Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ



<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->
PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


of an inch, though the ice appeared firmly attached to the shore. It
was probably greater in the middle. Who knows but if our
instruments were delicate enough we might detect an undulation in
the crust of the earth? When two legs of my level were on the shore
and the third on the ice, and the sights were directed over the latter, a
rise or fall of the ice of an almost infinitesimal amount made a
difference of several feet on a tree across the pond. When I began to
cut holes for sounding there were three or four inches of water on the
ice under a deep snow which had sunk it thus far; but the water
began immediately to run into these holes, and continued to run for
two days in deep streams, which wore away the ice on every side,
and contributed essentially, if not mainly, to dry the surface of the
pond; for, as the water ran in, it raised and floated the ice. This was
somewhat like cutting a hole in the bottom of a ship to let the water
out. When such holes freeze, and a rain succeeds, and finally a new
freezing forms a fresh smooth ice over all, it is beautifully mottled
internally by dark figures, shaped somewhat like a spiderís web,
what you may call ice rosettes, produced by the channels worn by
the water flowing from all sides to a centre. Sometimes, also, when
the ice was covered with shallow puddles, I saw a double shadow of
myself, one standing on the head of the other, one on the ice, the
other on the trees or hillside.

While yet it is cold January, and snow and ice are thick and solid, the
prudent landlord comes from the village to get ice to cool his
summer drink; impressively, even pathetically, wise, to foresee the
heat and thirst of July now in January-wearing a thick coat and
mittens! when so many things are not provided for. It may be that he
lays up no treasures in this world which will cool his summer drink
in the next. He cuts and saws the solid pond, unroofs the house of
fishes, and carts off their very element and air, held fast by chains
and stakes like corded wood, through the favoring winter air, to
wintry cellars, to underlie the summer there. It looks like solidified
azure, as, far off, it is drawn through the streets. These ice-cutters are
a merry race, full of jest and sport, and when I went among them
they were wont to invite me to saw pit-fashion with them, I standing
under-neath.

In the winter of Ď46-7 there came a hundred men of Hyperborean
extraction swoop down on to our pond one morning, with many
carloads of ungainly-looking farming tools-sleds, plows, drill-
barrows, turf-knives, spades, saws, rakes, and each man was armed
with a double-pointed pike-staff, such as is not described in the
New-England Farmer or the Cultivator. I did not know whether they
had come to sow a crop of winter rye, or some other kind of grain
recently introduced from Iceland. As I saw no manure, I judged that
they meant to skim the land, as I had done, thinking the soil was
deep and had lain fallow long enough. They said that a gentleman
farmer, who was behind the scenes, wanted to double his money,
which, as I understood, amounted to half a million already; but in
order to cover each one of his dollars with another, he took off the
only coat, ay, the skin itself, of Walden Pond in the midst of a hard
winter. They went to work at once, plowing, barrowing, rolling,
furrowing, in admirable order, as if they were bent on making this a
model farm; but when I was looking sharp to see what kind of seed
they dropped into the furrow, a gang of fellows by my side suddenly
began to book up the virgin mould itself, with a peculiar jerk, clean
down to the sand, or rather the water-for it was a very springy soil-
indeed all the terra firma there was-and haul it away on sleds, and
then I guessed that they must be cutting peat in a bog. So they came
and went every day, with a peculiar shriek from the locomotive,
from and to some point of the polar regions, as it seemed to me, like
a flock of arctic snow-birds. But sometimes Squaw Walden had her
revenge, and a hired man, walking behind his team, slipped through
a crack in the ground down toward Tartarus, and he who was so
brave before suddenly became but the ninth part of a man, almost
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->
PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page


Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com