THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Summer Foliage, Walden Pond
THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
EDITED BY BRADFORD TORREY
DECEMBER 1, 1853-AUGusT 31, 1854
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
Ube Hibersite press, Cambribge
COPYRIGHT 1906 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
All rights reserved
CHAPTER I. December, 1853 (ET. 36) 3
The Ever-Reds The Penobscot and the Concord Tree
Sparrows- Muskrats' Galleries- The Power of Waves-
Fresh-Water Clams- A Fire in the Snow -Ancient Inscrip-
tions The Evergreens of the Forest Floor An Owl -
Ice-Crystals An Optical Puzzle Gray Squirrels Hoar
Frost Lecturing and Surveying Getting a Christmas-Tree
Cocoons A Talk with Therien The Whooping of the
Pond Cities viewed as Wharves Snow on Trees- An
Irishman seeking Work Drifting Snow Race-Extinction
The Snowed-up Village The Snow Bunting Another
Talk with Therien Measuring the Snow Hibernation -
The Sweetness of Sound A Gray Squirrel's Track.
CHAPTER II. January, 1854 (lET. 36) 42
Snow-Drifts Footprints in the Snow Indian Oratory -
A Precious Stone Snow-Fleas A Walk with Tappan -
Crime among the Iroquois The Hooting of an Owl At-
mosphere in Landscape A Downy Woodpecker Gilpin
on Beauty Gilpin on Landscape Another Walk with Tap-
pan Nature's Winter Palace Rain and Thaw A Puz-
zling Sound Cato on Farming A Coat from the Tailor's
Notes from Cato Dr. T. W. Harris Notes from Varro
Before-Light Occupations Notes from Josselyn An
Old Account-Book An Auction Three Kinds of Ice -
More Notes from Varro A White Hare Up River on the
Ice and Snow The Uses of Winter A Mild Winter Day-
A Load of Bark Winter Thoughts.
CHAPTER III. February, 1854 (XET. 36) 90
The Anticipation of Spring The Attractions of the Hollo-
well Farm Notes from Varro Old Account-Books -
Man and his House A Fox's Track The Heroism of the
Muskrat Sand Foliage The Trail of the Fox- Notes
from Sir U. Price on the Picturesque A Fire on the Ice -
Cato on Farming Varro on Country Life A Soft Air -
Therien and the Chickadees Roman Ninth-Day Towns
Snow-Fleas The Catkins of the Alder and the Willow -
An Ice-Fleet Skating A Muskrat-House The Thun-
dering of the Pond Some Winter Birds White Rabbits -
Columella on Climate Tracks in the Snow Gowing's
Swamp Congress Promethea Cocoons Lichens and
Study- Building a Fire New-fallen Snow Snow-Drifts
Measuring tb.e Ice Tracks in the Snow Notes from
Kane A Freezing Rain Rabbits.
CHAPTER IV. March, 1854 (,rT. 36) 145
The First Spring Morning The Birds of the Winter The
First Bluebird The Sand Foliage Golden Senecio Leaves
The Melting of the Ice Nut Meadow Brook Linger-
ing Snow A Bluebird Mountain Cranberry Rock-
Tripe Ducks on the River A Skunk The Air full of
Birds Water and Ice Blue Water Clark on Telescopes
A Company of Fox-colored Sparrows Song Sparrows and
Ducks A High Wind- Black Ducks Minott's Home-
keeping- March Weather- Saint-Hilaire -Instinct in Criti-
CHAPTER V. April, 1854 (iET. 36) 180
Dry Weather The Flicker's Cackle The River falling -
Hawks and Farmers Butterflies and Frogs The Lec-
turer's Theme The Croaking Frogs Criticising a Compo-
sition Sundry Birds and Flowers Man and Music- An
Injury to the River A Wood Fungus A Sparrow in the
House Politeness and Simplicity Statistics and the Ameri-
can Mind Snipes on the Meadow April Snow Early
Vegetation Bees and Willow Blossoms Wisdom and Liv-
ing Vegetation and Birds Some April Birds A White-
headed Eagle Two Mergansers Shepherd's-Purse The
Ruby-crowned Wren Snoring Frogs- Myrtle-Birds -An
Unprofaned Hour Faithfulness to one's Genius The Rise
and Fall of Walden Supply and Demand A Blue Heron.
CHAPTER VI. May, 1854 (lET. 36) 231
Muskrat-Shooting The Leafing of Trees and Shrubs -
Observation and Life The Viola ovata Dark-blue Water
The Muskrat-Hunters Flowers and the Weather The
Fall of the Oak Leaves The Waves on the Meadow A
Small Hawk Sailing on the River Fighting Tortoises -
Long Wharf The Oven-Bird Two Snakes Tall's Island
A Talk with Rice The Leafing Trees A Distant Thun-
der-Shower The Earliest Trees to leaf After the Shower
The First Warm Weather Sundry Birds Nuttall's
"Sylva" Up River with Sanborn- A Boiling Spring -
Young Oak Leaves A Snapping Turtle Another Snap-
ping Turtle The Leafing of the Woods The Turtle's
Snapping-- Sailing in a Light Breeze Oak Galls Leafing
Trees and Shrubs The Song of the Meadows The Sum-
mer Morning Air Dragon-Flies A Button-Bush Hummock
Conantum The Crickets' Song The Bent Grass on the
Water The Limitations of Nature Bank Swallows An-
dromeda Polifolia The Order of Leafing A Rose-breasted
Grosbeak Rye The Pincushion Oak Galls Toads,
Frogs, and Insects The Whortleberry Family The In-
humanity of Science Shad-Flies The Anthony Burns Case
Massachusetts and Slavery Arethusa and Wild Pink A
Greater Telltale Old Election Day.
CHAPTER VII. June, 1854 (lET. 36) 320
Oak Galls The Birth of Shadow A Flight of Ephemere
The River Clams The Injustice of Fame A Night-
hawk Painted Tortoises laying Eggs Oak Leaves -
Tracks of Turtles A Snapping Turtle "Artificial Wants"
The Great Fringed Orchis The Anthony Burns Affair -
The Upper Sudbury River The Evergreen-Forest Bird -
River-Plants The Cricket's Homely Chirp Harvest-Flies
-Dew The Water-Lily Flowers and Morality The
Anthony Burns Affair again Beauty and Baseness Wild
Roses Mountain Laurel An Ocean of Fog The Fugi-
tive Slave Law and the Constitution The Season of Small
Fruits The Burns Affair A Snapping Turtle's Nest -
The Tweezer-Bird A Free-Man Party wanted A Thun-
der-Shower A School of Young Pouts Grassy Hollows -
Miscellaneous Notes Large Black Birches.
CHAPTER VIII. July, 1854 (X/r. 36-37) 380
Red Lilies The Pontederias Bathing A Box Tortoise
The River by Moonlight Birds in July The Reign of
River Weeds A Pickerel Blueberries The Bay-Wing's
Song Pontederia The Closing of the Water-Lilies -
Noonday on the River A Hot Midsummer Day An Up-
Country Eden Bees in Bass Trees A Thunder-Shower -
Hot Weather and Showers The Shorn Fields- Yellow
Butterflies The Afternoon of the Year.
CHAPTER IX. August, 1854 (XET. 37) 415
Society and Privacy A Still Evening A Specimen Copy
of "Walden"-The River's Brim -The Meadow-Haying -
Tarbell Hills The Off Side of Summer The Sting of a
Wasp "Walden" published Purple Grass- Viburnum
nudum Berries August Birds The Fall of the Brakes -
A Yearning for Solitude Apple Trees The Smoke of a
Meadow Burning Natural Terraces Through Unknown
Country In Acton and Carlisle A Microscope A Walk
with John Russell Shadows and Reflections Blanding's
Tortoise Murder for the Sake of Science Myriophyllum -
The Meadow seen through Haze A Thin, Dry Soil Bird-
Life in August A Wounded Sucker Clams and their
Tracks Eupatorium purpureum A Prairial Walk -
Dead Fishes and Blue Heron Gowing's Swamp Lily Pads
Dog-Day Haze Purple Grass Snapping Turtles' Eggs
Miles and the Mud Turtles Th6 "Castile Soap" Gall -
Walks across Lots Dying Fishes The Gall Insect's Egg
Cooler Weather The Lecturer's Threshing Drought -
Smoke in the Air.
SUMMER FOLIAGE, WALDEN POND (page 328)
THE LEANING HEMLOCKS IN WINTER 94
SHAD-BUSH IN BLOSSOM 254
GREAT FRINGED ORCHIS 338
FERNS IN CLINTONIA SWAMP 406
THE JOURNAL OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
DECEMBER, 1853 (,ET. 36)
Dec. 1. 4 P. M. To Cliffs.
We may infer that every withered culm of grass or
sedge, or weed that still stands in the fields, answers
some purpose by standing.
Those trees and shrubs which retain their withered
leaves through the winter shrub oaks and young
white, red, and black oaks, the lower branches of larger
trees of the last-mentioned species, hornbeam, etc., and
young hickories -seem to form an intermediate class
between deciduous and evergreen trees. They may al-
most lie called the ever-reds. Their leaves, which are
falling all winter long, serve as a shelter to rabbits and
partridges and other winter quadrupeds and birds. Even
the little chickadees love to skulk amid them and peep
out from behind them. I hear their faint, silvery, lisp-
ing notes, like tinkling glass, and occasionally a
sprightly day-day-day, as they inquisitively hop nearer
and nearer to me. They are our most honest and
innocent little bird, drawing yet nearer to us as the
winter advances, and deserve best of any of the
Dec. 2. As the stars, though spheres, present an out-
line of many little points of light to our eyes, like a
flower of light, so I notice to-night the horns of the new
moon appear split.
The skeleton which at first sight excites only a shud-
der in all mortals becomes at last not only a pure but
suggestive and pleasing object to science. The more
we know of it, the less we associate it with any goblin
of our imaginations. The longer we keep it, the less
likely it is that any such will come to claim it. We dis-
cover that the only spirit which haunts it is a universal
intelligence which has created it in harmony with all
nature. Science never saw a ghost, nor does it look for
any, but it sees everywhere the traces, and it is itself
the agent, of a Universal Intelligence.
A communication to a newspaper, dated Bangor, 28th
(November), says of the Penobscot: "The navigation
is closed here, the anchor ice with the surface ice mak-
ing an obstruction of several feet thickness. There are
enclosed in the ice from 60 to 80 vessels with frill car-
goes, besides the steamers. The ice obstruction
extends about five miles," etc. There is still no ice in
the Concord River, or the skimming which forms along
the shore in the night almost entirely disappears in the
day. On the 30th I paddled on it in the afternoon,
and there was not a particle of ice, and even in the
morning my constantly wet hands were not cold.
The latitude of Lynn church is 420 27' 51". Calling
Concord, at a venture, 420 27', Bangor being 440 471
50", the difference equals about 20 21'. The length of
a degree of latitude in Italy (430 1') being, according
to Boscovich and Lemaire's measurement, 68.998 Eng-
lish miles, call it in this case 69 miles, and the differ-
ence of latitude in miles between B. and C. is about
Dec. 3. P. M. Up river by boat to Clamshell Hill.
Saw two tree sparrows on Monroe's larch by the
waterside. Larger than chip-birds, with more bay
above and a distinct white bar on wings, not to men-
tion bright-chestnut crown and obscure spot on breast;
all beneath pale-ash. They were busily and very adroitly
picking the seeds out of the larch cones. It would
take man's clumsy fingers a good while to get at one,
and then only by breaking off the scales, but they
picked them out as rapidly as if they were insects on
the outside of the cone, uttering from time to time a
faint, tinkling chip.
I see that muskrats have not only erected cabins, but,
since the river rose, have in some places dug galleries
a rod into the bank, pushing the sand behind them
into the water. So they dig these now as places of re-
treat merely, or for the same purpose as the cabins,
apparently. One I explored this afternoon was formed
in a low shore (Hubbard's Bathing-Place), at a spot
where there were no weeds to make a cabin of, and
was apparently never completed, perhaps because the
shore was too low.
The ranunculus is still a fresh bright green at the
bottom of the river. It is the evergreen of the river,
and indeed resembles the common running evergreen
(Lycopodium, I think it is called).
I see along the sides of the river, two lo four inches
above the surface but all at one level, clear, drop-shaped
crystals of ice, either held up by some twig or hanging
by a dead vine of climbing mikania. They are the re-
mains of a thin sheet of ice, which melted as the river
went down, and in drops formed around and ran down
these cores and again froze, and, being thicker than
the surrounding ice, have outlasted it.
At J. Hosmer's tub spring, I dug out a small bull-
frog ( ?) in the sandy mud at the bottom of the tub it
was lively enough to hop and brought it home. Prob-
ably they lie universally buried in the mud now, below
the reach of frost. In a ditch near by, under ice half
an inch thick, I saw a painted tortoise moving about.
The frogs then are especially to be looked for in the
mud about springs.
It is remarkable how much power I can exert through
the undulations which I produce by rocking my boat
in the middle of the river. Some time after I have
ceased I am surprised to hear the sound of the undula-
tions which have just reached the shores acting on the
thin ice there and making a complete wreck of it for a
long distance up and down the stream, cracking off
pieces four feet wide and more. I have stirred up the
river to do this work, a power which I cannot put to
rest. The secret of this power appears to lie in the ex-
treme mobility, or, as I may say, irritability, of this ele-
ment. It is the principle of the roller, or of an immense
weight moved by a child on balls, and the momentum
Some of the clamshells, freshly opened by the musk-
rats and left lying on their half-sunken cabins, where
they are kept wet by the waves, show very handsome
rainbow tints. I examined one such this afternoon. The
hinge of the shell was not broken, and I could discover
no injury to the shell, except a little broken off the
edges at the broadest end, as if by the teeth of the rat
in order to get hold, insert its incisors. The fish is con-
fined to the shell by strong muscles at each end of each
valve, and the rat must dissolve the union between both
of these and one side of the shell before he can get it
open, unless the fish itself opens it, which perhaps it
cannot wide enough. I could not open one just dead
without separating the muscle from the shell. The
growth of the mussel's shell appears to be in somewhat
concentric layers or additions to a small shell or eye.
The clam which I brought home the 30th ult., and
left outdoors by mistake, I now find frozen to death.
J. Hosmer told me the other day that he had seen a
man eat many of these clams raw and relish them. It
is a somewhat saddening reflection that the beautiful
colors of this shell for want of light cannot be said to
exist, until its inhabitant has fallen a prey to the spoiler,
and it is thus left a wreck upon the strand. Its beauty
then beams forth, and it remains a splendid cenotaph
to its departed tenant, symbolical of those radiant
realms of light to which the latter has risen.- what
glory he has gone to. And, by the way, as long as they
remain in "the dark unfathomed caves of ocean,"
8 JOURNAL [DEC. 3
they are not gems of purest ray serene," though
fitted to be, but only when they are tossed up to
Probably the muskrat inserts his incisors between the
edges of the shells (and so crumbles them) in order to
pry them open. Some of these shells at Clamshell Hill,
whose contents were cooked by the Indians, are still
entire, but separated. Wood has spread a great many
loads over his land. People would be surprised to learn
what quantities of these shellfish are annually con-
sumed by the muskrat. Their shells help convert the
meadow mud or river sediment into food for plants.
The Indians generally -I have particularly observed
it in the case of the Penobscots -make a very exten-
sive use of the muskrat for food, .and from these heaps
it would seem that they used the fresh-water clam ex-
tensively also, these two peculiarly indigenous ani-
mals. What if it were calculated how often a muskrat
rises to his stool on the surface of the ice with a mussel
in his mouth and ejects the tenant, taking the roof ?
