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.
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.
A sharp cutting air— This is a pretty good winter morning however— Not one of the rarer. There are from time to time mornings—both in summer & winter when especially the world seems to begin anew—beyond which memory need not go—for not behind them is yesterday and our past life—when as in the morning of a hoar frost there are visible the effects of a certain creative energy—the world has visibly been recreated in the night—mornings of creation I call them.
In the midst of these marks of a creative energy recently active—while the sun is rising with more than usual splendor I look back—I look back for the era of this creation not into the night but to a dawn for which no man every rose early enough.
A morning which carries us back beyond the Mosaic creation—where crystallizations are fresh & unmelted. It is the poet’s hour. Mornings when men are new born—men who have the seeds of life in them. It should be part of my religion to abroad then. This is not one of those mornings—but a clear cold airy winter day.
It is surprising how much room there is in nature, —if man will follow his proper path…
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.
What evidence is there of spring? This light & warm sun–which compels us to throw our outside coats open wide–or take them off–even to seek the shade for coolness– — This rapidly melting snow & these sparkling currents by the roadside– this softened ice–but above all the warble of a single blue-bird that came to us out of the softened air.
We have to go into retirement religiously, and enhance our meetings by rarity and a degree of unfamiliarity. Would you know why I see thee so seldom my friend? In solitude I have been making up a packet for thee.
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….
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.
Considering the melon-rind arrangement of the clouds, by an ocular illusion the bars appearing to approach each other in the east and west horizons, I am prompted to ask whether the melons will not be found to lie in this direction oftenest.
I had not been out long to-day when it seemed that a new Spring was already born—not quite weaned it is true, but verily entered upon existence. Nature struck up “the same old song in the grass”, despite eighteen inches of snow, and I contrived to smuggle away a grin of satisfaction by a smothered—“pshaw—and is that all?”
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.
It is a moist & starry snow–lodging on trees–leaf bough & trunk. The pines are well laden with it. How handsome, though wintry the side of a high pine wood–well greyed with the snow that has lodged on it– & the smaller pitch pines converted into marble or alabaster–with their lowered plumes–like rams-heads’ drawings.
The character of the wood paths is wholly changed by the new fallen snow–- not only all tracks are concealed–but the pines drooping over it–& half concealing or filling it, it is merely a long chink or winding open space between the trees–
Never is there so much light in the air as in one of these bright winter afternoons, when all the earth is covered with new-fallen snow and there is not a cloud in the sky. The sky is much the darkest side, like the bluish lining of an egg-shell. There seems nothing left to make night out of. With this white earth beneath and that spot[less] skimmed-milk sky above him, man is but a black speck inclosed in a white egg-shell.
Sometimes in our prosaic moods, life appears to us but a certain number more of days like those which we have lived, to be cheered not by more friends and friendship but probably fewer and less. As, perchance, we anticipate the end of this day before it is done, close the shutters, and with a cheerless resignation commence the barren evening whose fruitless end we clearly see, we despondingly think that all of life that is left is only this experience repeated a certain number of times. And so it would be, if it were not for the faculty of imagination.
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, – a narrow, meandering walk, rich in unexpected views and objects. The line of rubbish which marks the higher tides – withered flags and reeds and twigs and cranberries – is to my eyes a very agreeable and significant line, which Nature traces along the edge of the meadows. It is a strongly marked, enduring natural line, which in summer reminds me that the water has once stood over where I walk. Sometimes the grooved trees tell the same tale. The wrecks of the meadow, which fill a thousand coves, and tell a thousand tales to those who can read them. Our prairial, mediterranean shore. The gentle rise of water around the trees in the meadow, where oaks and maples stand far out in the sea, and young elms sometimes are seen standing close around some rock which lifts its head above the water, as if protecting it, preventing it from being washed away, though in truth they owe their origin and preservation to it. It first invited and detained their seeds, and now preserves the soil in which they grow. A pleasant reminiscence of the rise of water, to go up one side of the river and down the other, following this way, which meanders so much more than the river itself. 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. Between the highest water mark and the present water line is a space generally from a few feet to a few rods in width. When the water comes over the road, then my spirits rise, – when the fences are carried away. A prairial walk. Saw a caterpillar crawling about on the snow.
It is easier to get about the country than at any other season— Easier than in summer because the rivers & meadows are frozen—& there is no high grass or other crops to be avoided—easier than in Dec. before the crust was frozen.