All the Gold in California

A recent Writer’s Almanac featured Henry David Thoreau , one of my boyhood heroes.     Born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817, Thoreau became a restless young man. He attended Harvard briefly and taught school a few years. After a  stint in his father’s pencil factory, he finally found his niche.

In 1844, Thoreau’s friend Ralph Waldo Emerson bought land on 61-acre Walden Pond two miles from Concord.  Thoreau built a small cabin on its wooded shores and there pursue a simple life, living alone. During his two years on the Pond, Thoreau kept a meticulous diary, which he published in 1854 calling the book Walden, or Life in the Woods.

One summer day, Elsie and I visited Concord touring famous authors’ homes and Walden Pond, paused long at the replica of Thoreau’s cabin. In summers to come, I would have memorable adventures in Thoreau’s Northern Maine haunts, paddling the Allagash and climbed Mount Katahdin with boys.

I’ll never forget the lesson I learned one scary night on the Allagash; or the words of a lad around a campfire the day lowering clouds drove us off Katahdin. You can find those stories on the  Story Tree at

Thoreau’s transcendentalism and civil disobedience aside, I like way he closed Walden, or Life in the Woods: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment (ed. living alone, in the woods) that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

We would do well to ponder Thoreau’s insight and live out our dreams and imagination. I wouldn’t swap my memories for all gold in California.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



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