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MonkeyNotes-Walden by Henry David Thoreau
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Chapter Seventeen: Spring

Summary

In years past, the cutting of the ice would have caused Walden Pond to thaw much earlier; however, Thoreau's first winter at the pond is unseasonably cold, and the thawing process is quite slow. As he waits for the tiresome winter to end, Thoreau keeps copious notes on the melting of the ice on all the area ponds. He also carefully notes the slow coming of spring, eagerly welcoming the first wildflowers and the first young bird; they signify to Thoreau a new beginning filled with hope. For him the greening earth is a "living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit." As spring flourishes, so do Thoreau's spirits. He welcomes back the loons, the brown thrashers, the wood thrushes, and the phoebes and delights in the lush greenery

With the coming of spring, Thoreau has completed the first year of his stay at Walden Pond. Because he has totally enjoyed the experiment and learned so much about Nature and himself, he decides to stay a second year. On September 6, 1847, more than two years after he arrived, Thoreau left Walden Pond for good. He returns to live in society and write his memoirs of his stay in the woods. Walden, however, blends Thoreau's two years by the pond into one.


Notes

This chapter is replete with metaphors and images that signify the rebirth, hope, freshness, and vitality of spring. As the landscape thaws and the green appears, Thoreau spirits soar, and his descriptions of the natural world are colored with joy. Refreshed by the newness of the woods, Thoreau decides to spend a second year in the cabin by Walden Pond. He says that the second year is much like the first. After twenty-six months, Thoreau returns to society to reflect on his experiment in the woods and to write his memoirs about it. The book ends on happily with Thoreau satisfied with what he has learned about Nature and himself.

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