 41-acres of land along the Sudbury River was acquired as a gift, and further land as well as the Adams House were bought. An interpretive trail was later designed on Brister's hill, featuring quotes from Thoreau and individuals he influenced, and a section explaining ecological succession.” A quote from Henry David Thoreau at Walden Woods To help cover the cost of the project, Henley organized a series of benefit concerts, which included artists such as Elton John, Aerosmith, Melissa Etheridge, Sting, Jimmy Buffett, John Fogerty, Neil Young, Roger Waters and others.[8][9] In 1992, Henley initiated the recording of a charity album, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, released in 1993 to raise funds for the project.[10] It was certified 3× Platinum in the United States by the RIAA on June 27, 1994.[11] He also donated part of the proceeds from the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over album and tour. Through these and various other fund-raising efforts, which included T-shirt sales and a book Heaven Is Under Our Feet, $15 million were raised by 1996,[8] and $22 million were eventually raised in total.[12] The organization pledged to find a new location for the thwarted housing development planned. They later paid for the appraisal and environmental assessment on a 12-acre site in West Concord.”

Sunset Through Red Leaves, Walden Pond I


Two books and countless memories.

I visited Walden Pond the very good luck of marrying Susan Ziegler who was a landscape architect and graduate of the Harvard GSD (graduate school of design). That in turn led her to a position in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. And that position, in turn, led to a colleague familiar with my photography: “Why doesn’t John go to Walden,” and thus having a singular impact on my photography and my life.

My contribution was two-fold: my skill as a photographer and my habit of poking under rocks, metaphorically speaking which in turn led to my work photograpying around the area around the pond: Greater Walden, which then combined with an association with the Thore4au Society and Don Henley’s Walden Woods Project.

I cannot do justice towriting about any of this which is the reason for the links above.

You can access my five galleries of photographs of greater walden by clicking on GALLERIES.

Devastating Changes to the Climate

The photograph beginning this section does hint at the beauty of the pond and its surroudings but is preface to a much larger issue. The pond, on the day in October when I made this panoramic photograph, should have shown the pond surrounded with colorful trees. The fact that it is not is due to global warming and to the greatest tragedy, at least up to the day I made this photograph, in the history of humanity. As of the day I write this, March 3, 2021, humanity’s effort to save the planet is at least thirty years behind schedule and the result is likely to be catastrophic. It also leads to the profound question of how this could happen when the perpertrators were fully aware of what was happening and their role in it.

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