We are getting a real nice slow, heavy snowfall today, covering up the dirty snow that’s been hanging around. I saw a joint stool (22″ high) in the yard the other day, just poking its head out of the snow. Gone again now. Spent a chunk of the morning snow-shoeing, down to the beach at the Bay Farm.
The snow is still pretty deep, that’s a bike rack sticking up beside us here:
I was in the mood that around every corner was a photograph:
I made it out to the beach; the bay was filled with ducks; these are black ducks, but I saw mergansers, long-tailed ducks & who knows what else. Hundreds, I’d say.
Recently, I read the following timely passage from Thoreau’s journal – while the kids had been making tunnels in the snow.
Jan 20, 1857
at Emerson’s this evening, at about 6PM I was called out to see Eddy’s cave in the snow. It was a hole about two and a half feet wide and six feet long, into a drift, a little winding, and he had got a lamp at the inner extremity. I observed, as I approached in a course at right angles with the length of the cave, that the mouth of the cave was lit as if the light were close to it, so that I did not suspect its depth. Indeed, the light of the lamp was remarkably reflected and distributed. The snowy walls were one universal reflector with countless facets. I think that one lamp would light sufficiently a hall built of this material. The snow about the mouth of the cave within had the yellow color of the flame to one approaching, as if the lamp were close to it. We afterward buried the lamp in a little crypt in this snow-drift and walled it in, and found that its light was visible, even in this twilight, through fifteen inches’ thickness of snow. The snow was all aglow with it. If it had been darker, probably it would have been visible through a much greater thickness. But, what was most surprising to me, when Eddy crawled into the extremity of his cave and shouted at the top of his voice, it sounded ridiculously faint, as if he were a quarter of a mile off, but we all of us crawled in by turns, and though our heads were only six feet from those outside, our loudest shouting only amused and surprised them. Apparently the porous snow drank up all the sound. The voice was, in fact, muffled by the surrounding snow walls, and I saw that we might lie in that hole screaming for assistance in vain, while travellers were passing along twenty feet distant. It had the effect of ventrilloquism.So you only need to make a snow house in your yard and pass in hour in it, to realize a good deal of Esquimau life.
Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909) wrote to her father on 22 January 1857 “Mr Thoreau was here night before last and Eddy illuminated his snow cave and called out to us; we couldn’t hear what he said though we were close at the mouth of the cave and Mr Thoreau said ‘Speak louder’ so Eddy spoke again and we could hear some very feeble words. Then Mr Thoreau told him to holla as loud as he could, but we hard only very weak squeaks. Then Mr Thoreau was very surprised, as he said he could hardly believe Eddy was calling loud, and he went in himself and shouted and it sounded as if someone was in trouble over the brook near Mr Stow’s. And Edie went in and peeped and that sounded very feeble. Mr Thoreau thought the snow sucked up the sound. Then he said he should like to see how transparent snow was, and we dug into the snow-drift a hole with one side 4 inches thick and one 14 and about 6 inches from the top, then we put the lamp in and walled it up with a block of snow eight inches thick, through the four inches one could see to read, through fourteen the lamp shone bright and shining like a lantern – a Norwegian would think it was a troll-mount. Mr Thoreau was quite delighted and so we all were with our experiments.”
Last night about 6-7pm the kids & I went down near the river to listen to the hootings of two great horned owls. Timeless fun.