One summer while I was in grad school, I temped as a secretary for a kind working-class boss who remarked, upon seeing me reading Walden, that he had found the book intensely boring. “They made me read that in school,” he said. “It was like sticking needles in my eyes!” I laughed; I agree it can’t be called a page-turner. Still, Walden Pond was where I wanted to be this week. The Transcendentalists feel like just what I need as I try to figure out what personal response I can make to the climate and biodiversity crises threatening our world. I want to withdraw 10% of my IRA retirement savings and start funds to save the open spaces I feel a personal connection to, with Newton’s Webster Woods and Rangeley, Maine’s Orgonon at the top of the list. I want to publicize the fact that I’ve done it and challenge others to do the same. After all, scientists are telling us there might not be a world to retire into if we don’t act dramatically now, and a 10% portfolio decline might happen to any of us due to normal market fluctuations and not be considered a bit deal. So why not make that kind of cut voluntarily, in order to respond to the crises of our age? So far my family and friends are discouraging me: put your own security first, they advise. They mean it lovingly, but that strikes me as the kind of thinking that got us into this global pickle in the first pace. I’ll keep pondering. But at the site of HDT’s former cabin this week, I found many cairns of memorial stones left by visitors, right behind this sign with a great quote of his. “I went to the woods,” Thoreau wrote, “because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach. And not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” I suppose I’m in my own “woods” right now, as I think many of us are; trying to “front the facts” of our extraordinary historical moment, and figure out how to live.