January 11, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

If I travel in a simple, primitive, original manner, standing in a truer relation to men and nature, travel away from the old and commonplace, get some honest experience of life, if only out of my feet and homesickness,

then it becomes less important whither I go or how far.

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I so see the world from a new and more commanding point of view.

January 10, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I love to wade and flounder through the swamp now, these bitter cold days, when the snow lies deep on the ground, and I need travel but little way from the town to get to a Nova Zembla solitude, to wade through the swamps all snowed up, untracked by man, into which the fine dry snow is still drifting till it is even with the tops of the water andromedia, and half way up the high blueberry bushes.


I penetrate to islets inaccessible in summer, my feet slumping to the sphagnum far out of sight beneath, where the alderberry glows yet….and perchance a single tree sparrow lisps by my side; where there are few tracks even of wild animals. Perhaps only a mouse or two have burrowed up by the side of some twig, and hopped away in straight lines on the surface of the light, deep snow, as if too timid to delay, to another hole by the side of another bush, and a few rabbits have run in a path amid the blueberries and alders about the edge of the swamp.

This is instead of a Polar Expedition, and going after Franklin. 

January 9, 1858

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Snows again….The snow is very moist, with large flakes. Looking toward Trilllium wood, the nearer flakes appear to move quite swiftly, often making the impression of a continuous white line. They are also seen to move directly, and nearly horizontally. But the more distant flakes appear to loiter in the air, as if uncertain how they will approach the earth, or even to cross the course of the former, and are always seen as simple and distinct flakes. I think that this difference is simply owing to the fact that the former pass quickly over the field of view, while the latter are much longer in it.


January 9, 2019 Photo

January 8, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Today it is very warm and peasant.  Walk to Walden….After December all weather that is not wintry is spring-like. How changed are our feelings and thoughts by this more genial sky!  When I get to the railroad, I listen from time to time to hear some sound out of the distance which will express the mood nature. The cock and the hen, that pheasant which we have domesticated, are perhaps the most sensitive among domestic animals to atmospheric changes. You cannot listen a moment such a day as this, but you will hear from far or near the clarion of the cock celebrating this new season, yielding to the influence of the south wind, or the drawling note of the the hen dreaming of eggs that are to be. These are the sounds that fill the air, and no hum of insects. They are affected like voyagers on approaching the land. 


We discover a new world every time we see the earth again after it has been covered for a season with snow.

January 7, 1851

 in Thoreau’s Journal:


The life, the joy that is in blue sky after a storm. There is no account of the blue sky in history.  Before I walked in the ruts of travel, now I adventured….

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.


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.

January 5, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal: 


What a world we live in, where myriads of these little disks, so beautiful to the most prying eye, are whirled down on every traveler’s coat––the observant and the unobservant––on the restless squirrel’s fur, on the far-stretching fields and forests, the wooded dells and the mountain tops. Far, far away from the haunts of men, they roll down some little slope, fall over and come to their bearings, and melt or lose their beauty in the mass, ready anon to swell some little rill with their contribution, and so, at last the universal ocean from which they came.

January 4, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal: 

….I went through the swamp, and the yellow birches sent forth a yellow gleam which each time made my heart beat faster. Occasionally you come to a dead and leaning white birch, beset with large fungi like ears or little shelves, with rounded edge above. 


I walked with the yellow birch.

January 3, 1861

in Thoreau’s Journal: 


New Hampshire courts have lately been deciding––as if it were for them to decide––whether the top of Mt. Washington belonged to A. or to B.  ––and it being decided in favor of B., as I hear–– he went up one winter with the proper officers and took formal possession. But I think that the top of Mt. Washington should not be private property; it should be but an opportunity for modesty and reverence, or if only to suggest that earth has higher uses than we commonly put her to…

January 2, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal: 


In this clear air and bright sunlight, the ice covered trees have a new beauty, especially the birches along under the edge of Warren’s wood….bent quite to the ground in every kind of curve….The birch is remarkable, perhaps, from the feathery form of the tree, whose numerous small branches sustain so great a weight, bending it to the ground; and, moreover, because, from the color of the bark, the core is less observable….The birches droop over in all directions, like ostrich feathers.

January 1, 1854

 in Thoreau’s Journal: 


….As the hunters are forward to take the field as soon as the first snow has fallen, so he who would make the most of his life for discipline must be abroad early and late, in spite of cold and wet, in pursuit of nobler game, whose traces there are most distinct, —a life which we seek not to destroy, but to make our own.