Eric Miller outside his tent at the Hanscom Fam Camp in Bedford, Nov. 10, 2023, where he has been living and writing since July 3 in emulation of his hero, Henry David Thoreau. Ken McGagh for The Concord Bridge

He came to the woods to write — and hopefully, not freeze 

Visitor draws inspiration from Thoreau by living in a tent all winter 
December 7, 2023

By Jennifer Lord Paluzzi 

Eric Miller is the first to admit he is no Henry David Thoreau. 

Nevertheless, he’s come to the woods — to write, to live his life deliberately, to be known by the staff at the Hanscom FamCamp as “that crazy guy who is living in that big tent all winter.” 

Since relocating to the area from Colorado, Miller has succeeded in writing one book under the pen name of Eric Malsbury: “Cyrano de Bergecat,” the tale of a new girl at school who seeks the hero’s help to find her way.” 

“You know, everyone brags that they’re a bestselling author on some list,” Miller said. “I brag that I’m a three-time Amazon worst-selling author.” 

That remains to be proven.  

Eric Miller walks into his tent at the Hanscom Fam Camp in Bedford,, where he has been living and writing since July 3 in emulation of his hero, Henry David Thoreau. Ken McGagh for The Concord Bridge

In his regular life, Miller is a commander in the U.S. Air Force, where he works as a critical care nurse and paramedic based in Colorado. He’s been all over the world, hitting every continent and more disaster areas than he’d care to remember. 

But what brought him to the Concord area was what he calls his “default to yes” philosophy.  

“Number one: Do I find the idea interesting, remotely interesting, or something I’ve never considered?” he said. “Number two — it has to be a great story. My life is one story after another, one Miller story after another. My friends say I’m the Forrest Gump of real life.” 

That is why, after an inheritance from his aunt, he applied for a Harvard disaster medicine fellowship. Receiving it “was a privilege,” he said. “I’m not of the crop that gets to associate with Harvard. I went to my aunt’s grave and said, ‘Your money is going to send me to Harvard.’” 

It wasn’t just the Ivy League credential that called to him. It was Concord. It was history. It was, as it has been for others before, Thoreau. 

In college, Miller carried a copy of “Walden.” It was a thrill when he saw his first directional sign to Walden Pond as he drove out on July 4. 

“And there I am, my very first day in Massachusetts, on the day that Thoreau moved there, and I’m floating in a kayak on Walden Pond, reading ‘Walden,’” he recalls. 

He took out a post office box in Concord, even though he technically lives in Bedford at Hanscom. He became a frequent visitor to the Concord Library, Concord Museum, and all things Thoreau. 

Eric Miller reads Henry David Thoreau’s “The Concord and the Merrimack” inside his tent at the Hanscom Fam Camp in Bedford. Ken McGagh for The Concord Bridge

And he lived in his tent and planned for winter.  

“I live in Colorado. I’ve worked ski patrol. I’m used to cold weather,” Miller said. “But the cold here is completely different. It’s a wet cold. I’m going to try to live out here, but I’m not crazy — if it gets to be too much, I’ll get an apartment.” 

His tent is large enough to stand inside. One room is his bedroom. Another, which zips outside, holds his bike and supplies. 

The main room has a cozy electric fire and a homey den with a couch, chairs, and books, alongside a small kitchen area. He’s working to further insulate it from the cold. 

Nature, he discovered, has its positives and negatives. He’s learned to identify bird calls. He’s learned the hooting that wakes him almost daily at 2 a.m. is a Great Horned Owl, and he finds it more distracting than the small aircraft that land several times an hour just across the road from his tent. 

“I’m very content with my life,” Miller said. “I don’t want to squander it doing something I hate. 

“This is my year of creative catharsis,” he added. “I’ve written a play; I have other book projects. I don’t write because I want to be a millionaire. I created a book because I couldn’t get it out of my mind.” 

Eric Miller steps out of his tent at the Hanscom Fam Camp in Bedford. Miller wrote and self-published a children’s book while working out of his tent. Ken McGagh for The Concord Bridge