March 8

1840 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The wind shifts from northeast and east, to north-west and south, and every icicle which has tinkled on the meadow grass so long—trickles down its stem and seeks its water level unerringly with a million comrades. In the ponds the ice cracks with a busy and inspiriting din—and down the larger streams is whirled, grating hoarsely and crashing its way along—which was so lately a firm field for the woodman’s team and the fox—sometimes with the tracks of the skaters still fresh upon it—and the holes cut for pickerel. Town committees inspect the bridges and causeways—as if by mere eye-force to intercede with the ice, and save the treasury.


In the brooks the slight grating sound of small cakes of ice floating with various speed, is full of content and promise, and where the water gurgles under a natural bridge you may hear these hasty rafts hold conversation in an under tone.


Every rill is a channel for the juices of the meadow. Last years grasses and flower stalks have been steeped in rain and snow, and now the brooks flow with meadow tea—thoroughwort mint, flagroot and pennyroyal, all at one draught.

In the ponds the sun makes encroachments around the edges first, as ice melts in a kettle on the fire—darting his rays through this crevice; and preparing the deep water to act simultaneously on the under side.

1859 in Thoreau’s Journal:

To us snow and cold seem a mere delaying of the spring. How far we are from understanding the value of these things in the economy of Nature.