——Excerpt of Walden, or Life in the Woods
Henry David Thoreau
The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope than ever! The faint silvery 1)warblings heard over the partially bare and moist fields from the 2)bluebird, the 3)song sparrow, and the 4)redwing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell! What at such a time are histories, chronologies, traditions, and all written revelations? The brooks sing carols and glees to the spring. The 5)marsh hawk, sailing low over the meadow, is already seeking the first slimy life that awakes. The sinking sound of melting snow is heard in all 6)dells, and the ice dissolves apace in the ponds. The grass flames up on the hillsides like a spring fire, as if the earth sent forth an inward heat to greet the returning sun; not yellow but green is the color of its flame—the symbol of perpetual youth, the grass-blade, like a long green ribbon, streams from the sod into the summer, checked indeed by the frost, but 7)anon pushing on again, lifting its spear of last year’s hay with the fresh life below. It grows as steadily as the rill oozes out of the ground. It is almost identical with that, for in the growing days of June, when the rills are dry, the grass-blades are their channels, and from year to year the herds drink at this 8)perennial green stream, and the mower draws from it 9)betimes their winter supply. So our human life but dies down to its root, and still puts forth its green blade to eternity.
As every season seems best to us in its turn, so the coming in of spring is like the creation of Cosmos out of Chaos and the realization of the Golden Age.
——Excerpt of Glories of the Storm
Nancy M. Peterson
The first drops of rain are huge. They splat into the dust and imprint the windows with the individual signatures. They plink on the 10)vent pipe and plunk on the 11)patio roof. Leaves shudder under their weight before rebounding, and the sidewalk wears a coat of shiny spots.
The rhythm accelerates; plink follows plunk faster and faster until the sound is a roll of drums and the individual drops become an army marching over fields and rooftops. Now the first bolt of lightning stabs the earth. It is heaven’s exclamation point. The storm is here!
The rain now becomes a 12)torrent, flung 13)capriciously by a rising wind. Together they batter the trees and level the grasses. Water streams off roofs and out of rain spouts. It pounds against the window in such a steady wash that I am sightless. There is only water. How can so much fall so fast? How could the clouds have supported this vast weight? How can the earth endure beneath it?
Pacing through the house from window to window, I am moved to open-mouthed wonder. Look how the 14)lilac bends under the assault, how the 15)day lilies are flattened, how the hillside steps are a new-made waterfall! Now 16)hailstones thump upon the roof. They pounce white against the grass and splash into the puddles. I think of the vegetable garden, the fruit trees, the crops in the fields; but, thankfully, the hailstones are not enough in numbers or size to do real damage. Not this time.
Autumn is easily my favorite time of the year. The days have cooled down, the leaves have turned yellow, and the world is busy preparing herself for winter. There’s something magical about the clear 17)brisk days, the first smell of the wood stove or the fireplace, the first frost, the canning of the late fruits and vegetables, the pumpkin and 18)cider stands on the roadways.
There is a harmony in autumn, and a 19)luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen. Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils. School has started, and there’s newness in the air. Even though the season is the 20)precursor to winter, somehow, the world knows that winter is necessary, and the long preparation for the cold of winter—the preparation that is autumn—is a beautiful, necessary part of the world.
Autumn truly is what summer pretends to be: the best of all seasons. It is as glorious as summer is tedious; as subtle as summer is obvious; as refreshing as summer is wearying. Autumn seems like paradise.
——Excerpt of a Winter Walk
Henry David Thoreau
We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the windowsill; the broadened 21)sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the 22)snug cheer within. The stillness of the morning is impressive. The floor creaks under our feet as we move toward the window to look abroad through some clear space over the fields. We see the roofs stand under their snow burden. From the eaves and fences hang 23)stalactites of snow, and in the yard stand 24)stalagmites covering some concealed core. The trees and shrubs rear white arms to the sky on every side; and where were walls and fences, we see fantastic forms stretching in 25)frolic gambols across the dusky landscape, as if Nature had strewn her fresh designs over the fields by night as models for man’s art.
Though winter is represented in the 26)almanac as an old man, facing the wind and 27)sleet, and drawing his cloak about him, we rather think of him as a merry woodchopper, and warm-blooded youth, as 28)blithe as summer. In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends. The imprisoning drifts increase the sense of comfort which the house affords, and in the coldest days we are content to sit over the 29)hearth and see the sky through the chimney-top, enjoying the quiet and serene life that may be had in a warm corner by the chimney-side, or feeling our pulse by listening to the low of cattle in the street, or the sound of the 30)flail in distant barns all the long afternoon. We enjoy now, not an Oriental, but a 31)Boreal leisure, around warm stoves and fireplaces, and watch the shadow of 32)motes in the sunbeams.