When Thoreau perceives nature, he sees an inexhaustible source of wisdom, beauty, and spiritual nourishment. He regards it with great respect and awe while also having with it an intimate familiarity and comfort. Many chapters in the book are dedicated to his fond, painstaking observations of the natural world, from the way the ice breaks up on the pond in springtime, to the habits of the rabbits and fish and geese, which he sees as cohabitating with him, to the war between two races of ants that takes place on the ground right outside his cabin.
Nature is the constant backdrop that Thoreau never fails to see, and it becomes a central figure in his life. For one, he lives off it, as it provides him with shelter, food, fuel, and it fulfills all his other physical needs. Furthermore, it is a home that is much bigger than his house or any town; he is always at home because he is always in nature. He notes that Walden Pond is only on the edge of town, only a few miles from where he grew up. In so doing emphasizes that nature and all its rewards are nearby, not only in the faraway lands that people like to fantasize about, and that travel is unnecessary as most people have yet to enjoy and get to know their own backyards. Nature, open to all and free of excess, is the model for his life and the epitome of simplicity and independence.
Nature Quotes in Walden
When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile away from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man. There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of nature.
My Good Genius seemed to say,—Go fish and hunt far and wide day by day,—farther and wider,—and rest thee by many brooks and hearth-sides without misgiving. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures... Grow wild according to thy nature.
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.