February 28, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

As I stood by Eagle Field wall, I heard a fine rattling sound from some dry weeds at my elbow. It was occasioned by the wind rattling the fine seeds in those pods of the indigo-weed which were still closed, a distinct rattling din….not a mere rustling of dry weeds, but the shaking of a rattle or a hunter rattles…

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:


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

February 26, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Those great cakes of ice which the last freshet floated up on to uplands now lie still further from the edge of the recent ice.


You are surprised to see them lying with perpendicular edges a foot thick on bare, grassy upland where there is no other sign of water, sometimes wholly isolated by bare grass there.

February 25, 1859

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

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 the day. However, it is so cold this afternoon that there is no melting of the ground throughout the day.


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 18, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

As I remember January we had one? Great thaw succeeded by severe cold— It was harder getting about—though there may have been no more snow because it was light—& there was more continuous cold & clear sparkling weather– But the last part of January & all February thus far has been alternate thaw & freeze & snow.


February 17, 1854

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

In the early part of winter there was no walking on the snow–but after January perhaps–when the snow banks had settled & their surfaces many times thawed & frozen–become indurated in fact–you could walk on the snow crust pretty well.


February 15,1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

All day a steady, warm, imprisoning rain, carrying off the snow, not unmusical on my roof. It is a rare time for the student and reader who cannot go abroad in the P.M., provided he can keep awake, for we are wont to be as drowsy as cats in such weather. Without, it is not walking, but wading.


It is so long since I have heard it, that the steady rushing, soaking sound of the rain on the shingles is musical. The fire needs no replenishing, and we save our fuel. It seems like a distant forerunner of spring. It is because I am allied to the elements that the sound of the rain is thus soothing to me. This sound sinks into my spirit, as the water into the earth, reminding me of the season when snow and ice will be no more, when the earth will be thawed, and drink up the rain as fast as it falls.

February 14, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We shall see but a little way, if we require to understand what we see. How few things can a man measure with the tape of his understanding! How many greater things might he be seeing in the mean while! One afternoon in the fall, November 21st, I saw Fair Haven Pond with its island and meadow; between the island and the shore, a strip of perfectly smooth water in the lee of the island and two ducks sailing on it, and something more I saw which cannot easily be described, which made me say to myself that the landscape could not be improved. I did not see how it could be improved.


Yet I do not know what these things can be. I began to see such objects only when I leave off understanding them, and afterwards remember them. I did not appreciate them before. But I get no farther than this. How adapted these forms and colors to our eyes, a meadow and its islands. What are these things? Yet the hawks and ducks keep so aloof, and nature is so reserved. We are made to love the river and the meadow, as the wind to ripple the water.

February 12, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I find that it is an excellent walk for variety and novelty and wildness to keep round the edge of the meadow. The ice not being strong enough to bear, and transparent as water, on the bare ground or snow just between the highest water mark and the present water line is a narrow, meandering walk rich in unexpected views and objects. The line of rubbish which marks the higher tides, withered flags and seeds and twigs and cranberries, is to my eyes a very agreeable and significant line which nature traces long the edge of the meadows. It is a strongly marked, enduring, natural line which in summer reminds me that the water has once stood over where I walk. Sometimes the grooved trees tell the same tale. The wrecks of the meadow fill a thousand coves, and tell a thousand tales to those who can read them; our prairial, mediterranean shore.


The gentle rise of water around the trees in the meadow—where oaks & maples stand far out in the sea — And young elms sometimes are seen standing close around some rocks which lifts its head above the water—as if protecting it preventing it from being washed away though in truth they owe their origin & preservation to it. It first invited & detained their seed & now preserves the soil in which they grow. A pleasant reminiscence of the rise of waters. To go up one side of the river & down the other following this way which meanders so much more than the river itself— If you cannot go on the ice—you are then gently compelled to take this course which is on the whole more beautiful—to follow the sinuosities of the meadow. Between the highest water mark & the present water line is a space generally from a few feet to a few rods in width. When the water comes over the road, then my spirits rise—when the fences are carried away. A prairial walk—


February 11, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Perhaps the best evidence of an amelioration of the climate–at least that the snows are less deep than formerly–is the snow-shoes which still lie about in so many garrets-now useless–though the population of this town has not essentially increased for 75 years past–and the traveling within the limits of the town accordingly not much facilitated. No man ever uses them now–yet the old men used them in their youth.


February 10, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

No finer walking in any respect than on our broad meadow highway in the winter….


I do not know of any more exhilarating walking than up or down a broad field of smooth ice like this in a cold, glittering winter day….