On a summer morning in 1849, Henry David Thoreau stepped out his front door to walk the beaches of Cape Cod. Over a century and a half later, Ben Shattuck does the same. With little more than a loaf of bread, brick of cheese, and a notebook, Shattuck sets out to retrace Thoreau's path through the Cape's outer beaches, from the elbow to Provincetown's fingertip.
This walk through Cape Cod is the first of six journeys taken by Shattuck, each one inspired by a journey once taken by Henry David Thoreau. As he first traverses the Cape, then Mount Wachusett, Mount Katahdin, the Allagash, and then his own hometown, Shattuck encounters the unexpected--like the enigmatic millionaire who buys him dinner in a Provincetown pub, or the kind couple who take him in for the night as an oysterman once took in Thoreau--and comes to see for himself the restorative effects that walking can have on a dampened spirit. Over years of following Thoreau, Shattuck finds himself uncovering new insights about family, love, friendship, and impending fatherhood, and understanding more deeply the lessons walking can offer through life's changing seasons.
Interweaving passages from Thoreau's many writings alongside Shattuck's own thinking and memories, Six Walks is an intimate, beautifully crafted meditation on Thoreau's work and personhood, and a resounding tribute to the ways walking in nature can inspire us all.