December 11, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Beauty and music are not mere traits and exceptions. They are the rule and character. It is the exception that we see and hear. Then I try to discover what it was in the vision that charmed and translated me. What if we could daguerreotype our thoughts and feelings! for I am surprised and enchanted often by some quality which I cannot detect. I have seen an attribute of another world and condition of things. It is a wonderful fact that I should be affected, and thus deeply and powerfully, more than by aught else in my experience — that this fruit should be borne in me, sprung from a seed finer than the spores of fungi, floated from other atmospheres! finer than the dust caught in the sails of vessels a thousand miles from land! Here the invisible seeds settle, and spring, and bear flowers and fruits of immortal beauty.

December 9, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A bewitching stillness reigns through all the woodland, and over all the snow-clad landscape.

Indeed, the winter day in the woods or fields has commonly the stillness of twilight.

The pond is perfectly smooth and full of light.

December 8, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

7 A. M. – How can we spare to be abroad in the morning red, to see the forms of the leafless eastern trees against the dun sky and hear the cocks crow, when a thin low mist hangs over the ice and frost in meadows?

December 7, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a fair, sunny, and warm day in the woods for the season. We eat our dinners on the middle of the line, amid the young oaks in a sheltered and very unfrequented place. I cut some leafy shrub oaks and cast them down for a dry and springy seat. As I sit there amid the sweet-fern, talking with my man Briney, I observe the recent shoots of the sweet-fern —which, like many larger uses and trees, have a few leaves in a tuft still at their extremities —toward the sun are densely covered with a bright, warm, silvery down, which looks like frost, so thick and white. Looking the other way, I see none of it, but the bare reddish twigs. Even this is a cheering and compensating discovery in my otherwise barren work. I get thus a few positive values, answering to the bread and cheese which make my dinner. I owe thus to my weeks at surveying a few such slight but positive discoveries…

I would rather sit at this table with the sweet-fern twigs between me and the sun than at the king’s.

December 6, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Go out at 9 AM to see the glaze. It is already half fallen, melting off. The dripping trees and wet falling ice will wet you through like rain in the woods. It is a lively sound, a busy tinkling, the incessant brattling and from time to time rushing, crashing sound of this falling ice, and trees suddenly erecting themselves when relieved of their loads. It is now perfect only on the north sides of woods which the sun has not touched or affected. Looking at a dripping tree between you and the sun, you may see here or there one or another rainbow color, a small brilliant point of light.


December 5, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Many living leaves are very dark red now the only effect of the frost on them—the checker-berry—andromeda—low cedar and more or less lambkill—&c.

Saw & heard a downy woodpecker on an apple tree—have not many winter birds, like this & the chickadee, a sharp note like tinkling glass or icicles  —  The chip of the tree-sparrow also & whistle of the shrike is not wintry in the same way?—& The sonorous hooting owl—  But not so the jay & E. linaria —& still less the crow.  Now for the short days & early twilight—in which I hear the sound of wood chopping.  

December 4, 1853

December 4, 1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The coldest day yet, clear with considerable wind, after the first cloudless morning for a week or two. Goose Pond apparently froze over last night, all but a few rods, but not thick enough to bear. I see a lizard on the bottom under the ice. No doubt I have sometimes mistaken them for tadpoles. (Flint’s Pond only skimmed a little at the shore, like the river.)

The ice of Goose Pond already has a dusty look. It shows the crystals distinctly.

December 3, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Look at the trees bare or rustling with sere brown leaves—except the evergreens—their buds dormant at the foot of the leaf-stalks. Look at the fields russet & withered—& the various sedges & weeds with dry bleached culms— Such is our relation to nature at the present, —such plants are we. We have no more sap—nor verdure—nor color now—

….but even in winter we maintain a temperate cheer—& a serene inward life—not destitute of warmth & melody—  Only the cold evergreens wear the aspect of summer now and shelter the winter birds.

December 2, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Returning, the water is smoother and more beautiful than before. The ripples we make produce ribbed reflections or shadows….all the water behind us, as we row, and even on the right and left at a distance, is perfectly unruffled…The reflections after sunset were distinct and glorious, the heaven into which we unceasingly rowed.