It is as if the occupant had not begun to live until
the light, with whatever violence, is let into its shell
with these magical results. It is rather a resurrection
than a death. These beaming shells, with the tints of
the sky and the rainbow commingled, suggest what pure
serenity has occupied it.
Look at the trees, bare or rustling with sere brown
leaves, except the evergreens, their buds dormant at
the foot of the leaf-stalks. Look at the fields, russet
and withered, and the various sedges and weeds with
dry bleached culms. Such is our relation to nature at
A FIRE IN THE SNOW
present; such plants are we. We have no more sap
nor verdure nor color now.
I remember how cheerful it has been formerly to sit
around a fire outdoors amid the snow, and, while I felt
some cold, to feel some warmth also, and see the fire
gradually increasing and prevailing over damp, steam-
ing and dripping logs and making a warm hearth for
When I see even these humble clamshells lying open
along the riverside, displaying some blue, or violet, or
rainbow tints, I am reminded that some pure serenity
has occupied them. (I sent two and a half bushels of
my cranberries to Boston and got four dollars for them.)
There the clam dwells within a little pearly heave% of
But even in winter we maintain a temperate cheer
and a serene inward life, not destitute of warmth and
melody. Only the cold evergreens wear the aspect of
summer now and shelter the winter birds.
Layard discovers sculptured on a slab at Kouyunjik
(Nineveh) machines for raising water which I perceive
correspond exactly to our New England well-sweeps,
except that in the former case the pole is balanced on
a shaft of masonry." He observes that it is still gener-
ally used for irrigation in the East, as well as in south-
ern Europe, and called in Egypt a shadoof."
Dec. 4. Sunday. The coldest day yet, clear with
considerable wind, after the first cloudless morning for
a week or two. Goose Pond apparently froze over last
Wilkinson exhibits it from the Egyptian sculptures.
night, all but a few rods, but not thick enough to bear.
I see a lizard [sic] on the bottom under the ice. No
doubt I have sometimes mistaken them for tadpoles.
(Flint's Pond only skimmed a little at the shore, like
the river.) The ice of Goose Pond already has a dusty
look. It shows the crystals distinctly.
Dec. 5. P. M. Got my boat in. The river frozen
over thinly in most places and whitened with snow,
which was sprinkled on it this noon.
4 P. M. -To Cliffs.
Many living leaves are very dark red now, the only
effect of the frost on them,-the checkerberry, andro-
meda, low cedar, and more or less lambkill, etc. Saw
and heard a downy woodpecker on an apple tree. Have
not many winter birds, like this and the chickadee, a
sharp note like tinkling glass or icicles ? The chip of
the tree sparrow, also, and the whistle of the shrike, are
they not wintry in the same way? And the sonorous
hooting owl? But not so the jay and Fringilla linaria,
and still less the crow. Now for the short days and
early twilight, in which I hear the sound of woodchop-
ping. The sun goes down behind a low cloud, and the
world is darkened. The partridge is budding on the
apple tree and bursts away from the path-side. Fair
Haven Pond is skimmed completely over. The ground
has been frozen more or less about a week, not very
hard. Probably stiffened the 3d so as to hinder spad-
ing, but softened afterward. I rode home from the
woods in a hay-rigging, with a boy who had been col-
lecting a load of dry leaves for the hog-pen; this the
1853] ANCIENT INSCRIPTIONS
third or fourth load. Two other boys asked leave to
ride, with four large empty box-traps which they were
bringing home from the woods. It was too cold and
late to follow box-trapping longer. They had caught
five rabbits this fall, baiting with an apple.' Before I
got home the whole atmosphere was suddenly filled
with a mellow yellowish light equally diffused, so that
it seemed much lighter, around me than immediately
after the sun sank behind the horizon cloud, fifteen
minutes before. Apparently not till the sun had sunk
thus far did I stand in the angle of reflection.
It is a startling thought that the Assyrian king who
with so much pains recorded his exploits in stone at
Nineveh, that the story might come down to a distant
generation, has indeed succeeded by those means which
he used. All was not vanity, quite.
Layard, at the lake of Wan, says: Early next morn-
ing I sought the inscriptions which I had been assured
were graven on the rocks near an old castle, standing
on a bold projecting promontory above the lake. After
climbing up a dangerous precipice by the help of two
or three poles, in which large nails had been inserted
to afford a footing, I reached a small natural cave in
the rock. A few crosses and ancient Armenian letters
were rudely cut near its entrance. There was nothing
else, and I had to return as I best could, disappointed,
as many a traveller has been under similar circumstances
before me." They were not old enough; that was all.
Wait a thousand years and you will not be disap-
[Channing, p. 108.]
Dec. 7. Wednesday. P. M. To Trillium Woods
and Hubbard's Close.
In the latter part of November 1 and now, before the
snow, I am attracted by the numerous small evergreens
on the forest floor, now most conspicuous, especially
the very beautiful Lycopodium dendroideum, somewhat
cylindrical, and also, in this grove, the variety obscurum
of various forms, surmounted by the effete spikes, some
with a spiral or screw-like arrangement of the fan-like
leaves, some spreading and drooping. It is like looking
down on evergreen trees. And the L. lucidulum of the
swamps, forming broad, thick patches of a clear liquid
green, with its curving fingers; also the pretty little
fingers of the cylindrical L. clavatum, or club-moss, zig-
zagging amid the dry leaves; not to mention the spread-
ing openwork umbrellas of the L. complanatum, or flat
club-moss, all with spikes still. Also the liquid wet
glossy leaves of the Chimaphila (winter or snow-lov-
ing) umbellata, with its dry fruit. Not to mention the
still green Mitchella repens and checkerberry in shelter,
both with fruit; gold-thread; Pyrola secunda, with
drooping curled-back leaves, and other pyrolas; and,
by the brooks, brooklime ( ? ) (I mean such as at Cliff
Brook and at brook in E. Hubbard's Swamp).2 There
is the mountain laurel, too. The terminal shield fern
is quite fresh and green, and a common thin fern,
though fallen. I observe the beds of greenish cladonia
S[The words "the latter part of are crossed out in ink, but the
word "retain," followed by an interrogation-point, is written over
2 Golden saxifrage. [" Brooklime" is crossed out in pencil.]
1853] AN OWL 13
lichens. Saw a wood tortoise stirring in the now open
brook in Hubbard's Swamp.
Dec. 8. 7 A. M. How can we spare to be abroad
in the morning red, to see the forms of the leafless
eastern trees against the dun sky and hear the cocks
crow, when a thin low mist hangs over the ice and frost
in meadows ? I have come along the riverside in Mer-
rick's pasture to collect for kindling the fat pine roots
and knots which the spearers dropped last spring, and
which the floods have washed up. Get a heaping
bushel-basketful. The thin, trembling sheets of im-
perfectly cemented ice or ice-crystals, loosened by the
warmth of the day, now go floating down the stream,
looking like dark ripples in the twilight and grating
against the edges of the firm ice. They completely fill
the river where it is bridged with firmer ice below.
I observed a place on the shore where a small circle
of the withered grass was feathered white with frost,
and, putting down my hand, felt the muskrat's hole in
the bank which was concealed to my eye. I often see
this, and at .woodchuck-holes. Yet you may see the
same over the edge of many a hole, however shallow.
At midday (3 P. M.) saw an owl fly from toward the
river and alight on Mrs. Richardson's front-yard fence.
Got quite near it, and followed it to a rock on the heap
of dirt at Collier's cellar. A rather dark. brown owl
above (with a decided owl head (and eyes), though not
very broad), with longitudinal tawny streaks (or the
reverse), none transverse, growing lighter down the
breast, and at length clear rusty yellowish or cream-
color beneath and about feathered feet. Wings large
and long, with a distinct large black spot beneath; bill
and claws, I think, black. Saw no ears. Kept turning
its head and great black eyes this way and that when
it heard me, but appeared not to see me. Saw my
shadow better, for I approached] on the sunny side.
I am inclined to think it the short-eared owl, though I
could see no ears, though it reminded [me] of what I
had read of the hawk owl. It was a foot or more long
and spread about three feet. Flew somewhat flappingly,
yet hawk-like. Went within two or three rods of it.
Walden at sunset.
The twilights, morn and eve, are very clear and
light, very glorious and pure, or stained with red, and
prolonged, these days. But, now the sun is set, Walden
(I am on the east side) is more light than the sky, -
a whiteness as of silver plating, while the sky is yel-
lowish in the horizon and a dusky blue above.' Though
the water is smooth enough, the trees are lengthened
dimly one third in the reflection. Is this phenomenon
peculiar to this season ? Goose Pond now firmly frozen.
It had melted since it froze before.
I see there a narrow open channel in the ice, two
and a half rods long and six inches wide, leading
straight to a muskrat-house by the shore, apparently
kept open by them. Snow will soon come, in a measure
I The next night but one just like this, a little later. I saw from the
peak the entire reflection of large white pines very distinctly against a
clear white sky, though the actual tree was completely lost in night
against the dark distant hillside.
to restore the equilibrium between night and day by
prolonging the twilight.
I was amused by R. W. E.'s telling me that he drove
.his own calf out of the yard, as it was coming in with
the cow, not knowing it to be his own, a drove going
by at the time.
Dec. 9. The third (at least) glorious day, clear and
not too cold (this morning a leaf frost on the rails a
third of an inch long), with peculiarly long and clear
cloudless silvery twilights morn and eve, with a stately,
Above all, deliver me from a city built on the site
of a more ancient city, the materials of the one being
the ruins of the other. There the dwellings of the liv-
ing are in the cemeteries of the dead, and the soil is
blanched and accursed.
Dec. 10. Another still more glorious day, if possible;
Indian-summery even. These are among the finest
days in the year, on account of the wholesome bracing
coolness and clearness.
Paddled Cheney's boat up Assabet.
Passed in some places between shooting ice-crystals,
extending from both sides of the stream. Upon the
thinnest black ice-crystals, just cemented, was the
appearance of broad fern leaves, or ostrich-plumes, or
flat fir trees with branches bent down. The surface
was far from even, rather in sharp-edged plaits or folds.
The form of the crystals was oftenest that of low, flat-
tish, three-sided pyramids; when the base was very
broad the apex was imperfect, with many irregular
rosettes of small and perfect pyramids, the largest with
bases equal to two or three inches. All this appeared
to advantage only while the ice (one twelfth of an inch
thick, perhaps) rested on the black water.
What I write about at home I understand so well,
comparatively! and I write with such repose and free-
dom from exaggeration.
Dec. 11. Sunday. P.M. -To Heywood's Pond and
Almost a complete Indian-summer day, clear and
warm. I am without greatcoat. Channing says he
saw larks yesterday, a painted tortoise day before
yesterday under ice at White Pond, and a ground-
robin (?) last week. We find Heywood's Pond frozen
five inches thick. There have been some warm suns
on it, and it is handsomely marbled. I find, on looking
closely, that there is an indistinct and irregular crack
or cleavage in the middle of each dark mark, and I
have no doubt the marbling is produced thus, viz., the
pond, at first all dark, cracks under a change of tem-
perature, it is expanded and cracked in a thousand
directions, and at the same time it gradually grows
wlite as the air-bubbles expand, but wherever there is
a crack in it, it interferes with the rays of heat, and the
ice for a short distance on each side of it retains its
original color. The forms into which the ice first cracks
under a higher temperature determine the character of
the marbling. This pond is bordered on the northeast
with much russet sedge (?) grass beneath the bushes,
AN OPTICAL PUZZLE
and the sun, now falling on the ice, seems to slide or
glance off into this grass and light it up wonderfully,
filling it with yellowish light. This ice being whitened
and made partially opaque by heat, while the surface
is quite smooth, perhaps from new freezing then, it
reflects the surrounding trees, their forms and colors,
distinctly like water. The white air-bubbles are the
quicksilver on the back of the mirror.
R. W. E. told me that W. H. Channing conjectured
that the landscape looked fairer when we turned our
heads, because we beheld it with nerves of the eye
unused before. Perhaps this reason is worth more for
suggestion than explanation. It occurs to me that the
reflection of objects in still water is in a similar manner
fairer than the substance, and yet we do not employ
unused nerves to behold it. Is it not that we let much
more light into our eyes, which in the usual position
are shaded by the brows, -in the first case by turning
them more to the sky, and in the case of the reflections
by having the sky placed under our feet? i. e. in both
cases we see terrestrial objects with the sky or heavens
for a background or field. Accordingly they are not
dark and terrene, but lit and elysian.
* Saw a mink at Clamshell Hill on ice. They show
the back in swimming.
Dec. 15. Thursday. Fishing through ice began on
Flint's and Fair Haven yesterday. The first fishers
9.30 A. M. Surveying near Strawberry Hill for
Smith and Brooks.
In Brooks's barn I saw twenty-two gray squirrel
skins freshly tacked up. He said that as many as one
.hundred and fifty had been killed this fall within a
mile of his barn. They had been very numerous. His
brother killed sixteen in one day a month ago. There
was one alive and loose in the barn, which had made a
nest of husks in one corner. It could not get out, but
had gnawed in many 'places. He had had four alive
there at once, and they would not go off when they got
out. You can get many more gray than red squirrels.
The former often run into the ground; a dog trees the
latter. October and November are the squirrel months,
when the trees are bare of leaves. The red will drive
the gray before it. The gray's nest always leaves; the
red's grass, fibres of bark, etc. A few years ago he
took one bushel and three pecks of shelled walnuts out
of a hollow walnut tree, laid up by red squirrels, a
dozen of them.
Nagog appears to have been frozen earlier than our
He had ten live pigeons in a cage under his
barn. He used them to attract others in the spring.
The reflections from their necks were very beautiful.
They made me think of shells cast up on a beach. He
placed them in a cage on the bed and could hear them
prate at the house.
Are we not all wreckers, contriving that some trea-
sure may be washed up on our beach and we may
secure it, and do we not contract the habits of wreckers
from the common modes of getting a living?
The turtle doves plagued him, for they were restless
and frightened the pigeons. He saw many white wea-
sels. Said he had seen a blue mink, and from what he
said I did not know but he had heard a whooping
crane at night.
Looking from my window these bright moonlight
nights, the ground being still bare, the whole land-
scape- fields, road, and roof -has a wintry aspect,
as if covered with snow. It is the frost.1
Dec. 16. Friday. The elms covered with hoar frost,
seen in the east against the morning light, are very
beautiful. These days, when the earth is still bare and
the weather is so warm as to create much vapor by
day, are the best for these frost works.
Would you be well, see that you are attuned to each
mood of nature.
J. E. Cabot says the lunxus is a wolverene.
Some creature has killed ten, at least, of H. Wheeler's
doves and left them together in the dove-house. I think
it was my short-eared owl, which flew thither.
Dec. 17. While surveying for Daniel Weston in
Lincoln to-day, saw a great many maybe a hun-
dred silvery-brown cocoons, wrinkled and flattish,
on young alders in a meadow, three or four inches
long, fastened to the main stem and branches at same
time, with dry alder and fragments of fern leaves at-
tached to and partially concealing them; of some great
1 On the 18th, after rain in morning, there is no frost and no such
Dec. 18. Sunday. P. M. Clears off cold after rain.
Cross Fair Haven Pond at sunset. The western
hills, these bordering it, seen through the clear, cold
air, have a hard, distinct edge against the sunset sky.
The distant hills are impurpled. I have seen but one
or two small birds, chickadees and probably tree
Young Weston said that they found, in redeeming
a meadow, heaps of chestnuts under the grass, fifteen
rods from the trees, without marks of teeth. Probably
it was the work of the meadow mice.
Dec. 22. A slight whitening of snow last evening,
the second whitening of the winter; just enough to
spoil the skating, now ten days old, on the ponds.
Walden skimmed over in the widest part, but some
acres still open; will probably freeze entirely to-night
if this weather holds.
