Long before tiny houses became trendy and inspired several TV shows, writer Henry David Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days in a small cabin along the banks of Walden Pond near Concord, Mass.

He settled into his simple and solitary existence on July 4, 1845 but kept extra chairs on hand for welcomed visitors.

The pond and surrounding 335 acres, which inspired Thoreau's most well-known book Walden, are now a state park. On summer days, the place often reaches capacity by mid-morning with carloads of nature lovers being turned away or ticketed for parking along a nearby road.

But in the dead of winter, it is much easier to imagine Walden as Thoreau saw it. A recent morning saw a lone fisherman out on the ice. He had caught a single perch.