Thoreau's Journal: 30-Nov-1855

On the 27th, when I made my last voyage for the season, I found a large sound pine log about four feet long floating, and brought it home. Off the larger end I sawed two large wheels, about a foot in diameter and seven or eight inches thick, and I fitted to them an axle-tree made of a joist, which also I found in the river, and thus I had a convenient pair of wheels on which to get my boat up and roll it about. The assessors cajoled me into their office this year and said they wished to get an inventory of my property; asked if I had any real estate. No. Any notes at interest or railroad shares? No. Any taxable property? None that I know of. “I own a boat,” I said; and one of them thought that that might come under the head of a pleasure carriage, which is taxable. Now that I have wheels to it, it comes nearer to it. I was pleased to get my boat by this means rather than on a borrowed wheelbarrow. It was fit that the river should furnish the material, and that in my last voyage on it, when the ice reminded me that it was time to put in winter quarters.


Anonymous said...

Did he have no home? Being a latecomer to the readings of Thoreau, I am as a stranger to him, a curious onlooker. Sometimes I am fearful of asking too many questions. I hope you don't mind. Cate

son rivers said...

Cate, I welcome the questions. Not that I'm an expert. But I'm ready for this one. Because just a few weeks ago, we were in Concord, and I wanted to find Thoreau's house. We went all around looking for it, to no avail. I found his birthplace only. So I asked a very talkative and knowledgable man at the information desk in Concord and he laughed. It appears, as he said, Thoreau was a nomad. He lived from place to place, refusing to "own" a place that would actually own him. He never even had a horse, he informed me. Then you'd have to have some place to keep him and feed him, etc etc etc. When he wanted to go some place, say Boston, he'd catch a ride. But he did have his boat.