February 12, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

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.