Out of the Past
Thoreau
March 27






and Other Natural History Essays

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
American Writer

Horses Create The Wind by Ginny Hogan
Horses Create The Wind
by Ginny Hogan

Rocks, Trees, Moss
Rocks, Trees, Moss
Thumbing Through Thoreau
Thumbing Through Thoreau
A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau

On The Study Of Words by Richard C. Trench
On The Study Of Words
by Richard C. Trench

Thoreau the Land Surveyor
Thoreau the Land Surveyor
Walden
Walden
Kindle Edition

The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau

Journal, Volume 5
Journal
Volume 5

Walden, or Life in the Woods Poster
Walden, or Life in the Woods
Poster


Kindle
Kindle
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Two or three times, when a visitor stayed into evening, and it proved a dark night, I was obliged to conduct him to the cart-path in the rear of my house and then point out to him the direction he was to pursue, and in keeping which he was to be guided rather by his feet than his eyes.

One very dark night I directed thus on their way two young men who had been fishing in the pond, who would otherwise have been at a loss what course to take. They lived about a mile off, and were quite used to the woods. A day or two after, one of them told me that they wandered about the greater part of the night, close by their own premises, and did not get home till toward morning.

I have heard of many going astray, even in the village streets, when the darkness was so thick that you could cut it with a knife, as the phrase is. Some who lived in the outskirts, having come to town shopping with their wagons, have been obliged to put up for the night, and gentlemen and ladies making a call have gone half a mile out of their way, feeling the sidewalk only and not knowing when they turned, and were obliged to inquire the vvay at the first house they discovered.

Even one of the village doctors was thus lost in the heart of the village on a nocturnal mission, and spent nearly the whole night feeling the fences and the houses, being, as he said, ashamed to inquire. If one with the vision of an owl, or as in broad daylight, could have watched his motions, they would have been ludicrous indeed.

It is a novel and memorable acquaintance one may make thus with the most familiar objects. It is a surprising and memorable and, I may add, valuable experience to be lost in the woods, especially at night.

Sometimes in a snow-storm, even by clay, one will come out upon a well-known road and yet find it impossible to tell which way leads to the village.

Though your reason tells you that you have travelled it one hundred times, yet no object looks familiar, but it is as strange to you as if it were in Tartary.

By night, of course, the perplexity is infinitely greater. We are constantly steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, though we are not conscious of it, and if we go beyond our usual course we still preserve the bearing of some neighboring cape, and not till we are completely lost or turned round - for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost - do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature.

Every man has once more to learn the points of compass as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or from any abstraction. In fact, not till we are lost do we begin to realize where we are, and the infinite extent of our relations.
1853
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