Surveying the last three days. They have not yielded
much that I am aware of. All I find is old bound-
marks, and the slowness and dullness of farmers recon-
firmed. They even complain that I walk too fast for
them. Their legs have become stiff from toil. This
coarse and hurried outdoor work compels me to live
grossly or be inattentive to my diet; that is the worst
of it. Like work, like diet; that, I find, is the rule.
Left to my chosen pursuits, I should never drink tea
nor coffee, nor eat meat. The diet of any class or gen-
eration is; the natural result of its employment and
locality. It is remarkable how unprofitable it is for the
most part to talk with farmers. They commonly stand
1853] LECTURING AND SURVEYING
on their good behavior and attempt to moralize or
philosophize in a serious conversation. Sportsmen and
loafers are better company. For society a man must
not be too good or well-disposed, to spoil his natural
disposition. The bad are frequently good enough to let
you see how bad they are, but the good as frequently
endeavor [to] get between you and themselves.
I have dined out five times and tea'd once within a
week. Four times there was tea on the dinner-table,
always meat, but once baked beans, always pie, but no
puddings. I suspect tea has taken the place of cider
with farmers. I am reminded of Haydon the painter's
experience when he went about painting the nobility.
I go about to the houses of the farmers and squires in
like manner. This is my portrait-painting, -when I
would fain be employed on higher subjects. I have
offered myself much more earnestly as a lecturer than
a surveyor. Yet I do not get any employment as a lec-
turer; was not invited to lecture once last winter, and
only once (without pay) this winter. But I can get
surveying enough, which a hundred others in this
county can do as well as I, though it is not boasting
much to say that a hundred others in New England
cannot lecture as well as I on my themes. But they
who do not make the highest demand on you shall rue
it. It is because they make a low demand on them-
selves. All the while that they use only your humbler
faculties, your higher unemployed faculties, like an
invisible cimetar, are cutting them in twain. Woe
be to the generation that lets any higher faculty in
its midst go unemployed! That is to deny God and
know him not, and he, accordingly, will know not of
P. M.- Got a white spruce I for a Christmas-tree for
the town out of the spruce swamp opposite J. Farmer's.
It is remarkable how few inhabitants of Concord can
tell a spruce from a fir, and probably not two a white
from a black spruce, unless they are together. The
woodchopper, even hereabouts, cuts down several kinds
of trees without knowing what they are. Neither do
the spruce trees know the villager. The villager does n't
know a black spruce tree when he sees it. How slender
his relation to the spruce tree! The white has taken
refuge in swamps from him. It is nothing but so much
evergreen to him. Last night's sprinkling of snow does
not now whiten the ground, except that here in the
swamp it whitens the ice and already I see the tracks
of rabbits on it.
Dec. 24. The rain of yesterday concluded with a
whitening of snow last evening, the third thus far. To-
day is cold and quite windy.
P. M. To the field in Lincoln which I surveyed
for Weston the 17th.
Walden almost entirely open again. Skated across
Flint's Pond; for the most part smooth but with rough
spots where the rain had not melted the snow. From
the hill beyond I get an arctic view northwest. The
S[" White" is crossed out and black written over it, evidently
at a later date. In view of Thoreau's confusion of the two spruces
for so many years, the next sentence may be thought amusing.]
mountains are of a cold slate-color. It is as if they
bounded the continent toward Behring's Straits.
In Weston's field, in springy land on the edge of a
swamp, I counted thirty-three or four of those large
silvery-brown cocoons within a rod or two, and prob-
ably there are many more about a foot from the ground,
commonly on the main stem though sometimes on a
branch close to the stem of the alder, sweet-fern,
brake, etc., etc. The largest are four inches long by
two and a half, bag-shaped and wrinkled and partly
concealed by dry leaves, alder, ferns, etc., attached
as if sprinkled over them. This evidence of cunning in
so humble a creature is affecting, for I am not ready
to refer it to an intelligence which the creature does not
share, as much as we do the prerogatives of reason.
This radiation of the brain. The bare silvery cocoons
would otherwise be too obvious. The worm has evi-
dently said to itself: Man or some other creature may
come by and see my casket. I will disguise it, will hang
a screen before it." Brake and sweet-fern and alder
leaves are not only loosely sprinkled over it and dan-
gling from it, but often, as it were, pasted close upon
and almost incorporated into it.
Saw Therien yesterday afternoon chopping for Jacob
Baker in the rain. I heard his axe half a mile off, and
also saw the smoke of his fire, which I mistook for a
part of the mist which was drifting about. I asked him
where he boarded. At Shannon's. He asked the price
of board and said I was a grass boarder, i. e. not a regu-
lar one. Asked him what time he started in the morn-
ing. The sun was up when he got out of the house that
morning. He heard Flint's Pond whooping like cannon
the moment he opened the door, but sometimes he could
see stars after he got to his chopping-ground. He was
working with his coat off in the rain. He said he often.
saw gray squirrels running about and jumping from tree
to tree. There was a large nest of leaves close by. That
morning he saw a large bird of some kind. He took a
French paper to keep himself in practice, not for
news; he said he did n't want news. He had got twenty-
three or twenty-four of them, had got them bound
and paid a dollar for it, and would like to have me see
it. He hadn't read it half; there was a great deal of
reading in it, by gorry. He wanted me to tell him the
meaning of some of the hard words. How much had
he cut? He was n't a-going to kill himself. He had
got money enough. He cut enough to earn his board.'
A man could not do much more in the winter. He used
the dry twigs on the trees to start his fire with, and
some shavings which he brought in his pocket. He
frequently found some fire still in the morning. He laid
his axe by a log and placed another log the other side
of it. I said he might have to dig it out of a snow-
drift, but he thought it would not snow. Described a
large hawk killed at Smith's (which had eaten some
hens); its legs "as yellow as a sovereign;" apparently
a goshawk. He has also his beetle and wedges and
In the town hall this evening, my white spruce
tree,2 one of the small ones in the swamp, hardly a quar-
ter the size of the largest, looked double its size, and
I [Walden, p. 161; Riv. 226.] 2 [Seep. 22.]
1853] THE WHOOPING OF THE POND 25
its top had been cut off for want of room. It was lit
with candles, but the starlit sky is far more splendid
to-night than any saloon.
Dec. 25. P. M. Skated to Fair Haven and above.
At seven this morning the water had already oozed
out at the sides of the river and flowed over the ice. It
appears to be the result of this bridging of the river
in the night and so obstructing the channel or usual
About 4 p. M. the sun sunk behind a cloud, and
the pond began to boom or whoop. I noticed the same
yesterday at the same hour at Flint's. It was perfectly
silent before. The weather in both cases clear, cold,
and windy. It is a sort of belching, and, as C. said,
is somewhat frog-like. I suspect it did not continue
to whoop long either night. It is a very pleasing phe-
nomenon, so dependent on the altitude of the sun.
When I go to Boston, I go naturally straight through
the city down to the end of Long Wharf and look off,
for I have no cousins in the back alleys. The water
and the vessels are novel and interesting. What are
our maritime cities but the shops and dwellings of mer-
chants, about a wharf projecting into the sea, where
there is a convenient harbor, on which to land the pro-
duce of other climes and at which to load the exports
of our own ? Next in interest to me is the market where
the produce of our own country is collected. Boston,
New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans,
and many others are the names of wharves projecting
into the sea. They are good places to take in and to
discharge a cargo. Everybody in Boston lives at No.
so-and-so, Long Wharf. I see a great many barrels and
fig-drums and piles of wood for umbrella-sticks and
blocks of granite and ice, etc., and that is Boston.
Great piles of goods and the means of packing and
conveying them, much wrapping-paper and twine, many
crates and hogsheads and trucks, that is Boston. The
more barrels, the more Boston. The museums and
scientific societies and libraries are accidental. They
gather around the barrels, to save carting.'
Apparently the ice is held down on the sides of the
river by being frozen to the shore and the weeds, and
so is overflowed there, but in the middle it is lifted up
and makes room for the tide. I saw, just above Fair
Haven Pond, two or three places where, just before
the last freezing, when the ice was softened and partly
covered with sleet, there had been a narrow canal,
about eight inches wide, quite across the river from
meadow to meadow. I am constrained to believe, from
the peculiar character of it on the meadow end, where
in one case it divided and crossed itself, that it was
made either by muskrats or otters or minks repeatedly
crossing there. One end was for some distance like an
otter trail in the soft upper part of the ice, not worn
Dec. 26. Monday. This forenoon it snowed pretty
hard for some hours, the first snow of any consequence
thus far. It is about three inches deep. I go out at
2.30, just as it ceases. Now is the time, before the
1 [Cape Cod, p. 268; Riv. 324, 325.]
SNOW ON THE TREES
wind rises or the sun has shone, to go forth and see
the snow on the trees. The clouds have lifted some-
what, but are still spitting snow a little. The vapor of
the steam-engine does not rise high in the misty air.
I go around Walden via the almshouse. The branches
of deciduous trees, oaks and maples, etc., espe-
cially the gray oaks of Hubbard's Close on the side-hill,
support long lightning-like arms of snow, many times
their own thickness. It has fallen so 'gently that it
forms an upright wall on the slenderest twig. The
agreeable maze which the branches make is more obvi-
ous than ever. And every twig thus laden is as still
as the hillside itself. The pitch pines are covered with
rich globular masses. The effect of the snow is to press
down the forest, confound it with the grasses, and
create a new surface to the earth above, shutting us in
with it, and we go along somewhat like moles through
our galleries. The sight of the pure and trackless road
up Brister's Hill, with branches and trees supporting
snowy burdens bending over it on each side, would
tempt us to begin life again. The ice is covered up,
and skating gone. The bare hills are so white that I
cannot see their outlines against the misty sky. The
snow lies handsomely on the shrub oaks, like a coarse
braiding in the air. They have so many small and
zigzag twigs that it comes near to filling up with a light
snow to that depth. The hunters are already out with
dogs to follow the first beast that makes a track.
Saw a small flock of tree sparrows in the sprout-
lands under Bartlett's Cliff. Their metallic chip is
much like the lisp of the chickadee. All weeds, with
their seeds, rising dark above the snow, are now re-
markably conspicuous, which before were not observed
against the dark earth.
I passed by the pitch pine that was struck by light-
ning. I was impressed with awe on looking up and
seeing that broad, distinct spiral mark, more distinct
even than when made eight years ago, as one might
groove a walking-stick, mark of an invisible and in-
tangible power, a thunderbolt, mark where a terrific
and resistless bolt came down from heaven, out of the
harmless sky, eight years ago. It seemed a sacred
spot. I felt that we had not learned much since the
days of Tullus Hostilius. It at length shows the effect
of the shock, and the woodpeckers have begun to bore
it on one side.
Walden still open. Saw in it a small diver, probably
a grebe or dobehick, dipper, or what-not, with the
markings, as far as I saw, of the crested grebe, but
smaller. It had a black head, a white ring about its
neck, a white breast, black back, and apparently no
tail. It dove and swam a few rods under water, and,
when on the surface, kept turning round and round
warily and nodding its head the while. This being the
only pond hereabouts that is open.
Was overtaken by an Irishman seeking work. I
asked him if he could chop wood. He said he was not
long in this country; that he could cut one side of a
tree well enough, but he had not learned to change
hands and cut the other without going around it, -
what we call crossing the carf. They get very small
wages at this season of the year; almost give up the
ghost in the effort to keep soul and body together. He
left me on the run to find a new master.
Dec. 27. High wind with more snow in the night.
The snow is damp and covers the panes, darkening
the room. At first I did not know that more snow had
fallen, it was so drifted. Snowy ridges cross the village
street and make it look as wild and bleak as a pass
of the Rocky Mountains or the Sierra Nevada.
P. M. -To Fair Haven Pond up meadows and river.
The snow blows like spray, fifteen feet high, across
the fields, while the wind roars in the trees as in the
rigging of a vessel. It is altogether like the ocean in a
storm. The snow blowing over the ice is like a vapor
rising or curling from a roof. Most plowed fields are
quite bare, but I am surprised to find behind the walls
on the south side, like a skulking company of rangers
in ambuscade or regular troops that have retreated to
another parallel, a solid column of snow six or eight
feet deep. The wind, eddying through and over the
wall, is scooping it out in fantastic forms, shells and
troughs and glyphs of all kinds. Sometimes the drift
is pierced with many holes as big as one's fist, where
the fine snow-drift is passing through like steam. As
it flows over, it builds out eaves to the bank of razor
It is surprising what things the snow betrays. I had
not seen a meadow mouse all summer, but no sooner
does the snow come and spread its mantle over the earth
than it is printed with the tracks of countless mice and
larger animals. I see where the mouse has dived into
a little hole in the snow, not larger than my thumb, by
the side of a weed, and a yard further reappeared again,
and so on alternately above and beneath. A snug life
it lives. The crows come nearer to the houses, alight
on trees by the roadside, apparently being put to it for
food. I saw them yesterday also.
The wind has now shaken the snow from the trees,
and it lies in irregular little heaps on the snow beneath,
except that there is a white ridge up and down their
trunks on the northwest side, showing which side the
storm came from, which, better than the moss, would
enable one to find his way in the night. I went to hear
the pond whoop, but did not hear much. I look far,
but see no rainbow flocks in the sky. It is a true winter
sunset, almost cloudless, clear, cold indigo-y along the
horizon. The evening (?) star is seen shining brightly,
before the twilight has begun. A rosy tint suffuses the
eastern horizon. The outline of the mountains is won-
derfully distinct and hard, and they are a dark blue
and very near. Wachusett looks like a right whale over
our bow, plowing the continent, with his flukes well
down. He has a vicious look, as if he had a harpoon
I wish that I could buy at the shops some kind of
Sindia-rubber that would rub out at once all that in my
writing which it now costs me so many perusals, so many
months if not years, and so much reluctance, to erase.2
Dec. 28. Perhaps the coldest night. The pump is
I [Channing, p. 107.]
2 [Channing, p. 121.]
I hear and see tree sparrows about the weeds in the
garden. They seem to visit the gardens with the earli-
est snow; or is it that they are more obvious against
the white ground ? By their sharp silvery chip, per-
chance, they inform each other of their whereabouts
and keep together.
Joe Brown owned those pigs I saw to root up the
old pasture behind Paul Adams's. N. Stow tells me
this morning that he has sold and brought to -the
butcher's three loads of pork containing twenty-five
hundred pounds each, the least; at eight cents per
pound amounting to more than $600.
E. W-, who got the premium on farms this year,
keeps twenty-eight cows, which are milked before break-
fast, or 6 o'clock, his hired men rising at 4.30 A. M.;
but he gives them none of the milk in their coffee.
I noticed the other day that the ice on the river and
pond was cracked very coarsely, and lay in different
planes a rod or two in diameter. It being very smooth
and the light differently reflected from the different
surfaces, this arrangement was very obvious. In one
place where the river was open yesterday, the water,
tossed into waves, looked exceedingly dark and angry.
Dec. 29. We survive, in one sense, in our posterity
and in the continuance of our race, but when a race of
men, of Indians for instance, becomes extinct, is not
that the end of the world for them? Is not the world
forever beginning and coming to an end, both to men
and races ? Suppose we were to foresee that the Saxon
race to which we belong would become extinct the
present winter, disappear from the face of the earth,
--would it not look to us like the end, the dissolution
of the world? Such is the prospect of the Indians.
All day a driving snow-storm, imprisoning most, stop-
ping the cars, blocking up the roads. No school to-day.
I cannot see a house fifty rods off from my window
through [it]; yet in midst of all I see a bird, probably
a tree sparrow, partly blown, partly flying, over the
house to alight in a field. The snow penetrates through
the smallest crevices under doors and side of windows.
