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a city on the water

“As we plodded along, either by the edge of the ocean, where the sand was rapidly drinking up the last wave that wet it, or over the sand hills of the bank, the mackerel fleet continued to pour round the Cape north of us, ten or fifteen miles distant, in countless number, schooner after schooner, till they made a city on the water.

They were so thick that many appeared to be afoul of one another; now all standing on this tack, now on that. Still, one after another, the mackerel schooners hove in sight ‘whitening all the sea road’, and we watched each one for a moment with undivided interest. It appeared as if every able-bodied man and helpful boy in the Bay had gone out.”

(Thoreau lived most of his life in Concord, Massachusetts, but was fascinated by the sea. His more than 20 volumes of essays, articles, poetry and journals contain the essence of a nature-based philosophy that we recognize today as environmentalism.)

Henry David Thoreau – Cape Cod (1865)