Approaching carefully the little pool south of Hubbard’s Grove, I see the dimples where the croakers which were on the surface have dived, and I see two or three still spread out on the surface, in the sun. They are very wary, and instantly dive to the bottom on your approach and bury themselves in the weeds or mud. The water is quite smooth, and it is very warm here, just under the edge of the wood, but I do not hear any croaking. Later, in a pool behind Lee’s Cliff, I hear them,– the waking up of the leafy pools. The last was a pool amid the blueberry and huckleberry and a few little pines. I do not remember that I ever hear this frog in the river or ponds. They seem to be an early frog, peculiar to pools and small ponds in the woods and fields.
Cross through the woods to my boat under Fair Haven hill. How empty and silent the woods now, before leaves have-put forth or thrushes and warblers are come! Deserted halls, floored with dry leaves, where scarcely an insect stirs as yet.
Men talk to me about society as if I had none and they had some, as if it were only to be got by going to the sociable or to Boston.
Compliments and flattery oftenest excite my contempt by the pretension they imply, for who is he that assumes to flatter me? To compliment often implies an assumption of superiority in the complimenter. It is, in fact, a subtle detraction.
I am sometimes affected by the consideration that a man may spend the whole of his life after boyhood in accomplishing a particular design; as if he, were put to a special and petty use, without taking time to look around him and appreciate the phenomenon of his existence. If so many purposes are thus necessarily left unaccomplished, perhaps unthought of, we are reminded of the transient interest we have in this life. Our interest in our country, in the spread of liberty, etc., strong and, as it were, innate as it is, cannot be as transient as our present existence here. It cannot be that all those patriots who die in the midst of their career have no further connection with the career of their country.
Still cold and blustering. The ditches where I have seen salamanders last year before this are still frozen up. Was it not a sucker I saw dart along the brook beyond Jenny’s? I see where the squirrels have fed extensively on the acorns now exposed on the melting of the snow. The ground is strewn with the freshly torn shells and nibbled meat in some places.
To learn to be without desire
you must desire that.
Better to do as you please:
Floating clouds, and water running…
where’s their source?
In all the vastness of the sea and sky,
You’ll never find it.
The telegraph harp sounds more commonly, now that westerly winds prevail. The winds of winter are too boisterous, too violent or rude, and do not strike it at the right angle when I walk, so that it becomes one of the spring sounds .
Still very cold. The most splendid show of ice chandeliers, casters, hour-glasses that I ever saw or imagined about the piers of the bridges, surpassing any crystal, so large. Rather like the bases of columns,
— terraced pedestals, that is it,- the prototypes of the ornaments of the copings and capitals. Perfect and regular, sharp, cone-shaped drops hang from the first figure a few inches above the water. I should have described it then. It would have filled many pages. Scared up my flock of black ducks and counted forty together. See crows along the water’s edge. What do they eat Saw a small black duck with glass, — a dipper (?). Fair Haven still covered and frozen anew in part. Shores of meadow strewn with cranberries. The now silvery willow catkins (notwithstanding the severe cold) shine along the shore, over the cold water, and C. thinks some willow osiers decidedly more yellow.
It is a genial and reassuring day; the mere warmth of the west wind amounts almost to balminess. The softness of the air mollifies our own dry and congealed substance. I sit clown by a wall to see if I can muse again. I’ve become, as it were, pliant and ductile again to strange brit memorable influences; we are led a little way by our genius. We are affected like the earth, and yield to the elemental tenderness; winter breaks up within us; the frost is coming out of me, and I am heaved like the road; accumulated masses of ice and snow dissolve, and thoughts like a freshet pour down unwonted channels. A strain of music comes to solace the traveller over earth’s downs and dignify his chagrins, the petty men whom he meets are the shadows of grander to come. Roads lead else whither than to Carlisle and Sudbury. The earth is uninhabited but fair to inhabit, like the old Carlisle road. Is then the road so rough that it should be neglected? Not only narrow but rough is the way that leadeth to life everlasting. Our experience does not wear upon us. It is seen to be fabulous or symbolical, and the future is worth expecting. Encouraged, I set out once more to climb the mountain of the earth, for my steps are symbolical steps, and in all my walking I have not reached the top of the earth yet.