December 11, 1855

P1175714.jpgin Thoreau’s Journal:

We get only transient and partial glimpses of the beauty of the world. Standing at the right angle, we are dazzled by the colors of the rainbow in colorless ice. From the right point of view, every storm and every drop in it is a rainbow. Beauty and music are not mere traits and exceptions; they are the rule and character. It is the exception that we see and hear.

December 10, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I discover a strange track in the snow, and learn that some migrating otter has made across from the river to the wood, by my yard and the smith’s shop, in the silence of the night. I cannot but smile at my own wealth when I am thus reminded that every chink and cranny of nature is full to overflowing. Such an incident as this startles me with the assurance that the primeval nature is still working, and makes tracks in the snow. It is my own fault that he must thus skulk across my premises by night. Now I yearn toward him, and heaven to me consists in a complete communion with the otter nature. He travels a more wooded path by watercourses and hedgerows, I by the highways, but though his tracks are now crosswise to mine, our courses are not divergent, but we shall meet at last.


December 9, 1859

PC060010.jpgin Thoreau’s Journal:

How prominent the late or fall flowers are, now withered above the snow, —the goldenrods and asters, Roman wormwood, etc., etc.! These late ones have a sort of life extended into winter, hung with icy jewelry.

December 8, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

How is it that what is actually present and transpiring is commonly perceived by the common sense and understanding only, is bare and bald, without halo, or the blue enamel of intervening air? But let it be past or to come, and it is at once idealized.


December 7, 1838


Never do we live a quite free life, like Adam’s, but are enveloped in an invisible network of speculations. Our progress is from one such speculation to another, and only at rare intervals do we perceive that it is no progress. Could we for moment drop this by-play, and simply wonder without reference or inference!

December 6, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Go out at 9 AM to see the glaze. It is already half fallen, melting off. The dripping trees and wet falling ice will wet you through like rain in the woods. It is a lively sound, a busy tinkling, the incessant brattling and from time to time rushing, crashing sound of this falling ice, and trees suddenly erecting themselves when relieved of their loads. It is now perfect only on the north sides of woods which the sun has not touched or affected. Looking at a dripping tree between you and the sun, you may see here or there one or another rainbow color, a small brilliant point of light.


December 5, 1853

P1010001.jpgin Thoreau’s Journal:

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 15 minutes before — Apparently not till the sun had sunk thus far did I stand in the angle of reflection.

December 3, 1853

December 3, 1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:
I see along the sides of the river 2 to 4 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 remains of a thin sheet of ice, which melted as the river went down & in drops formed around & ran down these cores—& again froze & being thicker than the surrounding ice have outlasted it.


December 2, 1839

December 2, 1839 in Thoreau’s Journal:

A rare landscape immediately suggests a suitable inhabitant, whose breath shall be its wind, whose moods its seasons, and to whom it will always to be fair. To be chafed and worried, and not as serene as nature, does not become one whose nature is as steadfast….PC010048.jpg


December 1, 1853


December 1, 1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:

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 & shrubs which retain their withered leaves through the winter—shrub oaks—& young white red & black oacks—the lower branches of larger trees of the last mentioned species—horn-beam &c & young hickories seem to form an intermediate class between deciduous & evergreen trees— They may almost be called the ever-reds. Their leaves which are falling all winter long serve as a shelter to rabbits & partridges & other winter quadrupeds & birds—even the little chickadees love to skulk amid them & peep out from behind them. I hear their faint silvery lisping notes‚ like tinkling glass—& occasionally a sprightly day-day-day—as they inquisitively hop nearer & nearer to me. They are our most honest & innocent little bird—drawing yet nearer to us as the winter advances—& deserve best of any of the walker.