April 17, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The Pond is still half covered—with ice & it will take another day like this to empty it. It is clear up tight to the shore on the S side. Dark grey cold ice—completely saturated with water— The air from over it is very cold— The scent of the earliest spring flowers! I smelt the willow catkins today. Tender—& innocent—after this rude winter—yet slightly sickening— — Yet full of vernal promise.

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This odor— How unlike any thing that winter afforded—or nature has afforded this 6 months! A mild sweet vernal scent— Not highly spiced & intoxicating as some erelong—but attractive to bees— That early yellow smell. The odor of spring—of life developing amid buds—of the earth’s epithalamium— The first flowers are not the highest scented—as catkins—as the first birds are not the finest singers—as the black-birds & song sparrows &c. The beginnings of the year are humble. But though this fragrance is not rich—it contains & prophecies all others in it.