P. M. Tried my snow-shoes. They sink deeper
than I expected, and I throw the snow upon my back.
When I returned, twenty minutes after, my great tracks
were not to be seen. It is the worst snow-storm to bear
that I remember. The strong wind from the north
blows the snow almost horizontally, and, beside freezing
you, almost takes your breath away. The driving snow
blinds you, and where you are protected, you can see
but little way, it is so thick. Yet in spite, or on account,
of all, I see the first flock of arctic snowbirds (Emberiza
nivalis) near the depot, white and black, with a sharp,
whistle-like note. An hour after I discovered half a pint
of snow in each pocket of my greatcoat.
What a contrast between the village street now and
last summer! The leafy elms then resounding with the
warbling vireo, robins, bluebirds, and the fiery hang-
bird, etc., to which the villagers, kept indoors by the
heat, listen through open lattices. Now it is like a street
in Nova Zembla, -if they were. to have any there. I
SIn an ordinary snow-storm, when snowing fast, Jan. 1st, '54, I can
see E. Wood's house, or about a mile.
1853] THE SNOWED-UP VILLAGE
wade to the post-office as solitary a traveller as ordi-
narily in a wood-path in winter. The snow is mid-leg
deep, while drifts as high as one's head are heaped
against the houses and fences, and here and there range
across the street like snowy mountains. You descend
from this, relieved, into capacious valleys with a harder
bottom, or more fordable. The track of one large
sleigh alone is visible, nearly snowed up. There is not
a track leading from any door to indicate that the in-
habitants have been forth to-day, any more than there
is track of any quadruped by the wood-paths. It is all
pure untrodden snow, banked up against the houses
now at 4 P. M., and no evidence that a villager has been
abroad to-day. In one place the drift covers the front-
yard fence and stretches thence upward to the top of
the front door, shutting all in, and frequently the snow
lies banked up three or four feet high against the front
doors, and the windows are all snowed up, and there is
a drift over each window, and the clapboards are all
hoary with it. It is as if the inhabitants were all frozen
to death, and now you threaded the desolate streets
weeks after that calamity. There is not a sleigh or
vehicle of any kind on the Mill-Dam, but one saddled
horse on which a farmer has come into town. The cars
are nowhere. Yet they are warmer, merrier than ever
there within. At the post-office they ask each traveller
news of the cars, Is there any train up or down? "
- or how deep the snow is on a level.
Of the snow bunting, Wilson says that they appear
in the northern parts of the United States "early in
December, or with the first heavy snow, particularly if
drifted by high winds." This day answers to that de-
scription exactly. The wind is northerly. He adds that
"they are universally considered as the harbin-
gers of severe cold weather." They come down from
the extreme north and are common to the two conti-
nents; quotes Pennant as saying that they inhabit not
only Greenland but even the dreadful climate of Spitz-
bergen, where vegetation is nearly extinct, and scarcely
any but cryptogamous plants are found. It therefore
excites wonder, how birds, which are graminivorous in
every other than those frost-bound regions, subsist: yet
are there found in great flocks both on the land and
ice of Spitzbergen." P. also says that they inhabit in
summer the most naked Lapland Alps," and "de-
scend in rigorous seasons into Sweden, and fill the roads
and fields; on which account" the Uplanders call them
" hardwarsfogel," hard-weather birds. Also P. says
" they overflow [in winter] the more southern countries
in amazing multitudes." W. says their colors are very
variable, and the whiteness of their plumage is ob-
served to be greatest towards the depth of winter."
Also W. says truly that they seldom sit long, being a
roving restless bird." Peabody says that in summer
they are pure white and black," but are not seen of
that color here. Those I saw to-day were of that color,
behind A. Wheeler's. He says they are white and rusty-
These are the true winter birds for you, these winged
snowballs. I could hardly see them, the air was so full
of driving snow. What hardy creatures! Where do
they spend the night ?
1853] THE SNOWED-UP VILLAGE 35
The woodchopper goes not to the wood to-day. His
axe and beetle and wedges and whetstone he will find
buried deep under a drift, perchance, and his fire all
As you go down the street, you see on either hand,
where erst were front yards with their parterres, rolling
pastures of snow, unspotted blankness swelling into
drifts. All along the path lies a huge barrow of snow
raised by the arctic mound-builder. It is like a pass
through the Wind River Mountains or the Sierra
Nevada, a spotless expanse of drifted snow, sloping
upward over fences to the houses, deep banks all along
their fronts closing the doors. It lies in and before
Holbrook's piazza, dwarfing its columns, like the sand
about Egyptian temples.
The windows are all sealed up, so that the traveller
sees no face of inhabitant looking out upon him. The
housekeeper thinks with pleasure or pain of what he
has in his larder. No shovel is put to the snow this day.
To-morrow we shall see them digging out. The farmer
considers how much pork he has in his barrel, how
much meal in his bin, how much wood in his shed.
Each family, perchance, sends forth one representa-
tive before night, who makes his way with difficulty
to the grocery or post-office to learn the news; i. e.,
to hear what others say to it, who can give the best
account of it, best can name it, has wvaded farthest in
it, has been farthest out and can tell the biggest and
most adequate story; and hastens back with the news.
I asked Therien yesterday if he was satisfied with
himself. I was trying to get a point d'appui within
him, a shelf to spring an arch from, to suggest some
employment and aim for life. "Satisfied!" said he;
" some men are satisfied with one thing, and some with
another, by George. One man, perhaps, if he has got
enough, will be satisfied to sit all day with his back to
the fire and his belly to the table; that will satisfy him,
by gorry." When I met him the other day, he asked
me if I had made any improvement. Yet I could never
by any manceuvring get him to take what is called a
spiritual view of things, of life. He allowed that study
and education was a good thing, but for him it was
too late. He only thought of its expediency; nothing
answering to what many call their aspirations. He was
humble, if he can be called humble who never aspires.1
He cut his trees very low, close to the ground, be-
cause the sprouts that came from such stumps were
better.2 Perhaps he distinguished between the red and
scarlet oak; one had a pale inner bark, the other a
darker or more reddish one. Without the least effort
he could defend prevailing institutions which affected
him, better than any philosopher, because he implicitly
accepted them and knew their whole value. He gave
the true reason for their prevalence, because specula-
tion had never suggested to him any other. Looking
round among the.trees, he said he could enjoy himself
in the woods chopping alone in a winter day; he wanted
no better sport.3 The trees were frozen, had been
sometimes, but would frequently thaw again during
the day. Split easier for it, but did not chop better.
1 [Walden, pp. 163, 165, 166; Riv. 229, 233.]
2 [Walden, p. 161; Riv. 227.] S [Walden, p. 162; Riv. 228.]
MEASURING THE SNOW
The woodchopper to-day is the same man that Homer
refers to, and his work the same. He, no doubt, had
his beetle and wedge and whetstone then, carried his
dinner in a pail or basket, and his liquor in a bottle, and
caught his woodchucks, and cut and corded, the same.
The thoughts and associations of summer and autumn
are now as completely departed from our minds as the
leaves are blown from the trees. Some withered de-
ciduous ones are left to rustle, and our cold immortal
evergreens. Some lichenous thoughts still adhere to us.
Dec. 30. P. M. Around Walden.
The pond not yet frozen entirely over; about six
acres open, the wind blew so hard last night. I carried
a two-foot rule and measured the snow of yesterday in
Abiel Wheeler's wood by the railroad, near the pond.
In going a quarter of a mile it varied from fourteen to
twenty-four inches. Then went to Potter's wood, by
Lincoln road, near Lincoln line, and paced straight
through a level wood where there was no drift percepti-
ble, measuring at every ten paces for two hundred paces,
and the average was twenty and one half inches.
I see the tracks of mice, and squirrels, probably gray
ones, leading straight to or from the feet of the largest
pines and oaks, which they had plainly ascended.
Their tracks commonly show rapidity of motion. I saw
in some places a continuous trail, sometimes disappear-
ing in the snow, between a muskrat's track and a mole's
gallery, three or more inches wide. Was it a red squir-
rel ? I think it too large.'
SA gray squirrel's. Vide [p. 41].
The storm being from the north, the snow is deepest
just over the ridge on the south side of rising grounds,
as well as houses and fences. When it has passed the
ridge of the hill there is a lull and it falls, just as it is
deposited behind walls because the wind does not blow
there, carries it no further.
In winter even man is to a slight extent dormant.
just as some animals are but partially awake, though
not commonly classed with those that hibernate. The
summer circulations are to some extent stopped; the
range of his afternoon walk is somewhat narrower; he
is more or less confined to the highway and wood-path;
the weather oftener shuts him up in his burrow; he be-
gins to feel the access of dormancy and to assume the
spherical form of the marmot; the nights are longest;
he is often satisfied if he only gets out to the post-office
in the course of the day. The arctic voyagers are
obliged to invent and willfully engage in active amuse-
ments to keep themselves awake and alive. Most men
do not now extend their walks beyond the village street.
Even our experience is something like wintering in the
Dec. 31. Four more inches of snow fell last night,
making in all now two feet on a level.
P. M.- Down railroad to Walden and circle round
to right, through Wheeler's woods out to railroad
It is a remarkable sight, this snow-clad landscape,
with the fences and bushes half buried and the warm
sun on it. The snow lies not quite level in the fields,
1853] THE SWEETNESS OF SOUND
but in low waves with an abrupt edge on the north or
wind side, as it lodges on ice.
The town and country are now so still, there being
no rattle of wagons nor even jingle of sleigh-bells, every
tread being as with woolen feet, I hear very distinctly
from the railroad causeway the whistle of the loco-
motive on the Lowell road. For the same reason, in
such a day as this the crowing of a cock is heard very
far and distinctly. I frequently mistake at first a very
distant whistle for the higher tones of the telegraph
harp by my side. The telegraph and railroad are
closely allied, and it is fit and to be expected that at a
little distance their music should be the same. There
are a few sounds still which never fail to affect me.
The notes of the wood thrush and the sound of a vi-
brating chord, these affect me as many sounds once y
did often, and as almost all should. The strains of the
aeolian harp and of the wood thrush are the truest and
loftiest preachers that I know now left on this earth.
I know of no missionaries to us heathen comparable to
them. They, as it were, lift us up in spite of ourselves.
They intoxicate, they charm us. Where was that strain
mixed into which this world was dropped but as a lump
of sugar to sweeten the draught? I would be drunk,
drunk, drunk, dead drunk to this world with it forever.
He that hath ears, let him hear. The contact of sound
with a human ear whose hearing is pure and unim-
paired is coincident with an ecstasy. Sugar is not so
sweet to the palate, as sound to the healthy ear; the
hearing of it makes men brave.
[Channing, p. 78.]
(How can a poet afford to keep an account with a
bookseller?) These things alone remind me of my im-
mortality, which is else a fable. I hear it, and I realize
and see clearly what at other times I only dimly re-
member. I get the value of the earth's extent and the
sky's depth. It, as it were, takes me out of my body
and gives me the freedom of all bodies and all nature.
I leave my body in a trance and accompany the zephyr
and the fragrance.
Walden froze completely over last night. It is, how-
ever, all snow ice, as it froze while it was snowing hard,
and it looks like frozen yeast somewhat. I waded about
in the woods through the snow, which certainly averaged
considerably more than two feet deep where I went.
It stuck to my clothes and melted, and so was more
inconvenient than yesterday. Saw probably an otter's
track, very broad and deep, as if a log had been drawn
along. It was nearly as obvious as a man's track. It
was made before last night's snow fell. The creature
from time to time went beneath the snow for a few feet,
to the leaves. This animal probably I should never see
the least trace of, were it not for the snow, the great
I saw some squirrels' nests of oak leaves high in
the trees, and, directly after, a gray squirrel tripping
along the branches of an oak and shaking down the
snow. It ran down the oak on the opposite side to
me, over the snow and up another tall and slender
oak, also on the side opposite to me, which was bare,
and leapt down about four feet into a white pine,
and then ran up still higher into its thick green top,
1853] A GRAY SQUIRREL'S TRACK
and clung behind the main stem, perfectly still, and
thought itself concealed. This it did to conceal itself,
though obliged to A come nearer to me to ac-
complish it. Its ) fore feet make but one
track in the snow, V- about three inches broad,
and its hind feet ( ) another similar one,2 a foot or more
distant, and there are two sharp furrows forward and
two slighter backward from each track where it has
scratched along. This track it makes when running,
but I am not absolutely certain that the whole four
feet do not come together. There were many holes in
the snow where it had gone down to the leaves and
brought up acorns, which it had eaten on the nearest
twig, dropping fine bits of the shell about on the snow,
and also bits of lichen and of bark. I noticed the bits
of acorn-shells, etc., by the holes in many places.
Sometimes it made a continuous narrow trail in the
snow, somewhat like a small musk-rat, where it had
walked, or gone, several times, and it would go under a
few feet and come out again.
The birds I saw were a partridge, perched on an
evergreen, apparently on account of the deep snow,
heard a jay, and heard and saw together white-bellied
nuthatches and chickadees, the former uttering a faint
quank quank and making a loudtapping, and the latter
its usual lisping note.
2 [An interrogation-point in parenthesis is marked here in pencil.]
Jan. 1. Le Jeune, describing the death of a young
Frenchwoman who had devoted her life to the savages
of Canada, uses the expression: Finally this beautiful
soul detached itself from its body the 15th of March,"
The drifts mark the standstill or equilibrium between
the currents of air or particular winds. In our greatest
snow-storms, the wind being northerly, the greatest
drifts are on the south sides of the houses and fences
and accordingly on the left-hand side of the street going
down it. The north track of the railroad was not open
till a day or more later than the south. I notice that in
the angle made by our house and shed, a southwest
exposure, the snow-drift does not lie close about the
pump, but is a foot off, forming a circular bowl, show-
ing that there was an eddy about it. It shows where
the wind has been, the form of the wind. The snow is
like a mould, showing the form of the eddying currents
of air which have been impressed on it, while the drift
and all the rest is that which fell between the currents
or where they counterbalanced each other. These
boundary lines are mountain barriers.
The white-in-tails, or grass finches, linger pretty late,
flitting in flocks before, but they come so near winter
1854] FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW
only as the white in their tails indicates. They let it
come near enough to whiten their tails, perchance, and
they are off. The snow buntings and the tree sparrows
are the true spirits of the snow-storm; they are the ani-
mated beings that ride upon it and have their life in it.
The snow is the great betrayer. It not only shows
the tracks of mice, otters, etc., etc., which else we should
rarely if ever see, but the tree sparrows are more plainly
seen against its white ground, and they in turn are at-
tracted by the dark weeds which it reveals. It also
drives the crows and other birds out of the woods to
the villages for food. We might expect to find in the
snow the footprint of a life superior to our own, of
which no zotilogy takes cognizance. Is there no trace of a
nobler life than that of an otter or an escaped convict to
be looked for in the snow ? Shall we suppose that that is
the only life that has been abroad in the night? It is
only the savage that can see the track of no higher life
than an otter. Why do the vast snow plains give us
pleasure, the twilight of the bent and half-buried
woods? Is not all there consonant with virtue, justice,
purity, courage, magnanimity ? Are we not cheered by
the sight ? And does not all this amount to the track
of a higher life than the otter's, a life which has not
gone by and left a footprint merely,' but is there with
its beauty, its music, its perfume, its sweetness, to ex-
hilarate and recreate us ? Where there is a perfect gov-
ernment of the world according to the highest laws, is
there no trace of intelligence there, whether in the snow
or the earth, or in ourselves ? No other trail but such
1 But all that we see is the impress of its spirit.
as a dog can smell? Is there none which an angel can
detect and follow? None to guide a man on his pil-
grimage, which water will not.conceal? Is there no
odor of sanctity to be perceived? Is its trail too old?
