December 5, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Rather hard walking in the snow— There is a slight mist in the air—& accordingly some glaze on the twigs & leaves—& thus suddenly we have passed from Ind. summer to winter.  The perfect silence, as if the whispering & creaking earth were muffled–– the stillness of the twigs & of the very weeds & withered grasses as if they were sculpted out of marble—are striking. It is as if you had stept from the withered garden into the yard of a sculptor or worker in marble crowded with delicate works—rich & rare. I remark, half a mile off, a tall & slender pitch pine against the dull grey mist—peculiarly monumental. I noticed also several small white oak trees full of leaves by the road—strangely interesting & beautiful. Their stiffened leaves were very long and deeply cut, & the lighter & glazed underside being almost uniformly turned vertically toward the N.W. as a traveller turns his back to the storm—though enough of the redder & warmer sides were seen to contrast with them—it looked like an artificial tree hung with many-fingered gauntlets. — — — — Such was the disposition of the leaves often in the same plane, that it looked like a brown arbor vitae.

See 4 quails running across the turnpike. How they must be affected by this change from warm weather & bare ground to cold & universal snow!

Returning from the P.O. at early candle light, I noticed for the first time this season the peculiar effect of lights in offices & shops seen over the snowy street—suggesting how withdrawn & inward the life in the former—how exposed & outward in the latter.