Economy: Young White Pines

On page 142 of my copy of the book, it is 1845 nearing the end of March and Thoreau is starting the process of building his small house, he first asks to borrow an axe. The owner of this axe states that the axe was “the apple of his eye.” Thoreau then simply projects that, “It is difficult to begin without borrowing” Thoreau then goes down to the woods by the dark icy pond, these woods are filled with youthful tall arrowy white pines and hickories. Here he cuts down the trees and collected timber for the construction of his home.

While reading this I thought of how he was not only borrowing the axe from the man, but also from nature.  Chopping down wood for his home he essentially killed many trees for the purpose of shelter I felt as if the concept of borrowing from nature was present.


2 Replies to “Economy: Young White Pines”

  1. Hi Matt,
    I enjoyed reading your post and how you chose to focus on Thoreau describing the construction of his small house in the woods. I thought your analysis about Thoreau borrowing not only the axe, but also from nature interesting as I initially did not think about the concept of him also borrowing from nature. It does make me question whether or not cutting down trees for ones own use (in this case his house) is considered borrowing, if he is taking it from its original location and uses it in a different area for a different purpose.

  2. Matt–

    I am fascinated by your analysis concerning the theme of borrowing from nature. I would encourage you to expand off this theme, which I had not thought about before, by examining the relationship between borrowing and stealing. Is it really borrowing if the human’s agenda is focused on finding a way to morph organic material into something useful? Do you think humans plan on “returning” what they had supposedly borrowed? Once a tree has been cut down, the likelihood of it returning to its original state is narrow. It seems as though humans steal from nature more than borrow. We take what we want without consciously reflecting on its overall impact. This untreatable habit begins with us simply colonizing the land and establishing civilization.

    The quote you selected from Economy is similarly compelling as it alludes to the idea that we depend on nature as a medium to produce convenience within our daily lives. Do you think it is possible to produce something without borrowing? or shall we say stealing?

    It appears as though humans prioritize their desires to make nature adapt to their needs over the preservation of nature.

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