Have mortals lost the scent ? The great game for mighty
hunters as soon as the first snow falls is Purity, for,
earlier than any rabbit or fox, it is abroad, and its trail
may be detected by curs of lowest degree. Did this
great snow come to reveal the track merely of some
timorous hare, or of the Great Hare, whose track no
hunter has seen? Is there no trace nor suggestion of
Purity to be detected ? If one could detect the meaning
of the snow, would he not be on the trail of some higher
life that has been abroad in the night? Are there not
hunters who seek for something higher than foxes, with
judgment more discriminating than the senses of fox-
hounds, who rally to a nobler music than that of the
hunting-horn ? As there is contention among the fisher-
men who shall be the first to reach the pond as soon as
the ice will bear, in spite of the cold, as the hunters are
forward to take the field as soon as the first snow has
fallen, so the observer, or he who would make the most
of his life for discipline, must be abroad early and late,
in spite of cold and wet, in pursuit of nobler game,
whose traces are then most distinct. A life which, pur-
sued, does not earth itself, does not burrow downward
but upward, which takes not to the trees but to the
heavens as its home, which the hunter pursues with
winged thoughts and aspirations, these the dogs that
tree it, rallying his pack with the bugle notes of undy-
ing faith, and returns with some worthier trophy than
a fox's tail, a life which we seek, not to destroy it, but
to save our own. Is the great snow of use to the hunter
only, and not to the saint, or him who is earnestly build-
ing up a life? Do the Indian and hunter only need
snow-shoes, while the saint sits indoors in embroidered
The Indians might have imagined a large snow
bunting to be the genius of the storm.
This morning it is snowing again fast, and about six
inches has already fallen by 10 A. M., of a moist and
heavy snow. It is about six inches in all this day. This
would [be] two feet and a half in all, if it has not settled,
- but it has.
I would fain be a fisherman, hunter, farmer, preacher, "
etc., but fish, hunt, farm, preach other things than
When, in 1641, the five hundred Iroquois in force
brought to Three Rivers two French prisoners (whom
they had taken), seeking peace with the French, I
believe this preceded any war with them, -at the as-
sembling for this purpose, they went through the form
of tying their prisoners, that they might pass for such;
then, after a speech, they broke their bonds and cast
them into the river that it might carry them so far that
they might never be remembered. The speaker "then
made many presents, according to the custom of the
country where the word for presents is speech (oit le
mot de presens se nomme parole), to signify that the
present speaks more strongly than the mouth." (Le
Our orators might learn much from the Indians.
They are remarkable for their precision; nothing is left
at loose ends. They address more senses than one, so
as to preclude misunderstanding. A present accom-
panies each proposition. In delivering one present, the
speaker said, This is the house which we shall have
at Three Rivers when we come here to treat with you,"
etc. This is in Paul Le Jeune's Relation for '40 and
'41, page 156.
Jan. 2. The trees are white with a hoar frost this
morning, small leafets, a tenth of an inch long, on
every side of the twigs. They look like ghosts of trees.
Took a walk on snow-shoes at 9 A. M. to Hubbard's
Grove. A flock of snow buntings flew over the fields
with a rippling whistle, accompanied sometimes by a
tender peep and a ricochet motion.
P. M. Up Union Turnpike.
The tints of the sunset sky are never purer and more
ethereal than in the coldest winter days. This even-
ing, though the colors are not brilliant, the sky is crys-
talline and the pale fawn-tinged clouds are very beau-
tiful. I wish to get on to a hill to look down on the
winter landscape. We go about these days as if we had
fetters on our feet. We walk in the stocks, stepping into
the holes made by our predecessors.
I noticed yesterday that the damp snow, falling gently
without wind on the top of front-yard posts, had quite
changed the style of their architecture, to the dome
style of the East, a four-sided base becoming a dome
at top. I observe other revelations made by the snow.
The team and driver have long since gone by, but I
MEASURING THE SNOW
see the marks of his whip-lash on the snow, its re-
coil, but alas! these are not a complete tally of the
strokes which fell upon the oxen's back. The unmerci-
ful driver thought perchance that no one saw him, but
unwittingly he recorded each blow on the unspotted
snow behind his back as in the book of life. To more
searching eyes the marks of his lash are in the air.
I paced partly through the pitch pine wood and
partly the open field from the Turnpike by the Lee place
to the railroad, from north to south, more than a quarter
of a mile, measuring at every tenth pace. The average
of sixty-five measurements, up hill and down, was nine-
teen inches; this after increasing those in the woods by
one inch each (little enough) on account of the snow on
the pines. So that, apparently, it has settled about as
much as the two last snows amount to. I think there
has been but little over two feet at any one time. I
think that one would have to pace a mile on a north
and south line, up and down hill, through woods and
fields, to get a quite reliable result. The snow will drift
sometimes the whole width of a field, and fill a road or
valley beyond. So that it would be well that your
measuring included several such driftings. There is
very little reliance to [be] put on the usual estimates of
the depth of snow. I have heard different men set this
snow at six, fifteen, eighteen, twenty-four, thirty-six,
and forty-eight inches. My snow-shoes sank about four
inches into the snow this morning, but more than twice
as much the 29th.
On north side the railroad, above the red house cross-
ing, the cars have cut through a drift about a quarter
of a mile long and seven to nine feet high, straight up
and down. It reminds me of the Highlands, the Pic-
tured Rocks, the side of an iceberg, etc. Now that the
sun has just sunk below the horizon, it is wonderful
what an amount of soft light [it] appears to be absorb-
ing. There appears to be more day just here by its side
than anywhere. I can almost see into [it] six inches. It
is made translucent, it is so saturated with light.
I have heard of one precious stone found in Concord,
the cinnamon stone. A geologist has spoken of it as
found in this town, and a farmer has described to me
one which he once found, perhaps the same referred to
by the other. He said it was as large as a brick, and
as thick, and yet you could distinguish a pin through
it, it was so transparent. If not a mountain of light, it
was a brickbatful, at any rate.
Jan. 3. Tuesday. It is now fairly winter. We have
passed the line, have put the autumn behind us, have
forgotten what these withered herbs that rise above
the snow here and there are, what flowers they ever
bore. They are fishing on Walden this P. M. The
fisherman gets fifteen or twenty pounds thus, when he
has pretty good luck. Two to three pounds is a com-
mon size there. From the Peak, I looked over the win-
try landscape. First there is the white ground, then the
dark, dulled green of evergreens, then the reddish (? )
brown or leather-color of the oaks, which generally re-
tain their leaves, then the gray of maples and other
traces, which are bare. They are modest Quaker colors
that are seen above the snow. The twilight appears to
linger in the snow. This it is makes the days seem sud-
denly longer. The sun has set, shorn of its disk [sic] in
dun, red clouds. The young moon and the evening star
are seen. The partridge has come forth to bud on some
wayside apple tree. The woodchopper's task is done;
he puts his axe under a log and sets out for home.. For
an hour the fisherman's lines have been freezing in, and
now he, too, has commenced his retreat. That large
round track forming nearly a straight line Goodwin
thinks a fox.
A thaw appears to be commencing. We hear the
eaves run in the evening.
Jan. 4. It thaws all day; the eaves drip as in a rain;
the road begins to be soft and a little sloshy.
Jan. 5. Still thaws. This afternoon (as probably
yesterday), it being warm and thawing, though fair,
the snow is covered with snow-fleas. Especially they
are sprinkled like pepper for half a mile in the tracks
of a woodchopper in deep snow. These are the first
since the snow came. With the first thawing weather
they are [sic]. There is also some blueness now in the
snow, the heavens being now (toward night) overcast.
The blueness is more distinct after sunset.
Jan. 6. Walked Tappan I in p. M. down railroad to
Heywood Brook, Fair Haven, and Cliffs.
At every post along the brook-side, and under almost
every white pine, the snow strewn with the scales and
I [Doubtless William Tappan, of New York. See Familiar Letters.]
seeds of white pine cones left by the squirrels. They
have sat on every post and dropped them for a great
distance, also acorn-shells. The surface of the snow
was sometimes strewn with the small alder scales, i. e.
of catkins; also, here and there, the large glaucous
lichens (cetrarias?). Showed Tappan a small shad-
bush, which interested him and reminded him of a
greyhound, rising so slender and graceful with its nar-
row buds above the snow. To return to the squirrels,
I saw where they had laid up a pitch pine cone in the
fork of a rider in several places. Many marks of par-
tridges, and disturbed them on evergreens. A winter ( ?)
gnat out on the bark of a pine. On Fair Haven we
slumped nearly a foot to the old ice. The partridges
were budding on the Fair Haven orchard, and flew for
refuge to the wood, twenty minutes or more after sun-
down. There was a low, narrow, clear segment of sky
in the west at sunset, or just after (all the rest over-
cast), of the coppery yellow, perhaps, of some of Gil-
pin's pictures, all spotted coarsely with clouds like a
leopard's skin. I took up snow in the tracks at dark,
but could find no fleas in it then, though they were
exceedingly abundant before. Do they go into the snow
at night ? Frequently see a spider apparently stiff and
dead on snow.
In Vimont's Jesuit Relation for 1642, he describes
the customs of the Iroquois. As in the case of the
Hurons, everything is done by presents. The murderer
and robber are restrained by the very defect of jus-
tice, and because the community (his relations or tribe)
whips itself for his fault. They must appease the in-
1854] CRIME AMONG THE IROQUOIS 51
jured with costly presents. They make that he shall
involve his friends in ruin along with himself, and if
he would injure any one, shall injure them too. By
making it impossible for him to do an injury without
doing a greater injury than he wishes, they restrain
Jan. 7. Saturday. Thaw ended. Cold last night;
rough walking; snow crusted.
P. M. To Ministerial Swamp.
The bare larch trees there, so slender and tall, where
they grow close together, all beaded or studded with
buds, or rather stubs, which look like the dry sterile
blossoms. How much fuller, or denser and more flour-
ishing, in winter is the white spruce than the white pine!
It has two hues, I believe, the glaucous or bluish and
the green, melting into each other. It has not shed all
its seeds yet. Now that the snow has lain more than
a week, it begins to be spotted and darkened in the
woods, with various dry leaves and scales from the
trees. The wind and thaw have brought down a fresh
crop of dry pine and spruce needles. The little round-
ish and stemmed scales of the alder catkins spot it
thickly. The bird-shaped scales of the white birch are
blown more than twenty rods from the trees. I see
also the wings of pine seeds, the seed being gone, -
which look exactly like the wings of ants. Also, in the
pastures, the fine star-shaped fuzz of the gray golden-
rod, somewhat like a spider with many legs.
The snow is still very deep in the more open parts
of the swamp, where it is light, being held up by the
bushes; but in thick woods there is much less of it,
beside that it has settled far more. There is also much
more in sprout-lands than in woods. Is it that the
ground not being frozen in the woods melts it so much
faster, while in the swamp, even if the ground is equally
warm, the snow, lying light, does not come in contact
with it enough to melt it ?
The ice has all been snow ice of late, not interest-
ing to study. However, there are now some little pools
over the snow in hollows frozen, where the thin ice is
yellow and full of white bubbles and like small coins.
Is this the melted snow made into tea by running amid
the dead leaves and grass ? I see the muddy, dripping
tracks of [a] muskrat or mink that has come out of a
ditch on to the snow here in the swamp. Saw a fat
pitch pine stump, whose sap, four inches thick, has
long been gone, but the scales of the thick bark still
form a circle level with the ground four inches from
the (solid or fat) wood on every side. I see at Martial
Miles's house where many hundred bees lie dead on
the snow close to their hives, plainly having come out
during the late warmer days.
I went to these woods partly to hear an owl, but
lid not; but, now that I have left them nearly a mile
behind, I hear one distinctly, hoorer hoo. Strange that
we should hear this sound so often, loud and far, -
a voice which we call the owl, and yet so rarely see
the bird. Oftenest at twilight. It has a singular promi-
nence as a sound; is louder than the voice of a dear
friend. Yet we see the friend perhaps daily and the
owl but few times in our lives. It is a sound which
1854] ATMOSPHERE IN LANDSCAPE
the wood or the horizon makes. I see the cars almost
as often as I hear the whistle.
Jan. 8. Sunday. Gilpin, in his essay on the "Art of
Sketching Landscape," says: "When you have finished
your sketch therefore with Indian ink, as far as you
propose, tinge the whole over with some light horizon
hue. It may be the rosy tint of morning; or the more
ruddy one of evening; or it may incline more to a yellow-
ish, or a greyish cast. ... By washing this tint over your
whole drawing, you lay a foundation for harmony."
I have often been attracted by this harmonious tint
in his and other drawings, and sometimes, especially,
have observed it in nature when at sunset I inverted
my head. We love not so well the landscape repre-
sented as in broad noon, but in a morning or evening
twilight, those seasons when the imagination is most
active, the more hopeful or pensive seasons of the day.
Our mood may then possess the whole landscape, or
be in harmony with it, as the hue of twilight prevails
over the whole scene. Are we more than crepuscular
in our intellectual and spiritual life ? Have we awak-
ened to broad noon ? The morning hope is soon lost in
what becomes the routine of the day, and we do not
recover ourselves again until we land on the pensive
shores of evening, shores which skirt the great western
continent of the night. At sunset we look into the west.
For centuries our thoughts fish those grand banks that
lie before the newfoundland, before our spirits take up
their abode in that Hesperian Continent to which these
lie in the way.
P. M. -To the Spruce Swamp in front of J.
Can go across both rivers now. New routes are more
practicable. Stood within a rod of a downy woodpecker
on an apple tree. How curious and exciting the blood-
red spot on its hindhead! I ask why it is there, but
no answer is rendered by these snow-clad fields. It is
so close to the bark I do not see its feet. It looks be-
hind as if it had on a black cassock open behind and
showing a white undergarment between the shoulders
and down the back. It is briskly and incessantly tap-
ping all round the dead limbs, but rarely twice in a
place, as if to sound the tree and so see if it has any
worm in it, or perchance to start them. How much
he deals with the bark of trees, all his life long tap-
ping and inspecting it! He it is that scatters those
fragments of bark and lichens about on the snow
at the base of trees. What a lichenist he must be! Or
rather, perhaps it is fungi makes his favorite study, for
he deals most with dead limbs. How briskly he glides
up or drops himself down a limb, creeping round and
round, and hopping from limb to limb, and now flitting
with a rippling sound of his wings to another tree!
SThe lower two-thirds of the white spruce
Shas its branches retraced or turned downward,
and then curving upward at the extremities, as
much as the white pine commonly slants up-
wards. Above it is so thick that you cannot
see through it. All the black spruce that I
know hereabouts stand.on higher land than this.
Saw two squirrel-nests in the thick top of a spruce.
GILPIN ON BEAUTY
It was a foot in diameter, of coarse grass and bark
fibres, with very thick bottom and sides and a scarcely
distinguishable entrance, lined with fine fibres of bark,
probably inner bark of maple, very warm. Probably a
red squirrel's, for I heard one winding up his clock.
Many white pine cones had been eaten in the neigh-
Gilpin's "Essay on Picturesque Beauty" is the key /
to all his writings. lie says in the outset that he does
not mean to inquire "into the general sources of
beauty," but the questions which he proposes to him-
self depend on the result of such an inquiry. He asks,
first, What is that quality in objects, which particu-
larly marks them as picturesque? and answers
" roughness," assigning to that kind of beauty which
he makes the opposite to the picturesque the quality
of smoothness." This last he styles, too generally or
exclusively, "the beautiful." The beautiful, he says,
cannot be painted; e. g., A piece of Palladian archi-
tecture may be elegant in the last degree. The propor-
tion of its parts the propriety of its ornaments and
the symmetry of the whole, may be highly pleasing.
