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you explore this mine, and follow the marrowy store, yellow as beef
tallow, or as if you had struck on a vein of gold, deep into the earth.
But commonly I kindled my fire with the dry leaves of the forest,
which I had stored up in my shed before the snow came. Green
hickory finely split makes the woodchopper’s kindlings, when he has
a camp in the woods. Once in a while I got a little of this. When the
villagers were lighting their fires beyond the horizon, I too gave
notice to the various wild inhabitants of Walden vale, by a smoky
streamer from my chimney, that I was awake.

Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird, Melting thy pinions in thy
upward flight, Lark without song, and messenger of dawn, Circling
above the hamlets as thy nest;

Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form Of midnight vision,
gathering up thy skirts; By night star-veiling, and by day Darkening
the light and blotting out the sun; Go thou my incense upward from
this hearth, And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

Hard green wood just cut, though I used but little of that, answered
my purpose better than any other. I sometimes left a good fire when I
went to take a walk in a winter afternoon; and when I returned, three
or four hours afterward, it would be still alive and glowing. My
house was not empty though I was gone. It was as if I had left a
cheerful housekeeper behind. It was I and Fire that lived there; and
commonly my housekeeper proved trustworthy. One day, however,
as I was splitting wood, I thought that I would just look in at the
window and see if the house was not on fire; it was the only time I
remember to have been particularly anxious on this score; so I
looked and saw that a spark had caught my bed, and I went in and
extinguished it when it had burned a place as big as my hand. But
my house occupied so sunny and sheltered a position, and its roof
was so low, that I could afford to let the fire go out in the middle of
almost any winter day.

The moles nested in my cellar, nibbling every third potato, and
making a snug bed even there of some hair left after plastering and
of brown paper; for even the wildest animals love comfort and
warmth as well as man, and they survive the winter only because
they are so careful to secure them. Some of my friends spoke as if I
was coming to the woods on purpose to freeze myself. The animal
merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body, in a sheltered
place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a
spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing himself,
makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more
cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of
winter, and by means of windows even admit the light, and with a
lamp lengthen out the day. Thus he goes a step or two beyond
instinct, and saves a little time for the fine arts. Though, when I had
been exposed to the rudest blasts a long time,

my whole body began to grow torpid, when I reached the genial
atmosphere of my house I soon recovered my faculties and
prolonged my life. But the most luxuriously housed has little to boast
of in this respect, nor need we trouble ourselves to speculate how the
human race may be at last destroyed. It would be easy to cut their
threads any time with a little sharper blast from the north. We go on
dating from Cold Fridays and Great Snows; but a little colder Friday,
or greater snow would put a period to man’s existence on the globe.

The next winter I used a small cooking-stove for economy, since I
did not own the forest; but it did not keep fire so well as the open
fireplace. Cooking was then, for the most part, no longer a poetic,
but merely a chemic process. It will soon be forgotten, in these days
of stoves, that we used to roast potatoes in the ashes, after the Indian
fashion. The stove not only took up room and scented the house, but
it concealed the fire, and I felt as if I had lost a companion. You can
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