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.


  1. Walden- If you slow down at the curve- and you take either of the two side roads it gets remote very quickly. Very poor area. If you continue on toward Danville, assuming your coming from Hardwick, heading up the hill there is a 4 way intersection and on your right is a little country store(not a quaint one) - at that intersection - bear left. That road leads into the true Walden of Vermont... Its really beautiful out there. Lots of huge old trees, way way up high... its great at this time of year but you should have 4 wheel drive. I really like your comments and encouragement Susan. I also really like how you take a very open approach to looking at a variety of landscape. I keep feeling like I need to focus on a specific series of paintings, but want to keep as much flexibility an you seem to have.

  2. Thanks, Curtis. I'll go out that way and take a look. I've been focusing on towns my first pass through, just to give this sketchbook project more structure but down the line will slow down and turn off the main roads. It's really something how we're such a small state, but there are so many roads off of roads, you could spend your life driving them, and still miss so much.

  3. Beautiful picture you drew, thats our store.
    We closed last summer. I love how you captured this!
    If your ever interested in any info on walden, give me an email jaden3292002@yahoo.com!

  4. Thank you, Jacqui. I'd be happy to send you a copy of the drawing of your store. Sorry it closed.