Out of the Past

Thoreau

December 6






Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
American Writer

Ice on the Oise River - by Gustave Loiseau
 Ice on the Oise River

 by Gustave Loiseau

Otter tracks
Otter tracks 
Wild Rabbit
Wild rabbit
Wild Fruits
Wild Fruits
Thoreau's Rediscovered Last Manuscript

Citizen Thoreau
Citizen Thoreau
Walden, Civil Disobedience, Life Without Principle, Slavery in Massachusetts, A Plea for Captain John Brown

Walden & Civil Disobedience
Walden & Civil Disobedience

"Wild Apples" and Other Natural History Essays
"Wild Apples"
and Other Natural History Essays

Walden
Walden

Thumbing Through Thoreau
Thumbing Through Thoreau
A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau

Walden
Walden
Kindle Edition


Walden, or Life in the Woods Poster
Walden, or Life in the Woods

Poster


Kindle
Kindle
6" Display, U.S. & International Wireless



         

Saturday. To Hubbard's Bridge and Holden Swamp and up river on ice to F. Pond Crossing, just below pond; back on east side of river .

Skating is fairly begun. The river is generally frozen over, though it will bear quite across in very few places. Much of the ice in the middle is dark and thin, having been formed last night, and when you stamp you see the water trembling in spots here and there.

I can walk through the spruce swamp now dry-shod, amid the water andromeda and Kalmia glauca. I feel an affection for the rich brown fruit of the panicled andromeda growing about the swamp, hard, dry, inedible, suitable to the season. The dense panicles of the berries are of a handsome form, made to endure, lasting often over two seasons, only becoming darker and gray.

How handsome every one of these leaves that are blown about the snow-crust or lie neglected beneath, soon to turn to mould! Not merely a matted mass of fibres like a sheet of paper, but a perfect organism and system in itself, so that no mortal has ever yet discerned or explored its beauty.


Just this side of Bittern Cliff, I see a very remarkable track of an otter, made undoubtedly December 3rd, when this snow ice was mere slosh. It had come up through a hole (now black ice) by the stem of a button-bush, and, apparently, pushed its way through the slosh, as through snow on land, leaving a track eight inches wide, more or less, with the now frozen snow shoved up two inches high on each side. Where the ice was firmer are seen only the tracks of its feet. It had crossed the open middle (now thin black ice) and continued its singular trail to the opposite shore, as if a narrow sled had been drawn bottom upward.

At Bittern Cliff I saw where they had been playing, sliding, or fishing, apparently to-day, on the snow-covered rocks, on which, for a rod upward and as much in width, the snow was trodden and worn quite smooth, as if twenty had trodden and slid there for several hours. Their droppings are a mass of fishes' scales and bones - loose, scaly black masses.




I see also what I take to be rabbit's tracks made in that slosh, shaped like a horse's track, only rather longer and larger. They had set out to cross the river, but, coming to open water, turned back.

When I speak of the otter to our oldest village doctor, who should be ex officio our naturalist, he is greatly surprised, not knowing that such an animal is found in these parts, and I have to remind him that the Pilgrims sent home many otter skins in the first vessels that returned, together with beaver, mink, and black fox skins, and 1156 pounds of otter skins in the years 1631-36, which brought fourteen or fifteen shillings a pound, also 12,530 pounds of beaver skin. 

1856

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