Often when I face a winter in Denver as snow-y as this one has been- and very early on at that !- I think about how Thoreau described winters in Walden and various later writings. I’ve underlined many quotes in his non-fiction book but sometimes just reading his descriptive prose is enough to warm my bones without heat. The following is a small sampling:
…Though winter is represented in the almanac as an old man, facing the wind and sleet, and drawing his cloak about him, we rather think of him as a merry wood-chopper and warm-blooded youth, as blithe as summer. The unexplored grandeur of the storm keeps up the spirits of the traveler. It does not trifle with us but has a sweet earnestness. In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and merry, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends…
…for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
“I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute.”
After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what- how- when- where? But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face and no question on her lips.
…a hundred…men, with overseers…came…every day to get ice. They divided it into cakes…sledded to shore…hauled off to an ice platform…onto a stack…and there placed evenly side by side and row upon row, as if they formed the solid base of an obelisk designed to pierce the clouds. They stacked up the cakes thus in the open air in a pile thirty-five feet high on one side and six or seven rods square, putting hay between the outside layers to exclude the air; for when the wind, though never so cold, finds a passage through, it will wear large cavities, leaving slight supports or studs, only here and there and finally topple it down. At first it looked like a vast blue fort or Valhalla; but when they began to tuck the coarse meadow hay into the crevices and this became covered with rime and icicles, it looked like a venerable moss-grown and hoary ruin, built of azure-tinted marble, the abode of Winter, that old man we see in the almanac- his shanty, as if he had a design to estivate with us.