But if we introduce it in a picture, it immediately be-
comes a formal object, and ceases to please. Should we
wish to give it picturesque beauty, we must use the
mallet, instead of the chisel: we must beat down one
half of it, deface the other, and throw its mutilated-
members around in heaps. In short from a smooth
building we must turn it into a rough ruin." I do not
believe that the beautiful" is not equally beautiful
I [William Gilpin, Five Essays on Picturesque Subjects.]
in picture, that the beautiful statue for instance,
however smooth, may not appear beautiful when
daguerreotyped or painted. In the case instanced he
must use the mallet either because the building is not
beautiful, or because he cannot catch and render the
spirit of its beauty. If there is the same genius in the
painter that there was in the architect, the painting
will be beautiful too. The smooth may be more diffi-
cult, but is not impossible, to be represented by pic-
ture. It is not the mere roughness of the surface which
makes the patriarchal head more interesting than that
of a youth ever, nor is this the reason why we admire
the Laocotin more than the Antinoiis," for we do not
admire it more than the Apollo Belvidere.
True, there are many reasons why the painter should
select the rough. It is easier to execute; he can do it
more justice. In the case of the patriarchal head,
those lines and wrinkles which man's life has produced
his hand can better represent than the fullness and
promise of infancy; and then, on the whole, perhaps,
we have more sympathy with performance than pro-
mise. The humble or sincere and true is more com-
monly rough and weather-beaten, so that from associ-
ation we prefer it. But will Mr. Gilpin assert that the
Venus and Apollo are not fit objects for painting ?
So we prefer the poor man's irregular garden for its
sincerity and truth to the rich man's formal and pre-
tending parterres, and the "worn-out cart-horse" to
the pampered steed for similar reasons. Indeed he
does not recommend his art," if he fails to fix the fleet-
ing forms of the beautiful. The worn-out cart-horse is
GILPIN ON BEAUTY
thought to be more picturesque and admits of being
rendered with spirit," because we can far more easily
enter into his spirit, whether as beholders or painters,
- have more sympathy with it than with that of the
free horse of the prairie. Beside, what has the pam-
pered coach-horse done to deserve our respect and sym-
He defends the painter, first, by saying that "a free,
bold touch is in itself pleasing," and assuming to too
great an extent that the objects which he calls beauti-
ful do not admit of being painted in this touch, but
God used a free and bold touch when he created them,
and so may the creative painter do when he paints
them, secondly, by saying that the very essence of
his art requires" that he select the Picturesque for the
sake of composition, variety, light and shade, and color-
But he is superficial. He goes not below the surface
to account for the effect of form and color, etc. For
instance, he thus attempts to account for the fact that
the pampered steed may be a picturesque object.
" Though the horse, in a rough state, as we have just
observed, or worn down with labor, is more adapted to
the pencil than when his sides shine with brushing, and
high feeding; yet in this latter state also he is certainly
a picturesque object. But it is not his smooth, and shin-
ing coat, that makes him so. It is the apparent inter-
ruption of that smoothness by a variety of shades, and
colors, which produces the effect. Such a play of mus-
cles appears, everywhere, through the fineness of his
skin, gently swelling, and sinking into each other he
is all over so lubricus aspici, the reflections of light are
so continually shifting upon him, and playing into each
other, that the eye never .considers the smoothness of
the surface; but is amused with gliding up, and down,
among those endless transitions, which in some degree,
supply the room of roughness." And this is the reason
why a pampered steed can be painted! Mark that there
is not the slightest reference to the fact that this sur-
face, with its lights and shades, belongs to a horse and
not to a bag of wind. The same reasoning would ap-
ply equally well to one of his hind quarters hung bot-
tom upwards in a butcher's stall. This comes of not
inquiring "into the general sources of beauty."
So I should answer that the beauty of an old head"
is.not greatly improved by the smoothness of the bald
pate" (if bald pates were rough they would do just as
well), but it may be improved by the associations which
a bald pate suggests.
He fails to show why roughness is essential to the pic-
turesque, because he does not go beneath the surface.
To return to the horse, I should say that no arrange-
ment of light and shade without reference to the object,
actual or suggested, so lit and shaded can interest us
powerfully, any more than the paint itself can charm us.
In the "Essay on Picturesque Travel," after speak-
ing of the objects of such travel, he treats of the way in
which the mind is gratified by these objects." He says:
We might begin in moral style, and consider the ob-
jects of nature in a higher light than merely as amuse-
"ment. We might observe, that a search after beauty
should naturally lead the mind to the great origin of
GILPIN ON LANDSCAPE
all beauty," etc. But though in theory this seems a
natural climax, we insist the less upon it, as in fact we
have scarce ground to hope that every admirer of pic-
turesque beauty is an admirer also of the beauty of vir-
tue." And he a clergyman, vicar of Boldre!" This is
to give us the play of Hamlet with Hamlet's part left
out. But there is no half way in this case that is not
at the same time half true.
Again, as if that were true, which G. asserts in an-
other essay, that "the eye, which has nothing to do
with moral sentiments, and is conversant only with visi-
bleforms, is disgusted," etc., any more than a telescope
is disgusted! As if taste resided in the eye! As if the
eye, which itself cannot see at all, were conversant with
surfaces! Yet he adds directly that "there is a still
higher character in landscapes than what arises from
the uniformity of objects and that is the power of fur-
nishing images analogous to the various feelings, and
sensations of the mind." Can good landscape have any
lower aim? But he says, "To convey however ideas
of this kind is the perfection of the art: it requires the
splendor, and variety of colors; and is not to be at-
tempted in such trivial sketches as these." And this is
not modesty merely, but a low estimate of his own art.
I might have said some pages back that he allows
that grandeur which is produced "by uniformity of
color, and a long continuation of line," falls under the
head of picturesque beauty, though he says that the
idea of it is not easily caught.
The elegant Gilpin. I like his style and manners bet-
ter than anything he says.
Jan. 9. P. M. To Heywood's Pond with Tap-
We were looking for rainbow-tinted clouds, small
whiffs of vapor which form and disperse, this clear,
cold afternoon, when we saw to our surprise a star,
about half past three or earlier, a mere round white
dot. Is the winter then such a twilight? I wonder if
the savages ever detected one by day. This was about
an hour and a half before sunset. T. said he had lost
fowls by the owls. They selected the roosters and took
off their heads and ate their insides. Found many snow-
fleas, apparently frozen, on the snow.'
T. has a singularly elastic step. He will run through
the snow, lifting his knees like a child who enjoys the
motion. When he slumped once through to water and
called my attention to it, with an indescribable flash of
his eye, he reminded me forcibly of Hawthorne's little
son Julian. He uses the greatest economy in speech of
any man I know. Speaks low, beside, and without em-
phasis; in monosyllables. I cannot guess what the word
was for a long time. His language is different from the
Jan. 10. I cannot thaw out to life the snow-fleas which
yesterday covered the snow like pepper, in a frozen state.
How much food they must afford to small birds, -
chickadees, etc. The snow went off remarkably fast in
the thaw before the 7th, but it is still deep, lying light
in swamps and sprout-lands, somewhat hollow beneath.
The thaw produced those yellowish pools in hollows in
SVide below [next date].
1854] A WALK WITH WILLIAM TAPPAN 61
the fields, where water never stands else, and now per-
haps there is a bottom of snow; and now for the last
three days they have afforded good sliding. You got
a start by running over the snow-crust. In one place,
where the depression was inconsiderable but more ex-
tensive than usual, I found that it was mere glazed
snow on which I slid, it having rapidly frozen dry.
The sportsmen chose the late thaw to go after quails.
They come out at such times to pick the horse-dung in
the roads, and can be traced thence to their haunts.
. When we were walking last evening, Tappan admired
the soft rippling of the Assabet under Tarbell's bank.
One could have lain all night under the oaks there lis-
tening to it. Westward forty rods, the surface of the
stream reflected a silvery whiteness, but gradually dark-
ened thence eastward, till beneath us it was almost quite
What you can recall of a walk on the second day will
differ from what you remember on the first day, as the
mountain chain differs in appearance, looking back the
next day, from the aspect it wore when you were at its
base, or generally, as any view changes to one who is
journeying amid mountains when he has increased the
With Tappan, his speech is frequently so frugal and
reserved, in monosyllables not fairly uttered clear of
his thought, that I doubt if he did not cough merely, or
let it pass for such, instead of asking what he said or
meant, for fear it might turn out that he coughed
Channing showed me last night on a map where, as
he said, he used to walk in Rome. He was there
I mistook the creaking of a tree in the woods the
other day for the scream of a hawk. How numerous
the resemblances of the animate to the inanimate!
Jan. 11. Thick fog in the night. The trees, ac-
cordingly, now white with hoary frost, just as the frost
forms on a man's beard or about a horse's mouth.
P. M. To Cliffs and Walden.
The north side of all stubble, weeds, and trees, and
the whole forest is covered with a hoar frost a quarter
to a half inch deep. It is easily shaken off. The air is
still full of mist. No snow has fallen, but, as it were,
the vapor has been caught by the trees like a cobweb.
The trees are bright hoary forms, the ghosts of trees.
In fact, the warm breath of the earth is frozen on its
beard. Closely examined or at a distance, it is just
like the sheaf-like forms of vegetation and the diverg-
ing crystals on the window-panes. The stiff stubble has
a soft, drooping look; now feels the wind and waves
like plumes. It is a chevaux-de-frise or armor of frost-
needles, exclusively on the north side, with a myriad
diverging feathery points, sheaves of darts. It covers
the width of the twigs, but only a narrow and irregular
strip on the larger limbs and trunk; also on the edges
and protuberances of the leaves still turned toward
the northern foe. Even birds' nests have a white
Birches, especially, are the trees for these hoar frosts
and also for glazes. They are so thickly twigged and
1854] NATURE'S WINTER PALACE
of such graceful forms and attitudes. I can distinguish
a birch now further off than ever. As I stand by its
north side (Hubbard's Grove), almost the whole forest
is concealed by the hoar frost. It is as if the mist had
been caught on an invisible net spread in the air. Yet
the white is tinged with the ground color of reddish
oak leaves and even green pine-needles. You look up
and behold the hugest pine, as tall as a steeple, all
frosted over. Nature is now gone into her winter
palace. The trunks of the pines, greened with lichens,
are now more distinct by contrast. Even the pale yel-
lowish green of lichens speaks to us at this season,
reminding us of summer.
The humblest weed is indescribably beautiful, of
purest white and richest form. The hogweed becomes
a fairy's wand. The blue-curls, rising from bare gray
sand, is perhaps particularly beautiful. Every part of
the plant is concealed. Its expression is changed or
greatly enriched by this exaggeration or thickening of
the mere linear original. It is an exquisitely delicate
frost plant, trembling like swan's-down. As if Nature
had sprinkled her breast with down this cold season.
The character of each tree and weed is rendered with
spirit, the pine plumes and the cedar spires. All this
you see going from north to south; but, going the other
way (perchance ?), you might not be struck with the
aspect of the woods.
Now (or a little earlier, just after the thaw, when it
began to freeze) is the time to go out and see the ice
organ-pipes. I walked the whole length of the Cliffs,
just at the base of the rocks, for this purpose; but [it]
is rather late; no water is flowing now. These great
organ-pipes are formed where the water flows over
triangular .. ,-a projections of the rocks. The
p e r pen- dicularity of the icicles contrasts
strangely 47 with the various angles of the
rocks. It is now quite cold, and in many places only
a sharp spear of purest crystal, which does not reach
the rock below, is left to tell of the water that has
flowed here. These solid, pipe-like icicles commonly
unite by their sides and form rows of pillars or irregu-
lar colonnades, run together, between which here and
there you can insert your hand, revealing a peculiar
internal structure, as of successive great drops. Thus
when the water has fallen perpendicularly. And be-
hind these perpendicular pipes, or congregated pillars,
or colonnades run together, are formed the prettiest
little aisles or triangular alcoves with lichen-clad sides.
Then the ice spreads out in a thin crust over the rock,
with an uneven surface as of bubbling water, and you
can see the rock indistinctly through ice three or four'
inches thick, and so on, by successive steps or shelves
down the rock.
Saw where a squirrel, probably a red one, had ap-
parently brought up to the mouth of his hole quite a
quantity of walnuts and eaten them there.
I observe that the surface of the snow under the
hemlocks is now very thickly strewn
S, with cones and scales. Was it done
-. by the thaw ? Or did the partridges
Help do it? The ends of the lower
limbs are still under the snow.
night a fine freezing rain begins, which turns the
frost to a glaze.
Ja. 12. A.M. -It still rains very finely. The
ground etc., is covered with a black glaze, wet and
shiny lie water, like an invisible armor, a quarter of
an inch or more thick.
Every winter the surface of the pond to the depth of
a foot becomes solid so as to support the heaviest teams,
and anon the snow covers it to an equal depth, so that
it is not to be distinguished from a level field. Thus,
like the marmots in the surrounding hills, it too closes
its eyelids and becomes partially dormant.'
Coarse, hard rain from time to time to-day, with
much mist, thaw and rain. The cocks crow, for the
ground begins to be bare in spots. Walking, or wading,
Jan. 18. Still warm and thawing, springlike; no
freezing in the night, though high winds. Are we not
apt to have high winds after rain ?
P. M. -To Walden, Goose Pond, and Britton's
The landscape is now patches of bare ground and
snow; much running water with the sun reflected from
it. Lately all was clean, dry, and tight. Now, though
clear and bright, all is moist and dissolving. The cocks
crow with new brag. Even the telegraphlharp seems
to sound as with a vernal sound, heralding a new year.
Those pools of greenish-yellow water with a snow bot-
1 [Walden, pp. 312, 313; Riv. 437.]
RAIN AND THAW
tom, in hollows in fields and woods, are now rnuch
increased, ready to be frozen. These thawing days
must have been to some extent lichen days too. i I did
not examine. The stumps are now richly bronzehl with
greenish mealy lichens. A rich scale is slowly creeping
over and covering them. How the red coxcomb lichens
contrast with the snow! Some of these days I have
heard Therien's axe more than a mile distinctly. He
has already carried it home and ground it twice, hav-
ing dulled 'it on a stone. Walden is covered with pud-
dles, in which you see a dim reflection of the trees and
hills, as in weak soapsuds, on the grayish or light-colored
I saw yesterday my snowshoe tracks quite distinct,
though made January 2d. Though they pressed the
snow down four or five inches, they consolidated it, and
it now endures and is two or three inches above the
general level there, and more white.
The water on Walden has been flowing into the holes
cut for pickerel and others. It has carried with it, ap-
parently from the surface, a sort of dust that collects
on the surface, which produces a dirty or grayish-brown
foam. It lies sometimes several feet wide, quite motion-
less on the surface of the shallow water above the ice,
and is very agreeably and richly figured, like the hide
of some strange beast -how cheap these colors in
nature parts of it very much like the fur of rabbits,
the tips of their tails. I stooped to pick it up once or
twice, -now like bowels overlying one another, now
like tripe, now like flames, i. e. in form, with the free,
bold touch of Nature. One would not believe that the
A PUZZLING SOUND
impurities which thus color the foam could be arranged
in such pleasing forms. Give any material, and Nature
begins to work it up into pleasing forms.
In the deep hollow this side of Britton's Camp, I
heard a singular buzzing sound from the ground, ex-
actly like that of a large fly or bee in a spider's web.
