I first read THE MAINE WOODS while beginning to learn what I could about Maine. Lately I’ve been listening to the audio version from Librivox. Here are some quotations of Thoreau’s observations from his time spent in the Maine woods:
We filed into the rude loggers’ camp at this place, such as I have described, without ceremony, and the cook, at that moment the sole occupant, at once set about preparing tea for his visitors. His fireplace, which the rain had converted into a mud-puddle, was soon blazing again, and we sat down on the log benches around it to dry us. On the well-flattened and somewhat faded beds of arbor-vitæ leaves, which stretched on either hand under the eaves behind us, lay an odd leaf of the Bible, some genealogical chapter out of the Old Testament; and, half buried by the leaves, we found Emerson’s Address on West India Emancipation, which had been left here formerly by one of our company, and had made two converts to the Liberty party here, as I was told; also, an odd number of the Westminster Review, for 1834, and a pamphlet entitled “History of the Erection of the Monument on the Grave of Myron Holly.” This was the readable or reading matter in a lumberer’s camp in the Maine woods, thirty miles from a road, which would be given up to the bears in a fortnight. These things were well thumbed and soiled.
We had soon launched and loaded our boat, and, leaving our fire blazing, were off again before breakfast. The lumberers rarely trouble themselves to put out their fires, such is the dampness of the primitive forest; and this is one cause, no doubt, of the frequent fires in Maine, of which we hear so much on smoky days in Massachusetts. The forests are held cheap after the white pine has been culled out; and the explorers and hunters pray for rain only to clear the atmosphere of smoke. The woods were so wet to-day, however, that there was no danger of our fire spreading.