March 5, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

To the Beeches.  A misty afternoon, but warm, threatening rain. Standing on Walden, whose eastern shore is laid waste, men walking on the hillside a quarter of a mile off are singularly interesting objects, seen through the mist, which has the effect of a mirage. The persons of the walkers are black on the snowy ground, and the limited horizon makes them the more important in the scene. This kind of weather is very favorable to our landscape. I must not forget the lichen-painted boles of the beeches.

March 4, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I find that the ice of Walden has melted or softened so much that I sink an inch or more at every step and hardly any where can I cut out a small cake the water collects so fast in hole.

But at last in a harder & dryer place I succeeded— It was now 15 1/2 inches thick….

March 3, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The red maple sap, which I first noticed the 21st of February, is now frozen up in the auger holes, and thence down the trunk to the ground, except in one place where the hole was made on the south side of the tree, where it is melted and is flowing a little. Generally, then, when the thermometer is thus low, say below freezing point, it does not thaw in the auger holes. There is no expanding of buds of any kind, nor are early birds to be seen. Nature was, thus, premature, anticipated her own revolutions with respect to the sap of trees, the buds (spiraea, at least), and birds. The warm spell ended with February 26th.

March 2, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We talk about spring as at hand before the end of February, and yet it will be two good months, one sixth part of the whole year, before we can go a-Maying. There may be a whole month of solid and uninterrupted winter yet, plenty of ice and good sleighing.

We may not even see the bare ground, and hardly any water; and yet we sit down and warm our spirits annual with the distant prospect of spring. 

March 1, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I have thoughts, as I walk, on some subject that is running in my head, but all their pertinence seems gone before I can get home to set them down.

The most valuable thoughts which I entertain are anything but what I thought. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled.

February 28, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

As it is important to consider nature from the point of view of science, remembering the nomenclature and systems of men, and so, if possible go a step further in that direction,

so it is equally important often to ignore or forget all that men presume that they know, and take an original and unprejudiced view of Nature, letting her make what impression she will on you, as the first men, and all children, and natural men do.

February 27, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

P. M. – To Cliffs.

Though it was a dry, powdery snow-storm yesterday, the sun is now so high that the snow is soft and sticky this afternoon. The sky, too, is soft to look at, and the air to feel on my cheek.

Health makes the poet, or sympathy with nature, a good appetite for his food, which is constantly renewing him, whetting his senses. Pay for your victuals, then, with poetry; give back life for life.

February 26, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

In composition I miss the hue of the mind. As if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning and evening—without their colors—or the heavens without their azure.

February 25, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

When it snowed yesterday very large flakes, an inch in diameter, Aunt said, “They are picking geese.” This, it seems, is an old saying.

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature, if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you, know that the morning and spring of your life are past.  Thus you may feel your pulse.

February 24, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Clear, but very cold and windy for the season. Northerly wind; smokes blown southerly.

Ground frozen harder still; but probably now and hereafter what ground freezes at night will in great part melt by middle of day. However, it is so cold this afternoon that there is no melting of the ground throughout the day.

February 23, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

9 AM to F.H. Pond up river—

A still warmer day— The snow is so solid that it still bears me—though we have had several warm suns on it. It is melting gradually under the sun. In the morning I make but little impression in it.


As it melts it acquires a rough but regularly waved surface. It is inspiriting to feel the increased heat of the sun reflected from the snow— There is a slight mist above the fields—through which the crowing of cocks sounds spring-like.

I sit by a maple on a maple— It wears a shaggy coat of lichens summer & winter.

February 22, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The whole of the day should not be daytime, nor of the night night-time, but some portion be rescued from time to oversee time in. All our hours must not be current; all our time must not lapse. There must be one hour at least which the day did not bring forth, — of ancient parentage and long-established nobility, ––which will be a serene and lofty platform overlooking the rest.

We should make our notch every day on our characters, as Robinson Crusoe on his stick. We must be at the helm at least once a day; we must feel the tiller-rope in our hands, and know that if we sail, we steer.

February 20, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We have had but one & no more this winter (and that I think was the first) of those gentle moist snows which lodge perfectly on the trees—and make perhaps the most beautiful sight of any.

February 19, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is the unexplored grandeur of the storm which keeps up the spirits of the traveller. When I contemplate a hard and bare life in the woods, I find my last consolation in its untrivialness— Shipwreck is less distressing because the breakers do not trifle with us. We are resigned as long as we recognise the sober and solemn mystery of nature. The dripping mariner finds consolation and sympathy in the infinite sublimity of the storm— It is a moral force as well as he. With courage he can lay down his life on the strand, for it never turned a deaf ear to him—nor has he ever exhausted its sympathy.

In the love of narrow souls I make many short voyages, but in vain—I find no sea room—but in great souls I sail before the wind without a watch, and never reach the shore.

February 18, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Sometimes when I go forth at 2 Pm—there is scarcely a cloud in the sky—but soon one will appear in the west & steadily advance & expand itself, & so change the whole character of the pm & my thoughts.

The history of the sky for that pm will be but the development of that cloud.

February 17, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The mice tracks are very amusing. It is surprising how numerous they are—& yet I rarely see one— ….Any tussocky ground is scored with them—  ….You see deep & distinct channels in the snow in some places as if a whole colony had long traveled to & fro in them—a high-way—a well-known trail—but suddenly they will come to an end—& yet they have not dived beneath the snow…

February 16, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Snows again this morning–  For the last month the weather has been remarkably changeable; hardly 3 days together alike.  That is an era—not yet arrived—when the earth being partially thawed, melts the slight snows which fall on it.

February 15, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Why should we not still continue to live with the intensity & rapidity of infants? Is not the world––are not the heavens––as unfathomed as ever? Have we exhausted any joy––any sentiment?