Henry David Thoreau
Goldfinch ,1842 color lithograph
The Journal of Henry David Thoreau: 1837-1861
and Other Natural History Essays
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod
Searching for Thoreau
On the Trails and Shores of Wild New England
A fine, calm, frosty morning, a resonant and clear air except a slight white vapor which escaped being frozen or perchance is the steam of the melting frost. Bracing cold, and exhilarating sunlight on russet and frosty fields. I wear mittens now.
Apples are frozen on the trees and rattle like stones in my pocket.
To Fair haven Pond by boat. The morning is so calm and pleasant, winter-like, that I rnust spend the forenoon abroad.
The river is smooth as polished silver. A little ice has formed along the shore in shallow bays five or six rods wide. It is for the most part of crystals imperfectly united, shaped like birds' tracks, and breaks with a pleasant crisp sound when it feels the undulations produced by my boat. I hear a linaria-like mew from some birds that fly over. Some muskrat-houses have received a slight addition in the night. The one I opened day before yesterday has been covered again, though not yet raised so high as before.
The hips of the late rose still show abundantly along the shore, and in one place nightshade berries. I hear a faint cricket (or locust?) still, even after the slight snow. I hear the cawing of crows toward the distant wood through the clear, echoing, resonant air, and the lowing of cattle.
It is rare that the water is smooth in the forenoon. It is now as smooth as in a summer evening or a September or October afternoon.
I have noticed no turtles since October 31st, and no frogs for a still longer time. At the bathing-place I looked for clams, in summer almost as thick as paving-stones there, and found none. They have probably removed into deeper water and into the mud. When did they move?
The wind has risen and sky overcast. I stop at Lee's Cliff, and there is a Veronica serpyllifolia out. Sail back. Scared up two small clucks, perhaps teal. I had not seen any of late. They have probably almost all gone south.
November 11, 1853
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