Such a stiff! That's all we at The Thoreau You Don't Know ever hear about Thoreau. Meanwhile, his journals talk about skating and boating, and all the fun associated with hanging out outside in the cold. In fact, Thoreau is writing at a time when the ideas of work and play were separating. He makes a long joke about skating and collecting wood on the frozen surface of the pond--sort of killing two birds (work and play) with one stone. Work at a house--the kind of work that he wrote about while at the pond--was being more and more described as "women's work." (See Catharine Beecher’s A Treatise on Domestic Economy, published just before Walden.) From the Thoreau You Don't Know:
Most radically, while Beecher attempted to change the perception of work from “vulgar” to “noble,” Thoreau aspired to combine labor and leisure, to make vigorous work more like spontaneous play. “Idle time” was the bane of the new industrial economy. For Thoreau work was itself a pastime. In the roots of the word labor, Thoreau saw an opposite. The Latin noun means work, labor, toil. The Latin verb can mean to slip or to fall away or to glide by. In the “House-Warming” chapter of Walden, the narrator skates across the pond, collecting firewood as he glides joyfully. At a time when work and leisure were first becoming separated in America, Thoreau wrote that “men labor under a mistake,” and the mistake he was talking about was that people were confusing work for work when it could also be play. They were becoming obsessed with making a living and forgetting to have a life.