November 12, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The riverside is skimmed over and presents a wintry aspect, —those great plaits, or folds, as it were, where the crystals have shot, wool-grass frozen in, and the thin white ice where the water has gone down.

Now for a brisk and energetic walk, with a will and a purpose. Have done with sauntering, in the idle sense. You must rush to the assault of winter. Make haste into the outskirts, climb the ramparts of the town, be on the alert and let nothing escape your observation. The army is all van.

The cold alone has brought down a good part of the remaining leaves of abeles and white willows. I see the handsome leaves of the last thickly strewn over the ice and reminding of grain even, half upside down. Pitch pine leaves are about all fallen.

The very common redness of the recent shoots, as white maples, huckleberries, etc., now that the twigs are bare, and on many sides masses of them are run together in a maze, adds to the general russet of nature. The black willow shoots are a very pale brownish yellow.

We are now reduced to browsing on buds and twigs, and methinks, with this diet and this cold, we shall look to the stall-fed thinkers like those unkempt cattle in meadows now, grazing the withered grass.