December 31, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal: 


A beautiful, clear, not very cold day. The shadows on the snow are indigo blue. The pines look very dark. The white-oak leaves are a cinnamon color, the black and red (?) oak leaves a reddish-brown or leather color…A partridge rises from the alders and skims across the river at its widest part, just before me; a fine sight…How glorious the perfect stillness and peace of the winter landscape.

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. So, at a little distance, all the works of nature proceed with sport and frolic. They are more in the eye, and less in the deed.

December 26, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal: 


The snow has fallen so gently that if forms an upright wall on the slenderest twig. The agreeable maze which the  branches make is more obvious than ever, and every twig thus laden is as still as the hillside itself.

December 25, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal: 

Take long walks in stormy weather, or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up.  Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.


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?

December 22, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

How nicely is nature adjusted. The least disturbance of her equilibrium is betrayed and corrects itself. As I looked down on the surface of the brook, I was surprised to see a leaf floating, as I thought, up stream, but I was mistaken.


The motion of a particle of dust on the surface of any brook far inland shows which way the earth declines toward the sea, which way lies the constantly descending route, and the only one.

December 21, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We are tempted to call these the finest days of the year.


Take Fair Haven Pond, for instance, a perfectly level plain of snow, untrodden as yet by any fisherman, surrounded by snow-clad hills, dark evergreen woods, and reddish oak leaves, so pure and still.

December 20, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A clump of white pines seen far westward over the shrub-oak plain which is now lit up by the setting sun, a soft feathery grove, with their gray stems indistinctly seen, like human beings come to their cabin door, standing expectant on the edge of the plain, inspires me with a mild humanity. The trees indeed have hearts. The sun seems to send its farewell ray far and level over the copes to them, and they silently receive it with gratitude, like a group of settlers with their children.

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The pines impress me as human. A slight vaporous cloud floats high over them, while in the west the sun goes down apace behind glowing pines and golden clouds which like mountains skirt the horizon. Nothing stands up more free from blame in this world than a pine-tree.

December 18, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:


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.


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 an hour after sunrise will 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…the stems and branches of the trees look black by contrast. 


You wander zigzag through the aisles of the woods where stillness and twilight reign. I do not know but a pine woods is as substantial and as memorable a fact as a friend. I am more sure to come away from it cheered than from this who are nearest to being my friends.   [note:  photos are of spruce trees not pines!]

December 15, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I still recall that characteristic winter evening of December 9th. The cold, dry, and wholesome diet my mind and senses necessarily fed on,  —oak leaves, bleached and withered weeds that rose above the snow, the now dark green of the pines, and perchance the faint metallic chip of a single tree sparrow; the hushed stillness of the wood at sundown, aye, all the winter day, the short boreal twilight, the smooth serenity and reflections of the pond, still alone free from ice; the melodious hooting of the owl, heard at the same time with the yet more distant whistle of a locomotive, more aboriginal, and perchance more enduring here than that, heard above all the voices of Concord, as if they were not, the last strokes of the woodchopper (how little he is Anglicized!) who presently bends his steps homeward; the gilded bar of cloud across the apparent outlet of the pond, conducting my thoughts into the eternal west, the deepening horizon glow, and the hasty walk homeward to enjoy the long winter evening. 


The hooting of the owl; that is a sound which my red predecessors heard here more than a thousand years ago it rings far and wide, occupying the space rightfully, — grand, primeval, aboriginal sound. There is no whisper in it of the Bulkeleys, the Flints, the Hosmers, who recently squatted here, nor of the first parish, nor of Concord Fight, nor of the last town-meeting.

December 14, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:


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.  What isles those western clouds, in what a sea!

December 13, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:


December 12, 2018 Photo

My first true winter walk is perhaps that which I take on the river, or where I cannot go in the summer. It is the walk peculiar to winter, and now first I take it. I see that the fox has already taken the same walk before me, just along the edge of the button-bushes where not even he can go in the summer. We both turn our steps hither at the same time.

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Now at 2:30 P.M., the melon-rind arrangement of the clouds, really parallel columns of fine mackerel sky reaching quite across the heavens from west to east with clear intervals of blue sky; and a fine-grained vapor like spun glass extending in the same direction beneath the former. In half an hour, all the mackerel sky is gone.  What an ever-changing scene is the sky, its drifting cirrus and stratus!