Walden

by Susan Abbott
The climate and soil may make the Vermonter hard-shelled, but only rarely is he a snapping turtle at heart. His character is more like that of a chambered nautilus, with recesses of beauty not easily seen but nevertheless there...Charles Edward Crane


Place names are redolent with romantic meaning for me, so I was looking forward to exploring Walden. But I drove through without stopping to nose around, as Walden (so far as I could tell at 30 mph) is more of a pronounced curve in Route 15, with a shuttered general store on one side and a frozen brook on the other, than a town with a populated center.

But that doesn't mean that Walden doesn't have an identity for the people who live there, or that my brief view of that bend in the road, brook and empty store didn't produce a memory in me that adds to the Thoreau image previously evoked in my mind's eye by the place name "Walden".

As I'm gathering images for my "Art of Action" proposal and future paintings, I keep returning to a central idea: landscape is powerful. Where we live and what we see everyday effects our character, emotions and health. I'm trying to inventory images that answer these questions: what places define Vermont, what parts of our landscape shape us, what exactly it is that we Vermonters want to preserve and need to protect? I'm finding that sometimes these elements of landscape are as intangible as bends in the road and views to blue mountains.

Walden facts and figures

Click here to see studies for my Art of Action proposal.