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Chapter Nine: The Ponds
In this chapter, Thoreau talks about some of his activities at Walden Pond. He would go for a walk to Fair Haven Hill and pick huckleberries, which he would have for dinner. Sometimes he would fish, often by himself and occasionally with a friend; he particularly enjoyed fishing at night when he could hear the sounds of owls, foxes, and other wildlife. At other times he would simply sit in his boat, watching the fish and birds or playing his flute.
Thoreau also describes in detail the ponds around his cabin. Walden is, of course, the one to which he gives the most attention. He describes it as a humble pond, clean and in places quite deep, with sand on its bottom and white stones on its shore. It is approximately half a mile long and two miles around. It is set down amidst steep hills, which give enough shade to make the pond take on a lovely blue-green color most of the time. Thoreau praises the pond for its purity, and uses its water for drinking and bathing. He claims he can see the bottom even at depths of thirty feet or more. He even spends some time discussing the history of the pond in terms of its constitution and details the wildlife living in and around its borders.
Walden is only one of several ponds in the area. There is White Pond, which Thoreau thinks is the most beautiful of all, for it is very pristine -- unspoiled by man's presence. Sandy Pond (also called Flint's Pond) is located near Lincoln; with an area of 197 acres, it is the largest in the area. Also, there are Goose and Fair Haven Ponds. The last of this chapter is kind of an ode to ponds in general, wherein Thoreau describes them as the precious crystals of the earth. In fact, he goes as far as to say that if they were jewels that could be contained, they would be carried off as offerings to the emperors around the world. He regrets that more people do not appreciate the beauty of the ponds.
Thoreau describes some of the simple pleasures of his life at Walden. He then goes on to describe the pond itself; the description has intentional metaphorical connotations. He emphasizes the clarity and color of Walden Pond with its green and blue-green tones, suggesting fertility and new life. The color also signifies the birth of spring, and by analogy, the birth of self- knowledge, which Thoreau seeks. Thoreau then addresses at length the beauty of Nature as reflected in the ponds. He calls the ponds crystal jewels and regrets that more people do not appreciate them. He does, however, enjoy the fact that White Pond is largely pristine, unmarred by mankind's presence.