It’s the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, whose 19th-century meditations on living the simple life altered American culture forever. Amongst his many quotable sentences is this: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” And perhaps just as relevant to the fly-fisher/naturalist: “Time is but the stream I go fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It’s thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
The Writer’s Almanac editors reveal a somewhat uncomfortable connection between Thoreau’s accidental burning of the Concord woods while on a fishing trip and the writing of Walden.