Why I Came Out of the Woods

June 10, 2022

To my knowledge, Henry David Thoreau never explained why he abandoned his experiment in living primitively. He said he had proven his point after a year, but didn’t leaving the lifestyle make a different point?

I’ve been thinking for years about writing a novel that explores the question of why we leave the woods. To me, why we go in is not that puzzling or profound a question. What brings us out, if we do come out?

I will probably be moving to Saranac Lake in the next month or so. It’s a real city claimed as home by about five thousand people, though many live there a month or two out of the year, if that. I already have a job there. I’ve been asked to leave my current place, for unspecified reasons that are undoubtedly dark and nefarious, and, with the skyrocketing housing prices post-COVID, I can’t find anything in the area. Rich city folks need that second home in the woods. They hardly ever visit it, but they need to know it’s there. The people who clean their houses and mow their lawns then have to drive many miles to work, with gas prices through the roof.

Beware of all situations requiring new clothes, Thoreau admonished in Walden, and that’s the shaky ground I’m treading. I haven’t had a dress-up job in many many years, and the few professional clothes I have left look tacky or don’t fit. I’ve been scouring thrift shops and sales trying to put together a few outfits on the cheap. Stockings, shoes, undershirts, dress pants, raincoat, etc. etc. I’m so out of practice.

I would feel better about moving if I had actually found an apartment that I liked, but that hasn’t happened yet. The job is easy hours and decent wages. Saranac Lake may be a bustling place (at least to me), but it’s close to good hiking, mountain biking, and cross country skiing. I think it will be a good change.