I kneeled down, and with pains traced it to a small
bare, spot as big as my hand, amid the snow, and
searched there amid the grass stubble for several
minutes, putting the grass aside with my fingers, till,
when I got nearest to the spot, not knowing but I might
be stung, I used a stick. The sound was incessant,
like that of a large fly in agony, but though it made
my ears ache, and I had my stick directly on the spot,
I could find neither prey nor oppressor. At length I
found that I interrupted or changed the tone with my
stick, and so traced it to a few spires of dead grass oc-
cupying about a quarter of an inch in diameter and
standing in the melted snow water. When I bent these
one side it produced a duller and baser tone. It was
a sound issuing from the earth, and as I stooped over
it, the thought came over me that it might be the first
puling infantine cry of an earthquake, which would
ere long ingulf me. There was no bubble in the water.
Perhaps it was air confined under the frozen ground,
now expanded by the thaw, and escaping upward
through the water by a hollow grass stem. I left it
after ten minutes, buzzing as loudly as at first. Could
hear it more than a rod.
Schoolcraft says, The present name is derived from
the Dutch, who called it Roode Eylant (Red Island),
from the autumnal color of its foliage." (Coll. R. I.
Hist. Soc. vol. iii.)
Jan. 14. If the writers of .the brazen age are most
suggestive to thee, confine thyself to them, and leave
those of the Augustan age to dust and the book-
Was surprised this morning to see how much the
river was swollen by the rain of day before yesterday.
The channel, or river itself, is still covered with ice, but
the meadows are broad sheets of dark-blue water, con-
trasting with the white patches of snow still left. The
ice on the river rises with the water in this case, while
it remains attached to the bottom by one edge on each
side, and is heaved up and cracked in consequence
along the line of the willows, thus: -
All the water on the meadows lies over ice and snow.
The other day I started a partridge from a sumach
bush with berries on it, and to-day from a barberry
bush with berries. I suspect that they eat the berries
Cato makes the vineyard of first importance to a
farm; second, a well-watered garden; third, a willow
plantation (salictum); fourth, an olive-yard (oletum);
fifth, a meadow or grass ground (?) (pratum); sixth, a
grain-field ortillage (?) (campusfrumentarius); seventh,
a copsewood (?) for fuel (?) Silvaa caedua) (Varro
speaks of planting and cultivating this); eighth, an
CATO ON FARMING
arbustum (Columella says it is a plantation of elms,
etc., for vines to rest on) (arbustum); ninth, a wood
that yields mast (glandaria silva). He says elsewhere
the arbustum yields ligna et virgae.
He says: "In earliest manhood the master of a
family must study to plant his ground; as for building
he must think a long time about it (diu cogitare); lie
must not think about planting, but do it. When he
gets to be thirty-six years old, then let him build, if
he has his ground planted. So build, that the villa may
not have to seek the farm, nor the farm the villa."
This contains sound advice, as pertinent now as
As for farming implements, I do not see but the
Romans had as great a variety as are now exhibited in
the Crystal Palace.
The master of a family must have in his rustic villa
"cellam oleariam, vinariam, dolia multa, uti lubeat cari-
tatem exspectare, et rei et virtuti, et gloriae erit" (an oil
and wine cellar, many casks, so that it may be pleasant
to expect hard times; it will be for his advantage, and
virtue and glory).
This, too, to make farmers prudent and .thrifty:
"Cogitato quotannis tempestates magnas venire, et oleam
dejicere solere" (Consider that great tempests come
every year, and the olive is wont to fall). The steward
must not lend seed for sowing, etc. He may have two or
three families of whom to borrow and to whom to lend
and no more.
I just had a coat come home from the tailor's. Ah
me! Who am I that should wear this coat? It was
fitted upon one of the devil's angels about my size.
Of what use that measuring of me if he did not mea-
sure my character, but only the breadth of my shoulders,
as it were a peg to hang it on. This is not the figure
that I cut. This is the figure the tailor cuts. That pre-
sumptuous and impertinent fashion whispered in his
ear, so that he heard no word of mine. As if I had
said, Not my will, 0 Fashion, but thine be done."
We worship not the Parcee, nor the Graces, but Fash-
ion, offspring of Proteus and Vanessa, of Whim and
Vanity. She spins and weaves and cuts with the au-
thority of the Fates. Oh, with what delight I could
thrust a spear through her vitals or squash her under
my heel! Every village might well keep constantly em-
ployed a score of knights to rid it of this monster. It
changes men into bears or monkeys with a single wave
of its wand. The head monkey at Paris, Count D'Or-
say, put on the traveller's cap, and now all the monkeys
in the world do the same thing. He merely takes the
breadth of my shoulders and proceeds to fit the gar-
ment to Puck, or some other grotesque devil of his
acquaintance to whom he has sold himself.
I despair of ever getting anything quite simple and
honest done in this world by the help of men. They
would have to be passed through a powerful press, a la
cider-mill, that their old notions might be thoroughly
squeezed out of them, and it would be some time be-
fore they would get upon their legs again. Then un-
doubtedly there would be some one with a maggot in
his head, offspring of an egg deposited there nobody
knows when; fire does not kill these things, and you
NOTES FROM CATO
would have lost your labor.' I could cry, if it were not
If you have done one thing late, you will do all
your work late," says Cato to the farmer. They raised
a sallow (salicem) to tie vines with. Ground subject to
fogs is called nebulosus. They made a cheap wine of
poor grapes, called vinum praeliganeum,-for the labor-
ers to drink. (So our farmers give their men rum or
Oxen "must have muzzles [or little baskets, fiscel-
las],2 that they may not go in quest of grass (ne herbam
sectentur) when they plow."
Jan. 17. Surveying for William O. Benjamin in
east part of Lincoln. Saw a red squirrel on the wall,
it being thawing weather. Human beings with whom
I have no sympathy are far stranger to me than inani-
mate matter, -rocks or earth. Looking on the last, I
feel comparatively as if I were with my kindred.
Cato, prescribing a medicamentum for oxen, says,
"When you see a snake's slough, take it and lay it up,
that you may not have to seek it when it is wanted."
This was mixed with bread, corn, etc.
He tells how to make bread and different kinds of
cakes, viz., a libum, a placenta, a spira (so called be-
cause twisted like a rope, perhaps like doughnuts),
scriblita (because ornamented with characters like writ-
ing), globi (globes), etc., etc. Tells how to make a vow
1 [Walden, p. 28; Riv. 42. See also Familiar Letters, pp. 225, 226;
Riv. 271, 272.]
2 [The brackets are Thoreau's.]
for your oxen to Mars Sylvanus in a wood with an
offering, no woman to be present nor. know how it is
When the brine will float a dry maena (a fish) or an
egg, then it will preserve meat. Tells how to cram
hens and geese. If you wish to remove an ill savor
from wine, he recommends to heat a brick and pitch it
and let it down by a string to the bottom of the cask
and there remain two days, the cask being stopped.
If you wish to know if water has been added to
wine, make a little vessel of ivy wood materiala edera-
cea). Put into it the wine which you think has water
in it. If it has water, the wine will run out (effluet),
the water will remain. For a vessel of ivy wood does
not hold wine."
The dogs must be shut up by day that they may
be more sharp (acriores, more fierce (?)) and vigilant
by night.". So I might say of a moon and star gazer.
"Make a sacrificial feast for the oxen when the pear
is in blossom. Afterward begin to plow in the spring."
" That day is to be holy feriaee) to the oxen, and herds-
men, and those who make the feast." They offer wine
and mutton to Jupiter Dapalis, also to Vesta if they
When they thinned a consecrated grove (lucum con-
lucare) (as if [to] let in the light to a shaded place) they
were to offer a hog by way of expiation and pray the
god or goddess to whom it was sacred to be favorable
to them, their house and family and children. What-
ever god or goddess thou art to whom this grove is
sacred, I pray thee be propitious. Should not all groves
DR. T. W. HARRIS
be regarded as a lucus, or consecrated grove, in this
sense? I wish that our farmers felt some such awe
when they cut down our consecrated groves; would
realize that they are sacred to some god.
A lustrum, or sacrifice, of a sow, sheep, and bull
(suovitaurilia) was performed every fifth year, when
various things were prayed for.
Gives several charms to cure diseases, mere magi-
Jan. 19. Went to Cambridge to court.
Dr. Harris says that my cocoons found in Lincoln
in December are of the Attacus cecropia, the largest of
our emperor moths. He made this drawing' of the
four kinds of emperor moths which he says we have.
The cecropia is the largest. The cocoon must be right
end uppermost when they are ready to come out. The
A. Promethea is the only moth whose cocoon has a
fastening wound round the petiole of the leaf, and round
the shoot, the leaf partly folded round it.
That spider whose hole I found, and which I carried
him, he is pretty sure is the Lycosafatifera.
SIn a large and splendid work on the insects of Geor-
gia, by Edwards and Smith (? ), near end of last cen-
tury, up-stairs, I found plates of the above moths, called
not Attacus but Phalcna, and other species of Phalena.
He thinks that small beetle, slightly metallic, which
I saw with grubs, etc., on the yellow lily roots last fall
was a Donax or one of the Donasia ( ?).2
1 [Dr. Harris's drawing is inserted here.]
2 [Donacia is a genus of beetles. Donax is a genus of molluscs.]
In Josselyn's account of his voyage from London to
Boston in 1638, he says, June the first day in the
afternoon, very thick foggie weather, we sailed by an
enchanted island," etc. This kind of remark, to be
found in so many accounts of voyages, appears to be a
fragment of tradition come down from the earliest ac-
count of Atlantis and its disappearance.
Varro, having enumerated certain writers on agri-
culture, says accidentally [sic] that they wrote soluta ra-
tione, i. e. in prose. This suggests the difference between
the looseness of prose and the precision of poetry. A
perfect expression requires a particular rhythm or mea-
sure for which no other can be substituted. The prosaic
is always a loose expression.
Varro divides fences into four kinds, unum natu-
rale, alterum agreste, tertium military, quartumfabrile.
(Many kinds of each.) The first is the living hedge.
One kind of sepes agrestis is our rail fence, and our
other dead wooden farm fences would come under this
head. The military sepes consists of a ditch and ram-
part; is common along highways; sometimes a rampart
alone. The fourth is the mason's fence of stone or brick
(burnt or unburnt), or stone and earth together.
Jan. 22. Saw, January 20th, some tree sparrows in
the yard. Once or twice of late I have seen the mother-
o'-pearl tints and rainbow flocks in the western sky.
The usual time is when the air is clear and pretty cool,
about an hour before sundown. Yesterday I saw a
very permanent specimen, like a long knife-handle of
mother-of-pearl, very pale with an interior blue and
1854] BEFORE-LIGHT OCCUPATIONS
rosaceous tinges. Methinks the summer sky never ex-
hibits this so finely.
When I was at C.'s the other evening, he punched
his cat with the poker because she purred too loud for
R. Rice says he saw a white owl two or three weeks
since. Harris told me on the 19th that he had never
found the snow-flea.
No second snow-storm in the winter can be so fair
and interesting as the first. Last night was very windy,
and to-day I see the dry oak leaves collected in thick
beds in the little hollows of the snow-crust. These
later falls of the leaf.
A fine freezing rain on the night of the 19th pro-
duced a hard crust on the snow, which was but three
inches deep and would not bear.
Jan. 23. Love tends to purify and sublime itself.
It mortifies and triumphs over the flesh, and the bond
of its union is holiness.
The increased length of the days is very observable
of late. What is a winter unless you have risen and
gone abroad frequently before sunrise and by starlight ?
Varro speaks of what he calls, I believe, before-light
(antelucana) occupations in winter, on the farm. Such
are especially milking, in this neighborhood.'
I Speaking of the rustic villa, you must see that the kitchen is
convenient, because some things are done there in the winter be-
fore daylight (antelucanis temporibus); food is prepared and taken."
In the study are not some things to be done before daylight, and a
certain food to be prepared there ?
If one may judge from Josselyn, they began to be
weather-wise very early in New England. He says:
" The obscuring of the smaller stars is a certain sign of
tempests approaching. The resounding of the sea
from the shore, and murmuring of the winds [sic in
Josselyn] in the woods without apparent wind, sheweth
wind to follow.1 The redness of the sky in the
morning, is a token of winds, or rain, or both," etc., etc.
" If the white hills look clear and conspicuous, it is a
sign of fair weather; if black and cloudy, of rain; if
yellow, it is a certain sign of snow shortly to ensue,"
etc. Vide his "Two Voyages."2 He speaks of "the
Earth-nut bearing a princely flower, the beautiful leaved
Pirola," 3 etc. Is n't this the glossy leaved winter-
At noon, go to Worcester.
Jan. 24. In Worcester.
From 9 A. M. to 4 P. M., walked about six miles north-
west into Holden with Blake, returning by Stonehouse
Hill. A very cold day. Less forest near Worcester than
in Concord, and that hardwood. No dark pines in the
horizon. The evergreen laurel is a common underwood,
contrasting agreeably with the snow. Large, broad-
De Quincey's "Historical and Critical Essays" I
have not read (2 vols.). Saw a red squirrel out.
Jan. 25. At noon return to Concord.
I [Cape-Cod, p. 98; Riv. 115.]
2 [Two Voyages to New England, pp. 56, 57.] 3 [Op. cit., p. 59.]
1854] AN OLD ACCOUNT-BOOK
A very cold day.
Saw a man in Worcester this morning who took a
pride in never wearing gloves or mittens. Drives in the
morning. Said he succeeded by keeping his arm and
wrist well covered. He had a large hand, one of his
fingers as big as three of mine. But this morning he
had to give up. The 22d, 23d, 24th, and 25th of this
month have been the coldest spell of weather this
Clear and cold and windy.
Jan. 26. All day at court at Cambridge.
Jan. 27. I have an old account-book, found in Dea-
con R. Brown's garret since his death. The first leaf or
two is gone. Its cover is brown paper, on which, amid
many marks and scribblings, I find written: -
Mr. Ephraim Jones
His Wast Book
It extends from November 8th, 1742, to June 20th,
1743 (inclusive). It appears without doubt from the
contents of this book that he is the one of whom Shat-
tuck writes in his history that he married Mary Hay-
ward, 1728, and died November 29th, 1756, aged 51;
having been captain, town-clerk, and otherwise dis-
tinguished." His father's name was Ephraim, and he
had a son Ephraim. The entries are made apparently
by himself, or a boy, or his wife, or some other when
he was out. The book is filled with familiar Concord
names, the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of the
present generation. Dr. Hartshorn he lived to be
ninety-two -and Dr. Temple send to the store once or
twice. It is more important now what was bought
than who bought it.
The articles most commonly bought were mohair
(commonly with buttons) (a kind of twist to sew on but-
tons with), rum (often only a gill to drink at the store),
- more of these than anything; salt, molasses, shal-
loon, fish, calico, some sugar, a castor hat, almanac,
psalter (and sometimes primer and testament), paper,
knee-buckles and shoe-buckles, garters and spurs by
the. pair, deer skins, a fan, a cart whip,. various kinds
of cloth and trimmings, -as half-thick, osnaburg, a
very little silk, ferret, quality, serge for breeches, etc.,
etc., gloves, a spring knife, an ink-horn, a gun, cap,
spice, a pocket case, timber, iron, etc., earthenware; no
tea (?) (I am in doubt about one or perhaps two en-
tries), nor coffee, nor meal, nor flour. Of the last two
they probably raised all they wanted. Credit is fre-
quently given for timber and once for cloth brought to
On the whole, it is remarkable how little provision
was sold at the store. The inhabitants raised almost
everything for themselves. Chocolate is sold once.
Rum, salt, molasses, fish, a biscuit with their drink, a
little spice, and the like are all that commonly come
under this head that I remember.
On a loose piece of paper is a bill for todey," a
bowl of punch," etc., and on another piece is Jona-
than Dwight's (innholder's ?) bill against the Estate of
1854] AN OLD ACCOUNT-BOOK
Capt. Ephraim Jones for entertainment, etc., etc.
(apparently he treated his company) at divers times for
half a dozen years, amounting to over 146. One entry
is Dea Brown to flip & rum."
