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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


stormy weather they are sometimes of a dark slate-color. The sea,
however, is said to be blue one day and green another without any
perceptible change in the atmosphere. I have seen our river, when,
the landscape being covered with snow, both water and ice were
almost as green as grass. Some consider blue "to be the color of pure
water, whether liquid or solid." But, looking directly down into our
waters from a boat, they are seen to be of very different colors.
Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same
point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes
of the color of both. Viewed from a hilltop it reflects the color of the
sky; but near at hand it is of a yellowish tint next the shore where
you can see the sand, then a light green, which gradually deepens to
a uniform dark green in the body of the pond. In some lights, viewed
even from a hilltop, it is of a vivid green next the shore. Some have
referred this to the reflection of the verdure; but it is equally green
there against the railroad sandbank, and in the spring, before the
leaves are expanded, and it may be simply the result of the
prevailing blue mixed with the yellow of the sand. Such is the color
of its iris. This is that portion, also, where in the spring, the ice being
warmed by the heat of the sun reflected from the bottom, and also
transmitted through the earth, melts first and forms a narrow canal
about the still frozen middle. Like the rest of our waters, when much
agitated, in clear weather, so that the surface of the waves may
reflect the sky at the right angle, or because there is more light mixed
with it, it appears at a little distance of a darker blue than the sky
itself; and at such a time, being on its surface, and looking with
divided vision, so as to see the reflection, I have discerned a
matchless and indescribable light blue, such as watered or
changeable silks and sword blades suggest, more cerulean than the
sky itself, alternating with the original dark green on the opposite
sides of the waves, which last appeared but muddy in comparison. It
is a vitreous greenish blue, as I remember it, like those patches of the
winter sky seen through cloud vistas in the west before sundown.
Yet a single glass of its water held up to the light is as colorless as an
equal quantity of air. It is well known that a large plate of glass will
have a green tint, owing, as the makers say, to its "body," but a small
piece of the same will be colorless. How large a body of Walden
water would be required to reflect a green tint I have never proved.
The water of our river is black or a very dark brown to one looking
directly down on it, and, like that of most ponds, imparts to the body
of one bathing in it a yellowish tinge; but this water is of such
crystalline purity that the body of the

bather appears of an alabaster whiteness, still more unnatural, which,
as the limbs are magnified and distorted withal, produces a
monstrous effect, making fit studies for a Michael Angelo.

The water is so transparent that the bottom can easily be discerned at
the depth of twenty-five or thirty feet. Paddling over it, you may see,
many feet beneath the surface, the schools of perch and shiners,
perhaps only an inch long, yet the former easily distinguished by
their transverse bars, and you think that they must be ascetic fish that
find a subsistence there. Once, in the winter, many years ago, when I
had been cutting holes through the ice in order to catch pickerel, as I
stepped ashore I tossed my axe back on to the ice, but, as if some
evil genius had directed it, it slid four or five rods directly into one
of the holes, where the water was twenty-five feet deep. Out of
curiosity, I lay down on the ice and looked through the hole, until I
saw the axe a little on one side, standing on its head, with its helve
erect and gently swaying to and fro with the pulse of the pond; and
there it might have stood erect and swaying till in the course of time
the handle rotted off, if I had not disturbed it. Making another hole
directly over it with an ice chisel which I had, and cutting down the
longest birch which I could find in the neighborhood with my knife,
I made a slip-noose, which I attached to its end, and, letting it down
carefully, passed it over the knob of the handle, and drew it by a line
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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