December 11, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The winter with its snow and ice is not an evil to be corrected…..To perceive freshly, with fresh senses, is to be inspired.  Great winter itself looked like a precious gem reflecting rainbow colors from one angle. My body is all sentient. As I go here or there, I am tickled by this or that I come into contact with, as if I touched the wires of a battery. I can generally recall, have fresh in my mind, several scratches last received. These I continually recall to mind, reimpress and harp upon. The age of miracles is each moment thus returned; now it is wild apples, now river reflections, now a flock of lesser red-polls. In winter, too, resides immortal youth and perennial summer….


What if we could daguerreotype our thoughts and feelings !  

December 10, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Another still more glorious day, if possible. Indian summer, even. These are among the finest days in the year, on account of the wholesome bracing coolness and clearness. Paddled up Assabet. 


Passed in some places between shooting ice crystals extending from both sides of the stream.

December 8, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It snowed in the night of the 6th and the ground is now covered.  our first snow 2 inches deep  A week ago I saw cows being driven home from pasture—  Now they are kept at home. Here’s an end to their grazing.

The farmer improves this first light snow to accomplish some pressing jobs—to move some particular rocks on a drag, or the like—  I perceive how quickly he has seized the opportunity. 


I see no tracks now of cows or men or boys beyond the edge of the wood—suddenly they are shut up—the remote pastures & hills beyond the woods are now closed to cows & cowherds aye & to cowards  I am struck by this sudden solitude & remoteness which these places have acquired.  The dear privacy & retirement & solitude which winter makes possible—carpeting the earth with snow, furnishing more than woolen feet to all walkers, crounching the snow only. 


From Fair Haven I see the hills & fields aye & the icy woods in the Corner shine gleam with the dear old wintery sheen.  Those are not surely the cottages I have seen all summer. They are some cottages which I have in my mind.

December 7, 1856

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

That grand old poem called Winter is round again without any connivance of mine. As I sit under Lee’s Cliff, where the snow is melted, amid sere pennyroyal and frostbitten catnip, I look over my shoulder upon an arctic scene, and see with surprise the pond, a dumb white surface of ice speckled with snow, just as so many winters before, where so lately were lapsing waves or smooth, reflecting water….

It seemed as if winter had come without any interval since midsummer…

December 6, 1856

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

On all sides in swamps and about their edges, and in the woods, the bare shrubs are sprinkled with buds more or less noticeable and pretty, their little gemmae or gems their most vital and attractive parts now, almost all the greenness and color left, greens and salads for the birds and rabbits. Our eyes go searching along the stem for what is most vivacious and characteristic, the concentrated summer gone into winter quarters.

For we are hunters pursuing the summer on snow-shoes and skates all winter long, and there is really but one season in our hearts.

December 5, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Many living leaves are very dark red now the only effect of the frost on them—the checker-berry—Andromeda—low cedar and more or less lambkill—&c. Saw & heard a downy woodpecker on an apple tree—have not many winter birds, like this & the chickadee, a sharp note like tinkling glass or icicles  —  The chip of the tree-sparrow also & whistle of the shrike is not wintry in the same way?—& The sonorous hooting owl—  But not so the jay & E. Linaria —& still less the crow.  Now for the short days & early twilight—in which I hear the sound of wood chopping.  

The sun goes down behind a low cloud & the world is darkened—the partridge is budding on the apple tree—& burst away from the pathside.  Fair Haven pond is skimmed completely over—  The ground has been frozen more or less—about a week—not very hard….

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

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Look at the trees bare or rustling with sere brown leaves—except the evergreens—their buds dormant at the foot of the leaf-stalks. Look at the fields russet & withered—& the various sedges & weeds with dry bleached culms— Such is our relation to nature at the present, —such plants are we. We have no more sap—nor verdure—nor color now—

….but even in winter we maintain a temperate cheer—& a serene inward life—not destitute of warmth & melody—  Only the cold evergreens wear the aspect of summer now and shelter the winter birds.