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were giants or pygmies. I took this course when I went to lecture in
Lincoln in the evening, travelling in no road and passing no house
between my own hut and the lecture room. In Goose Pond, which lay
in my way, a colony of muskrats dwelt, and raised their cabins high
above the ice, though none could be seen abroad when I crossed it.
Walden, being like the rest usually bare of snow, or with only
shallow and interrupted drifts on it, was my yard where I could walk
freely when the snow was nearly two feet deep on a level elsewhere
and the villagers were confined to their streets. There, far from the
village street, and except at very long intervals, from the jingle of
sleigh-bells, I slid and skated, as in a vast moose-yard well trodden,
overhung by oak woods and solemn pines bent down with snow or
bristling with icicles.

For sounds in winter nights, and often in winter days, I heard the
forlorn but melodious note of a hooting owl indefinitely far; such a
sound as the frozen earth would yield if struck with a suitable
plectrum, the very lingua vernacula of Walden Wood, and quite
familiar to me at last, though I never saw the bird while it was
making it. I seldom opened my door in a winter evening without
hearing it; Hoo hoo hoo, hoorer, hoo, sounded sonorously, and the
first three syllables accented somewhat like how der do; or
sometimes hoo, hoo only. One night in the beginning of winter,
before the pond froze over, about nine o’clock, I was startled by the
loud honking of a goose, and, stepping to the door, heard the sound
of their wings like a tempest in the woods as they flew low over my
house. They passed over the pond toward Fair Haven, seemingly
deterred from settling by my light, their commodore honking all the
while with a regular beat. Suddenly an unmistakable cat owl from
very near me, with the most harsh and tremendous voice I ever heard
from any inhabitant of the woods, responded at regular intervals to
the goose, as if determined to expose and disgrace this intruder from
Hudson’s Bay by exhibiting a greater compass and volume of voice
in a native, and boohoo him out of Concord horizon. What do you
mean by alarming the citadel at this time of night consecrated to me?
Do you think I am ever caught napping at such an hour, and that I
have not got lungs and a larynx as well as yourself? Boohoo, boo-
hoo, boo-hoo! It was one of the most thrilling discords I ever heard.
And yet, if you had a discriminating ear, there were in it the
elements of a concord such as these plains never saw nor heard.

I also heard the whooping of the ice in the pond, my great bed-fellow
in that part of Concord, as if it were restless in its bed and would fain
turn over, were troubled with flatulency and had dreams; or I was
waked by the cracking of the ground by the frost, as if some one had
driven a team against my door, and in the morning would find a
crack in the earth a quarter of a mile long and a third of an inch

Sometimes I heard the foxes as they ranged over the snow-crust, in
moonlight nights, in search of a partridge or other game, barking
raggedly and demoniacally like forest dogs, as if laboring with some
anxiety, or seeking expression, struggling for light and to be dogs
outright and run freely in the streets; for if we take the ages into our
account, may there not be a civilization going on among brutes as
well as men? They seemed to me to be rudimental, burrowing men,
still standing on their defence, awaiting their transformation.
Sometimes one came near to my window, attracted by my light,
barked a vulpine curse at me, and then retreated.

Usually the red squirrel (Sciurus Hudsonius) waked me in the dawn,
coursing over the roof and up and down the sides of the house, as if
sent out of the woods for this purpose. In the course of the winter I
threw out half a bushel of ears of sweet corn, which had not got ripe,
on to the snow-crust by my door, and was amused by watching the
motions of the various animals which were baited by it. In the
twilight and the night the rabbits came regularly and made a hearty
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