when the winter ice breaks in walden and in stockholm

I am on the alert for the first signs of spring, to hear the chance note of some arriving bird, or the striped squirrel’s chirp, for his stores must be now nearly exhausted, or see the woodchuck venture out of his winter quarters. On the 13th of March, after I had heard the bluebird, song sparrow, and red-wing, the ice was still nearly a foot thick …

One year I went across the middle only five days before it disappeared entirely. In 1845 Walden was first completely open on the 1st of April; in ’46, the 25th of March; in ’47, the 8th of April; in ’51, the 28th of March; in ’52, the 18th of April; in ’53, the 23d of March; in ’54, about the 7th of April.

Every incident connected with the breaking up of the rivers and ponds and the settling of the weather is particularly interesting to us who live in a climate of so great extremes.

From Walden: A Life in the Woods, by Thoreau

I chose this partially because I still do not trust the spring is really here, though we were all in sweaters at the park yesterday afternoon. But I also chose it because the ice in Walden Pond in Massachusetts broke so much later than the ice does here in Stockholm, at least, even at our small pond.  It shows that the winters, at least back in 1853, can be so much harder in New England than in Scandinavia.

Yet a Boston winter is a summer vacation compared with a Swedish one, even one with little snow.  It drives home how much of our winter pain is about the dark here, and the winter dark is not going away, no matter how warm the climate gets.


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