December 31

1840 in Thoreau’s Journal:

There must be respiration as well as aspiration–  We should not walk on tiptoe, but healthily expand to our full circumference on the soles of our feet…


If aspiration be repeated long without respiration–it will be no better than expiration, or simply losing one’s breath–  In the healthy, for every aspiration there will be a respiration, which is to make his idea take shape and give its tone to the character.  Every time he steps buoyantly up—he steps solidly down again, and stands the firmer on the ground for his independence upon it. We should fetch the whole-heel-sole-and toe-horizontally down to earth.

1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:


….It is a remarkable sight, this snow-clad landscape, the fences and bushes half-buried, and the warm sun on it…

December 30, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal: 


When the snow is falling thick and fast, the flakes nearest you seem to be driving straight to the ground, while the more distant seem to float in the air in a quivering bank, like feathers or like birds at play, and not as if sent on any errand.

December 29, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal: 

 …A driving snow-storm all day, imprisoning most, stopping the cars, blocking up the roads…


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 deciduous ones are left to rustle, and our cold immortal evergreens. Some lichenous thoughts still adhere to us.

December 28, 1840

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The snow hangs on the trees as the fruit of the season.


In those twigs which the wind has preserved naked there is a warmer green for the contrast. The whole tree exhibits a kind of interior and household comfort, a sheltered and covert aspect.

December 24, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I want to go soon and live away by the pond where I shall hear only the wind whispering among the reeds – It will be success if I shall have left myself behind. But my friends ask what I will do when I get there? Will it not be employment enough to watch the progress of the seasons?


I discovered this little hut off trail and deep in the woods near a shore of Barville Pond, Sandwich, NH on a recent snowy day. Made me think of it as a base “to watch the progress of the seasons.”

December 23, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The snow which we have had for the past week or 10 days has been remarkably light & dry. It is pleasant walking in the woods now when the sun is just coming out & shining on the woods freshly covered with snow—


At a distance the oak woods look very venerable—a fine hale wintry aspect things wear and the pines all snowed up even suggest comfort. Where boughs cross each other much snow is caught—which now in all woods is gradually coming down.

December 22, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A slight whitening of snow last evening….just enough to spoil the skating now 10 days old on the ponds—


Walden skimmed over in the widest part, but some acres still open—will prob. freeze entirely to-night if this weather holds.


December 20

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

1840: My home is as much of nature as my heart embraces.

1851: Go out before sunrise, or stay out till sunset.


1854: It has been a glorious winter day; its elements so simple, the sharp, clear air the white snow everywhere covering the earth, and the polished ice.

Fall-Winter 1845-46

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Nature and human life are as various to our several experiences as our constitutions are various— Who shall say what prospect life offers to another?

Could a greater miracle take place than if we should look through each other’s eyes for an instant….


From the hearth to the field is a great distance….


This country is not settled nor discovered yet.

December 18, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Rain. It rains but little this afternoon, though there is no sign of fair weather. It is a lichen day. The pitch pines are very inspiriting to behold. Their green is as much enlivened and freshened as that of the lichens. It suggests a sort of sunlight on them, though not even a patch of clear sky is to be seen to-day. As dry and olive or slate-colored lichens are of a fresh and living green, so the already green pine needles have acquired a far livelier tint, as if they enjoyed this moisture as much as the lichens do. They seem to be lit up more than when the sun falls on them. Their trunks and those of trees generally, not being wet, are very black and the bright lichens on them are so much more remarkable. Apples are thawed now, and are very good. Their juice is the best kind of bottled cider that I know.


They are all good in this state, and your jaws are the cider press. The oak woods a quarter of a mile off appear more uniformly red then ever. The withered leaves, being thoroughly saturated with moisture, are of a livelier color, and they are not only redder for being wet, but thorough the obscurity of the mist one leaf runs into another, and the whole mass makes an impression.

December 17, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:


The winter morning is the time to see in perfection the woods and shrubs wearing their snowy and frosty dress. Even he who visits them half and hour after sunrise will [find they] have lost some of their most delicate and fleeting beauties. The trees wear their morning burden but coarsely after midday, and it no longer expresses the character of the tree.

December 15, 1837

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Jack Frost…I observe that upon the edge of the melting frost on the windows, Jack is playing singular freaks, now bundling together his needle-shaped leaves so as to resemble fields waving with grain, or shocks of wheat rising here and there from the stubble. One one side, the vegetation of the torrid zone is presented, high-towering palms, and wide-spread banyans such as we see in the pictures of oriental scenery.

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On the other, are arctic pines, stiff-frozen with branches downcast, like the arms of tender men in frosty weather. In some instances the panes are covered with little feathery flocks where number of radii varying from three to seven or eight. The crystalline particles are partial to the creases and faults in the glass and when these extend from sash to sash, form complete hedgerows, or miniature watercourses, where dense masses of crystal foliage “high overarched embower.”


December 14, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:  

We have now the scenery of winter, though the snow is but an inch or two deep…Ah, who can tell the serenity and clarity of a New England winter sunset? This could not be till the cold and the snow came. Ah, what isles those western clouds! in what a sea! Just after sunset there is a broad pillar of light for many minutes in the west.


December 12

December 12, 1840 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The young pines springing up in the cornfields from year to year are to me a much more refreshing fact than the most abundant harvests. My last stronghold is the forest.

December 12, 1851 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Ah, dear nature, the mere remembrance, after a short forgetfulness, of the pine woods! I come to it as a hungry man to a crust of bread.

December 12, 1859 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The night comes on early these days, and I soon see the pine tree tops distinctly outlined against the…cold western sky.