Book Review: Picnics at Walden Pond by Kathryn Klos


LOVES Wooden Canoes
I sailed up a river with a pleasant wind,
New lands, new people, and new thoughts to find;
Many fair reaches and headlands appeared,
And many dangers were there to be feared;
But when I remember where I have been,
And the fair landscapes that I have seen,
Thou seemest the only permanent shore,
The cape never rounded, nor wandered o’er. – Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. – Henry David Thoreau

Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing. – Henry David Thoreau

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures
the depth of his own nature. - Henry David Thoreau, from the chapter “The Ponds” in Walden

It is wonderful how well watered this country is…. Generally, you may go any direction in a canoe, by making frequent but not very long portages. - Henry David Thoreau

The canoe implies a long antiquity in which its manufacture has been gradually perfected. It will ere long, perhaps, be ranked among the lost arts. — Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods

It was inspiriting to hear the regular dip of the paddles, as if they were our fins or flippers, and to realize that we were at length fairly embarked. – Henry David Thoreau

All good things are wild, and free - Henry David Thoreau

However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society. - Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wanted 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 did not wish to live what was not life; living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartanlike as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness out of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience. – Henry David Thoreau

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves – Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. — Henry David Thoreau

This curious world we inhabit…is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used. - Henry David Thoreau

In wildness is the preservation of the world. – Henry David Thoreau

We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. – Henry David Thoreau

To preserve wild animals implies generally the creation of a forest for them to dwell in or resort to. — Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist), from Walking

When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and the most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter the swamp as a sacred place–a sanctum sanctorum.there is the strength, the marrow of Nature.— Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist)

Thank God, they cannot cut down the clouds! — Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist)

The birds I heard today, which, fortunately, did not, within the scope of mind science, sang as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation. — Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist)

I recently had the opportunity to read Picnics at Walden Pond by Kathryn Klos....yes, our very own Kathryn Klos....the one who bats her eyelashes when Morris canoes are mentioned....and who I hope doesn't mind this short book review.

Picnics at Walden Pond is part science fiction (involving time travel among other things)....part love story bridging many, many decades....part well researched historical novel....full of insights into Henry David Thoreau....and life in New England of his time (even details on the dress of women of the day). But more than anything this is a good that I couldn't put down once I started.

In Picnics at Walden Pond, the main character, Frankie Wheat, tells her amazing tale from a first person narrative.

In 2070, after losing her older husband, Frankie is provided a unique opportunity. After years of loveless marriage to man 20 years her senior, she is now in her 60s. But Frankie is much younger in her outlook and spirit.

A device called the “Ouroboros” lets people heal and even regain their youth. But it can also send them back in time. Through this device, Frankie is sent back to 1845, where she meets Henry David Thoreau (who she refers to as “HD”). Having studied Thoreau’s works as a professor of early American literature, Frankie also feels a very special connection to Thoreau through his writing….a connection she will be allowed to develop.

Traveling back in time, Frankie is able to regain the youth of her 20s (and which she is able to retain when she returns to the future). She is only able to stay for a few months. As well, she is prevented from interfering with the time she is sent back to. But Frankie is not prevented from interacting with “HD” in a very personal manner….an interaction that results in the birth of her son.

Back in the future, her son, in his 60s, is told of her adventures that resulted in his conception….of her time with Thoreau….and his own connection to that past….his own heritage and legacy….that he will soon have the chance to experience himself.

Kathryn has crafted a great story….mixing in well researched details of New England of the mid 1800s with a fantastic depiction of a future we are yet to have….literally bringing Henry David Thoreau very much to life.

Read Picnics at Walden Pond and travel back in time yourself….and into an incredible story.
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*Thanks* I'm sooooo glad you liked it!

Action figures often represent heroes who are comic-book characters, so Henry David Thoreau (the action figure) may seem a bit unusual. He has a facebook page, where HDT (the AF) hangs out with Frankie and Ellery and Baby John-- and Channing's Child-- only recently discovered to be female. Mr. Emerson (the action figure) has yet to show up, in part because it's difficult for me to make tiny frock coats.
How or where can one purchase a copy of this story? It's been a long time since I read Walden and I should dust it off for another re-read...but this sounds really interesting Kathryn and I do hope that it is available North of the border.