The ice is melting at Walden Pond (Walden 187)

While we’re still in winter 2015, we begin the chapter “Spring” in Walden and all but a thin slice of pages of the book are behind us. This is the last chapter before “Conclusion.” Thoreau begins with a long description of the ice melting from the pond. Here is just a bit:

“In spring the sun not only exerts an influence through the increased temperature of the air and earth, but its heat passes through ice a foot or more thick, and is reflected from the bottom in shallow water, and so also warms the water and melts the under side of the ice, at the same time that it is melting it more directly above, making it uneven, and causing the air bubbles which it contains to extend themselves upward and downward until it is completely honeycombed, and at last disappears suddenly in a single spring rain. Ice has its grain as well as wood, and when a cake begins to rot or ‘comb,’ that is, assume the appearance of honeycomb, whatever may be its position, the air cells are at right angles with what was the water surface.”

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: Have you noticed how most of the things Thoreau describes in detail are things you wouldn’t see if you went to the pond for only a short visit? What he describes requires prolonged, close observation, the insights you earn from living with a landscape for an extended period of time, in this case through the changing seasons. This, too, is part of the book’s message.

(About  “A Year in Walden”)

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