January 6, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal: 

….my attention was caught by a snow-flake on my coat sleeve. It was one of those perfect, crystalline, star-shaped ones, six rayed, like a flat sheet with six spokes, only the spokes were perfect little pine trees in shape, arranged around a central spangle. This little object which, with many of its fellows, rested unmelting on my coat, so perfect and beautiful, reminded me that virtue had not lost her pristine vigor yet, and why should man lose heart? Sometimes the pines were worn, and had lost their branches and again it appeared as if several stars had impinged on one another at various angles, making a somewhat spherical mass….There were mingled with these starry flakes small downy pellets also… We are rained and snowed on with gems. I confess that I was a little encouraged, for I was beginning to believe that Nature was poor and mean, and I was now convinced that she turned off as good work as ever.  What a world we live in !  Where are the jewelers’ shops? There is nothing handsomer than a snow-flake and a dew-drop.

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I may say that the maker of the world exhausts his skill with each snow-flake and dew-drop that he sends down. We think that the one mechanically coheres, and that the other simply flows together and falls, but in truth they are the product of enthusiasm, the children of an ecstasy, finished with the artist’s utmost skill.