February 28, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

To-day it snows again, covering the ground. To get the value of the storm, we must be out a long time and travel far in it, so that it may fairly penetrate our skin, and we be, as it were, turned inside out to it, and there be no part in us but is wet or weather-beaten, so that we become storm men instead of fair-weather men.


February 27, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Walking in the woods, it may be some afternoon, the shadow of the wings of a thought flits across the landscape of my mind, and I am reminded how little eventful are our lives. What have been all these wars and rumors of wars, and modern discoveries and improvements, so called? A mere irritation in the skin.


But this shadow which is so soon past, and whose substance is not detected, suggests that there are events of importance whose interval is to us a true historic period. 

February 24, 1857


in Thoreau’s Journal:

A fine spring morning. The ground is almost completely bare again. There has been a frost in the night. Now at half past eight it is melted and wets my feet like a dew. The water on the meadow this still bright morning is smooth as in April. I am surprised to hear the strain of a song-sparrow from the river side, and as I cross from the causeway to the hill, thinking of the bluebird, I that instant hear one’s note from deep in the softened air…Their short rich warble curls through the air…It seems to be one of those early springs of which we have heard, but which we have never experienced.

February 23, 1860


in Thoreau’s Journal:

A fact must be the vehicle of some humanity in order to interest us. Otherwise it is like giving a man a stone when he asks for bread. Ultimately the moral is all in all, and we do not mind it if inferior truth is sacrificed to superior, as when the annalist fables, and makes animals speak and act like men. It must be warm, moist, incarnated, have been breathed on at least. A man has not seen a thing who has not felt it.

February 22, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

A mild misty day….the ringlets & ends of usnea are so expanded & puffed out with light & life….they take the place of leaves in the winter.— The clusters dripping with moisture…

February 21, 1855


in Thoreau’s Journal:

We now notice the snow on the mountains….I think there can be no more arctic scene than these mountains, on the edge of the horizon, completely crusted over with snow, the sun shining on them….the snow has a singular smooth and crusty appearance, and by contrast you see even single evergreens rising here and there above it….

February 20, 1857


in Thoreau’s Journal:

What is the relation between a bird and the ear that appreciates its melody, to whom, perchance, it is more charming and significant than to any one else? Certainly they are intimately related, and the one was made for the other. It is a natural fact. If I were to discover that a certain kind of stone by the pond shore was affected, say partially disintegrated by a particular natural sound, as of a bird or insect, I see that one could not be completely described without describing the other.

I am that stone by the pond side.

February 19, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

Everywhere snow—gathered into sloping drifts about the walls & fences—& beneath the snow the frozen ground—and men are compelled to deposit the summer’s provision in burrows in the earth like the ground-squirrel. Many creatures daunted by the prospect migrated in the fall, but man remains and walks over the frozen snow crust—and over the stiffened rivers & ponds.  & draws now upon his summer stores. Life is reduced to its lowest terms. There is no home for you now—in this freezing wind but in that shelter which you prepared in the summer— You steer straight across the fields to that in season.  I can with difficulty tell when I am over the river. There is a similar crust over my heart. Where I rambled in the summer—& gathered flowers and rested on the grass by the brookside in the shade—now no grass nor flowers—nor brook nor shade—but cold unvaried snow stretching mile after mile and no place to sit.

February 18, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

One discovery in Meteorology, one significant observation is a good deal. I am grateful to the man who introduces order among the clouds. Yet I look up into the heavens so fancy free, I am almost glad not to know any law for the winds.

February 17, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

Perhaps the peculiarity of those western vistas was partly owing to the shortness of the days when we naturally look to the heavens & make the most of the little light.— When we live an arctic life. When the woodchopper’s axe reminds us of twilight at 3 o’clock p.m. When the morning & the evening literally make the whole day.

When I travelled as it were between the portals of the night—& the path was narrow as well as blocked with snow.

February 16, 1859


in Thoreau’s Journal:

From the entrance of the mill road, I look back through the sunlight, this soft afternoon, to some white pine tops near Jenny Dugan’s. Their flattish boughs rest stratum above stratum like a cloud, a green mackerel sky, hardly reminding me of the concealed earth so far beneath. They are like a flaky crust of the earth, a more ethereal, terebinthine, evergreen earth….My eyes nibble the piny sierra which makes the horizon’s edge as a hungry man nibbles a cracker.

February 15, 1855


in Thoreau’s Journal:

All day a steady, warm, imprisoning rain, carrying off the snow, not unmusical on my roof. It is a rare time for the student and reader who cannot go aboard in the P.M., provided he can keep awake, for we are wont to be as drowsy as cats in such weather. Without, it is not walking, but wading. It is so long since I have heard it, that the steady rushing, soaking sound of the rain on the shingles is musical. The fire needs no replenishing, and we save our fuel. It seems like a distant forerunner of spring. It is because I am allied to the elements that the sound of the rain is thus soothing to me. This sound sinks into my spirit, as the water into the earth, reminding me of the season when snow and ice will be no more, when the earth will be thawed, and drink up the rain as fast as it falls.

February 13, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Winter comes to make walking possible where there was no walking in the summer. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 2.33.38 PM.jpeg

Not till winter can we take possession of the whole of our territory…

The wonderful stillness of a winter day! The sources of sound are, as it were, frozen up…A transient acquaintance with any phenomenon is not sufficient to make it completely the subject of your muse.


You must be so conversant with it as to remember it, and be reminded of it long afterward, while it lies remotely fair and elysian in the horizon, approachable only by the imagination.

February 12, 2019, photos

February 12, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I find that it is an excellent walk for variety and novelty and wildness to keep round the edge of the meadow. The ice not being strong enough to bear and transparent as water, on the bare ground or snow just between the highest water mark and the present water line is a narrow, meandering walk rich in unexpected views and objects….If you cannot go on the ice, you are then gently compelled to take this course, which is, on the whole, more beautiful, to follow the sinuosities of the meadow.

February 11, 1854



in Thoreau’s Journal:

In the winter we so value the semblance of fruit that even dry, black female catkins of the alder are an interesting sight, not to mention, on shoots rising a foot or two above these, the red or mulberry male catkins in little parcels dangling at a less than right angle with the stems, and the short female ones at their bases.

February 10, 1860


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I do not know of any more exhilarating walking than up or down a broad field of smooth ice like this in a cold, glittering, winter day, when your rubbers give you a firm hold on the ice. 

February 9, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

At 9 A M up river to fair Haven Pond. This is our month of the crusted snow. Was this the Indians? I get over the half buried fences at a stride—and the drifts slope up to the tops of the walls on each side. The crust is melted on the S slopes and lets me in—or where the sun has been reflected (yesterday) from a woodside—& rotted it, but the least inclination to the north is evidence of a hard surface—  On the meadows and in level open fields away from the reflection of pines & oak leaves it will generally bear.