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Our Wood Lot In Winter
by [?]

Our wood lot! Yes, we have arrived at the dignity of owning a wood lot, and for us simple folk there is something invigorating in the thought. To OWN even a small spot of our dear old mother earth hath in it a relish of something stimulating to human nature. To own a meadow, with all its thousand-fold fringes of grasses, its broidery of monthly flowers, and its outriders of birds, and bees, and gold-winged insects–this is something that establishes one’s heart. To own a clover patch or a buckwheat field is like possessing a self-moving manufactory for perfumes and sweetness; but a wood lot, rustling with dignified old trees–it makes a man rise in his own esteem; he might take off his hat to himself at the moment of acquisition.

We do not marvel that the land-acquiring passion becomes a mania among our farmers, and particularly we do not wonder at a passion for wood land. That wide, deep chasm of conscious self-poverty and emptiness which lies at the bottom of every human heart, making men crave property as something to add to one’s own bareness, and to ballast one’s own specific levity, is sooner filled by land than any thing else.

Your hoary New England farmer walks over his acres with a grim satisfaction. He sets his foot down with a hard stamp; here is reality. No moonshine bank stock! no swindling railroads! Here is his bank, and there is no defaulter here. All is true, solid, and satisfactory; he seems anchored to this life by it. So Pope, with fine tact, makes the old miser, making his will on his death bed, after parting with every thing, die, clinging to the possession of his land. He disposes with many a groan of this and that house, and this and that stock and security; but at last the manor is proposed to him.

“The manor! hold!” he cried,
“Not that; I cannot part with that. “–and died!

In such terms we discoursed yesterday, Herr Professor and myself, while jogging along in an old-fashioned chaise to inspect a few acres of wood lot, the acquisition of which had let us, with great freshness, into these reflections.

Does any fair lady shiver at the idea of a drive to the woods on the first of February? Let me assure her that in the coldest season Nature never wants her ornaments full worth looking at.

See here, for instance–let us stop the old chaise, and get out a minute to look at this brook–one of our last summer’s pets. What is he doing this winter? Let us at least say, “How do you do?” to him. Ah, here he is! and he and Jack Frost together have been turning the little gap in the old stone wall, through which he leaped down to the road, into a little grotto of Antiparos. Some old rough rails and boards that dropped over it are sheathed in plates of transparent silver. The trunks of the black alders are mailed with crystal; and the witch-hazel, and yellow osiers fringing its sedgy borders, are likewise shining through their glossy covering. Around every stem that rises from the water is a glittering ring of ice. The tags of the alder and the red berries of last summer’s wild roses glitter now like a lady’s pendant. As for the brook, he is wide awake and joyful; and where the roof of sheet ice breaks away, you can see his yellow-brown waters rattling and gurgling among the stones as briskly as they did last July. Down he springs! over the glossy-coated stone wall, throwing new sparkles into the fairy grotto around him; and widening daily from melting snows, and such other godsends, he goes chattering off under yonder mossy stone bridge, and we lose sight of him. It might be fancy, but it seemed that our watery friend tipped us a cheery wink as he passed, saying, “Fine weather, sir and madam; nice times these; and in April you’ll find us all right; the flowers are making up their finery for the next season; there’s to be a splendid display in a month or two.”