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by Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau Timeline and Summary

  • Near the end of March, 1845, Thoreau starts work on his cabin by Walden Pond.
  • By the middle of April, the frame of the cabin is set, and he digs a cellar. So far, so good.
  • By May, 1845, with some help from his friends, his cabin is complete. (Wow, that made it sound really easy. Anyone want to help Shmoop build a cabin? It'll take two months, tops.)
  • Thoreau finally settles into life at Walden Pond. He tends to his bean-field, entertains the occasional visitor, and stops by the village from time to time – not too shabby.
  • On one particular trip to the village, Thoreau is arrested for not paying a tax, and he spends the night in jail. (His cabin is kind of like solitary confinement anyway, right?)
  • Back in the game, Thoreau goes for a fishing trip at Baker Farm. At the sound of thunder, he takes shelter with John Field and his family.
  • Thoreau spends a lot of time observing plant and animal life. At one point, he catches ants in the middle of a fierce battle. On the lake, he plays chess with a loon. Sounds like a day in the life of a really lucky middle schooler.
  • At the end of August, Thoreau goes grape-picking. What a grape idea. Yeah, we went there.
  • As fall begins to roll in, our author notices that the colors of the maple trees are starting to turn –very New England.
  • In November, Thoreau – ever the preventive type – starts building a chimney for the winter.
  • As expected, there are quite a few snowstorms, and Walden Pond freezes over.
  • Even in winter, Thoreau has visitors, including a poet and a philosopher. Hey, you take what you can get when it comes to winter visitors in a frozen over pond-side cabin.
  • Thoreau takes some time to visit the surrounding ponds to observe animal behavior.
  • Back on his own turf, our guy cuts a hole in Walden Pond's ice, and observes the fish that are swimming under the surface.
  • More pond fun: Thoreau surveys the pond to determine where its deepest point is. We won't spoil the excitement by telling you the answer.
  • Thoreau observes ice cutters as they harvest ice from Walden Pond. One guess as to whether or not he likes this.
  • At the end of the winter, the ice on the pond begins to melt, and so does the soil.
  • With the onset of spring, the woods begin to fill up with flowers and active animals and birds. You know what this means: more observing.
  • On April 29, Thoreau sees a night-hawk dancing in the sky.
  • By May, more species of birds fill the skies, and pine trees cover the earth with their pollen –sweet, sweet spring.
  • His second year at Walden follows much the same cycle as the first year, but he spends little time discussing it.
  • Thoreau leaves Walden on September 6, 1847.