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Thoreau and the Environment
Henry Thoreau liked to get his feet muddy; all nature was a tonic for him. Nearly every day, year round, he was out walking—exploring and studying every nook and cranny in Walden Woods, Estabrook Woods, and the rest of Concord, and recording in his journals in vivid detail what he heard and smelled and saw. On warm Sunday mornings, he waded up to his shoulders in the Concord River while his neighbors sat high and dry in their church pews. While his neighbors tilled their fields, he climbed the tallest white pine trees he could find in a search for bird nests, pine cones, or a fine view. Thoreau's study of how plant seeds are spread led to his theory of forest succession, accepted today as a key contribution to the field.
Snow-laden pitch pines (Photographer: Herbert Gleason, from The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, 1906)
It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. — Journal, 4 October 1859