The people apparently made their own cloth and
even thread, and hence for the most part bought only
buttons and mohair and a few trimmings.
Feb. 1, 1742. Town of Concord Dr to sundry for
the funerel of Widow Williams daughter to 5
pr gloves @ 1/9 1 D P. @ 2/1 1 0-10-10 "
Jan. 10, 1742 (3). Jona Edes to 3 Raccoon skins 0-12- "
@ 2/9 9 minks @ 1/6 4 musquash @ /3 J
Jan. 18, 1742 (3). John Melven Cr by 1 Grey fox 0- 2- 3 "
Feb. 14, 1742 (3). "Aaron Parker Cr by 100 squirell
skins ... 0- 6- "
Deer skins were sold at from ten to seventeen shil-
lings. Sometimes it is written "old or new tenor."
Many of the customers came from as far as Harvard,
or much farther.
A fan, a jack-knife, or a pair of garters are much more
important relatively to the other goods sold than now.
No butter, nor rice, nor oil, nor candles are sold. They
must have used candles [of their own making], made
their own butter, and done without rice. There is no
more authentic history of those days than this Wast
Book" contains, and, being money matters, it is more
explicit than almost any other statement; something
must be said. Each line contains and states explicitly
a fact. If is the best of evidence of several facts. It
tells distinctly and authoritatively who sold, who bought,
the article, amount, and value, and the date. You could
not easily crowd more facts into one line. You are
warned when the doctor or deacon had a new suit of
clothes, by the charge for mohair, buttons, and trim-
mings, or a castor hat; and here also is entered the
rum which ran down their very throats.
Attended the auction of Deacon Brown's effects a lit-
tle while to-day, a great proportion of old traps, rub-
bish, or trumpery, which began to accumulate in his
father's day, and now, after lying half a century in his
garret and other dust-holes, is not burned, but surviving
neighbors collect and view it, and buy it, and carefully
transport it to their garrets and dust-holes, to lie there
till their estates are settled, when it will start again.
Among his effects was a dried tapeworm and various
articles too numerous and worthless to mention. A pair
of old snow-shoes is almost regularly sold on these occa-
sions, though none of this generation has seen them
I have some good friends from whom I am wont to
part with disappointment, for they neither care what I
think nor mind what I say. The greatest compliment
that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I
thought, and attended to my answer.
We begin to die, not in our senses or extremities, but
in our divine faculties. Our members may be sound, our
sight and hearing perfect, but our genius and imagina-
tion betray signs of decay. You tell me that you are
growing old and are troubled to see without glasses,
but this is unimportant if the divine faculty 6f the seer
shows no signs of decay.
Cut this afternoon a cake of ice out of Walden and
THREE KINDS OF ICE
brought it home in a pail, another from the river, and
got a third, a piece of last year's ice from Sam Barrett's
Pond, at Brown's ice-house, and placed them side by
side. These lumps are not large enough to show the
color. Walden ice has a green tint close by, but is dis-
tinguished by its blueness at a distance. The river ice
inclines to a more opaque white.' Comparing the lumps,
Walden ice was, you might say, more crystalline than
the river, but both showed the effect of heat more than
the Barrett ice of last year, the bubbles being very
much elongated and advanced toward the honeycomb
stage, while in the Barrett ice they were spherical and
there were wide clear spaces. This looked as if it would
Varro, on grafting, says when the wood is of a close
and dry texture they tie a vessel over it from which
water drops slowly, that the shoot may not dry up be-
fore it coalesces; also "by the turning of some leaves
you can tell what season (tempus) of the year it is, as
the olive and white poplar, and willow. For when their
leaves turn, the solstice is said to be past." They had
not such a brilliant change of the leaf as we.
Speaking of the nursery, he says: Herbaeque eliden-
dae, et dum tenerae sunt vellendae, prius enim aridae
factae rixantur, ac celerius rumpuntur, quam sequuntur
(and the weeds are to be levelled and, while they are
tender, pulled up, for if they have first grown tough
they resist and break sooner than come up). .
Contra herba in pratis ad spem foenisiciae nata, non
modo non evellenda in nutricatu, sed etiam non cal-
1 [Walden, p. 327; Riv. 457.]
canda. Quo pecus a prato ablegandum, et omne jumen-
tum, ac etiam homines. Solum enim hominis exitium
herbae, et semitae fundamentum. (On the other hand,
grass in grass-ground, raised with a view to hay, not
only is not to be pulled up while it is growing, but is
not even to be trodden upon. Wherefore the cattle are
to be driven from the mowing, and every beast of bur-
den, and even men. For the sole (track?) of a man's
foot is the destruction of the grass, and the foundation
of a (foot)path.)" Even so early did the farmers raise
this hue and cry about your treading down or going
through their grass.
Jan. 29. A very cold morning. Thermometer, or
mercury, 180 below zero.
Varro says that gluma seems to be a glubendo be-
cause the grain is shelled from its follicle (deglubitur).
Arista, the beard of grain, is so called because it dries
first (quod arescit prima). The grain, granum, is a ge-
rendo, for this is the object of planting, that this may be
borne. But the spica (or ear), which the rustics call
speca, as they have received it from their forefathers,
seems to be named from spes (hope), since they plant
because they hope that this will be hereafter (earn enim
quod sperant fore)."
The village is the place to which the roads tend, a
sort of expansion of the highway, as a lake of a river,
the thoroughfare. and ordinary of travellers, a trivial
or quadrivial place. It is the body of which roads are
the arms and legs. It is from the Latin villa, which,
together with via (a way), or more anciently vea and
A WHITE HARE
vella, Varro derives from veho (to carry), because the
villa is the place to and from which things are carried.
The steward or overseer of the villa was a vilicus, and
those who got their living by teaming (?) (vecturis)
were said vellaturam facere. And whence the Latin
vilis and our word villain ( ? ). The inhabitants are
way-worn by the travel that goes by and over them
without travelling themselves.
Jan. 30. Another cold morning. Mercury down
to 130 below zero.
Frank showed me last night a white hare he had
killed. It was frozen stiff, weighed four pounds, and
was nearly three feet long. Its hind feet made soft
brushes, which painters use in graining doors, etc. The
plumage of partridges is most perfect nowadays. The
white hare is, a dirty white in winter, grayish (?) or
brownish in summer; has peculiar puss-like expression
in profile. This was frozen in the attitude of running,
careering with elastic bound over the snow and amid
the bushes. Now, dead, it is the symbol of that speed
it was capable of. Frozen as it was, it nearly spanned
one breadth of the carpet, or three feet.' This morn-
ing, though not so cold by a degree or two as yester-
day morning, the cold has got more into the house,
and the frost visits nooks never known to be visited
before. The sheets are frozen about the sleeper's face;
the teamster's beard is white with ice. Last night I
felt it stinging cold as I came up the street at 9 o'clock;
it bit my ears and face, but the stars shone all the
2 Vide [p. 86].
84 JOURNAL [JAN. 30
brighter. The windows are all closed up with frost, as
if they were ground glass.
The greater part of last week there was no melting
in the roads nor on roofs. No more yesterday and
to-day. The snow is dry and squeaks under the feet,
and the teams creak as if they needed greasing, -
sounds associated with extremely cold weather.
P. M. Up river on ice and snow to Fair Haven
There is a few inches of snow, perfectly level, which
now for nearly a week has covered the ice. Going to-
ward the sun, you are snow-blinded. At each clump
of willows on the meadow, it looks as if there were a
hillock, out of which they grow. This appearance is
produced by the willow twigs holding up the ice to [the]
height at which it was frozen after the last thaw, about
two feet above the present level. It forms a regularly
rounded hillock. We look at every track in the snow.
Every little while there is the track of a fox maybe
the same one across the river, turning aside some-
times to a muskrat's cabin or a point of ice, where he
has left some traces, and frequently the larger track of
a hound, which has followed his trail. It is much
easier and pleasanter to walk thus on the river, the
snow being shallow and level, and there is no such loud
squeaking or cronching of the snow as in the road, and
this road is so wide that you do not feel confined in it,
and you never meet travellers with whom you have no
The winter, cold and bound out as it is, is thrown to
us like a bone to a famishing dog, and we are expected
THE USES OF WINTER
to get the marrow out of it. While the milkmen in the
outskirts are milking so many scores of cows before
sunrise these winter mornings, it is our task to milk the
winter itself. It is true it is like a cow that is dry, and
our fingers are numb, and there is none to wake us up.
Some desert the field and go into winter quarters in the
city. They attend the oratorios, while the only music
that we countrymen hear is the squeaking of the snow
under our boots. But the winter was not given to us
for no purpose. We must thaw its cold with our genial-
ness. We are tasked to find out and appropriate all the
nutriment it yields. If it is a cold and hard season, its
fruit, no doubt, is the more concentrated and nutty. It
took the cold and bleakness of November to ripen the
walnut, but the human brain is the kernel which the
winter itself matures. Not till then does its shell come
off. The seasons were not made in vain. Because the
fruits of the earth are already ripe, we are not to sup-
pose that there is no fruit left for winter to ripen. It
is for man the seasons and all their fruits exist. The
winter was made to concentrate and harden and ma-
ture the kernel of his brain, to give tone and firmness
and consistency to his thought. Then is the great har-
vest of the year, the harvest of thought. All previous
harvests are stubble to this, mere fodder and green
crop. Now we burn with a purer flame like the stars;
our oil is winter-strained. We are islanded in Atlantic
and Pacific and Indian Oceans of thought, Bermudas,
or Friendly or Spice Islands.
Shall we take refuge in cities in November? Shall
the nut fall green from the tree ? Let not the year be
disappointed of its crop. I knew a crazy man who
walked into an empty pulpit one Sunday and, taking
up a hymn-book, remarked: We have had a good fall
Sfor getting in corn and potatoes. Let us sing Winter."
So I say, Let us sing winter." What else can we
sing, and our voices be in harmony with the season ?
As we walked up the river, a little flock of chicka-
dees (apparently) flew to us from a wood-side fifteen
rods off, and uttered their lively day day day, and fol-
lowed us along a considerable distance, flitting by our
side on the button-bushes and willows. It is the most,
if not the only, sociable bird we have.
Now is the time to fill ice-houses, for fear they may
not have another chance for solid ice. Brown filled his
I will be a countryman. I will not go to the city,
even in winter, any more than the sallows and sweet-
gale by the river do. I see their yellow osiers and
freckled, handsomely imbricated buds,1 still rising above
the ice and snow there, to cheer me.
The white rabbit is a large fellow, well furred. What
does he get to eat, being a vegetable liver ? He must
be hardy and cunning in his way. His race have learned
by long practice to find their food where a newcomer
would inevitably starve.
How retired an otter manages to live! He grows to
be four feet long without any mortal getting a glimpse
of him, as long as a boy.
Sometimes one of those great cakes of green ice from
Walden or Sam Barrett's Pond slips from the ice-man's
A MILD WINTER DAY
sled in the street and lies there like a great emerald, an
object of interest to all travellers.1
The hips of the late rose are still abundant and per-
fect, amid the button-bushes.
Jan. 31. P. M.- To Great Meadows and Beck
The wind is more southerly, and now the warmth of
the sun prevails, and is felt on the back. The snow
softens and melts. It is a beautiful clear and mild
winter day. Our washwoman says she is proud of it.
Any clear day, methinks, the sun is ready to do his part,
and let the wind be right, and it will be warm and
pleasant-like, at least now that the sun runs so high a
course. But I do not melt; there is no thaw in me; I
am bound out still.
I see the tree sparrows, one or two at a time, now
and then, all winter, uttering a faint note, with their
bright-chestnut crown and spot on breast and barred
wings. They represent the sparrows in the winter.
Went to the Great Meadows by the Oak Island. The
maples along the edge of the meadow, which all winter
have been perfectly leafless, have an agreeable mixed,
slightly pepper-and-salt look, spotted or barred with
white lichens. It is an agreeable maze to the eye, so
thick their bare and clean gray limbs.
Many tracks of partridges there along the meadow-
side in the maples, and their droppings where they ap-
pear to have spent the night about the roots and be-
tween the stems of trees. I think they eat the buds of
1 [Walden, p. 327; Riv. 457.]
the azalea. And now, with a mew, preluding a whir,
they go off before me. Coming up, I follow her tracks
to where she eased herself for lightness, and immedi-
ately after are five or six parallel cuts in the snow, y
where her wing struck when she lifted herself
From the ground, but no trace more.
I pass the woodchoppers, busily felling trees or
cutting up those which they have felled. One is meas-
uring his lengths with his axe-helve and does not see
The pitch pines are yellowish, the white incline to
bluish. In the winter, when there are no flowers and
leaves are rare, even large buds are interesting and
somewhat exciting. I go a-budding like a partridge.
I am always attracted at this season by the buds of
the swamp-pink, the poplars, and the sweet-gale.
A hundred years ago, as I learned from Ephraim
Jones's ledger, they sold bark in our street. He gives
credit for a load. Methinks my genius is coeval with
that time. That is no great wildness or selvaggia
that cannot furnish a load of bark, when the forest has
lost its shagginess. This is an attempt to import this
wildness into the cities in a thousand shapes. Bark
is carried thither by ship and by cartloads. Bark con-
tains the principle of tannin, by which not only the
fibre of skins but of men's thoughts is hardened and
consolidated. It was then that a voice was given to
the dog, and a manly tone to the human voice. Ah!
already I shudder for these comparatively degenerate
days of the village, when you cannot collect a load of
bark of good thickness.
Varro thinks that when man reached the pastoral or
second stage and domesticated animals (pecus), "pri-
mum non sine causa putant oves assumptas, et propter
utilitatem, et propter placiditatem (they think not with-
out reason that sheep were first taken, both on account of
their usefulness and on account of their gentleness); for,
as he says, they furnish milk, cheese, their fleece, and
skin. It looks to me as if the sheep had been supplied
with a superfluity of clothing that it might share it
with man, and, as Varro suggests, did not this fleece,
on account of its value, come to be called golden ? was
not this the origin of the fable ?
We too have our thaws. They come to our January
moods, when our ice cracks, and our sluices break
loose. Thought that was frozen up under stern experi-
ence gushes forth in feeling and expression. There is
a freshet which carries away dams of accumulated ice.
Our thoughts hide unexpressed, like the buds under
their downy or resinous scales; they would hardly keep
a partridge from starving. If you would know what
are my winter thoughts look for them in the partridge's
crop. They are like the laurel buds, some leaf, some
blossom buds, which, though food for such indige-
nous creatures, will not expand into leaves and flowers
until summer comes.
"Et primitus oritur herba imbribus primoribus evo-
cata," says Varro.1
I [Walden, p. 343; Riv. 479.]
Feb. 2. Up river on ice to Clematis Brook.
Another warm, melting day, like yesterday. You
can see some softening and relenting in the sky. Ap-
parently the vapor in the air makes a grosser atmo-
sphere, more like that of a summer eve. We go up the
Corner road and take the ice at Potter's Meadow. The
Cliff Hill is nearly bare on the west side, and you hear
the rush of melted snow down its side in one place.
Here and there are regular round holes in the ice over
the meadow, two or three feet in diameter, where the
water appears to be warmer, perchance there is a
spring there, and therein, in shallow water, is seen
the cress and one or two other plants, still quite fresh.
The shade of pines on the snow is in some lights quite
We stopped awhile under Bittern Cliff, the south
side, where it is very warm. There are a few greenish
radical leaves to be seen, primrose and johnswort,
strawberry, etc., and spleenwort still green in the clefts.
These sunny old gray rocks, completely covered with
white and gray lichens and overrun with ivy, are a very
cosy place. You hardly detect the melted snow swiftly
trickling down them until you feel the drops on your
cheek. The winter gnat is seen in the warm air before