st is rarely found; but in Minnesota, Thoreau found it more abundant than any other bird, far more so than the Robin.
But his most interesting statement, to my fancy, was, that, during a stay of ten weeks on Monadnock, he found that the Snow-Bird built its nest on the top of the mountain, and probably never came down through the season.
That was its Arctic; and it would probably yet be found, he predicted, on Wachusett and other Massachusetts peaks.
It is known that the Snow-Bird, or Snow-Flake, as it is called in England, was reported by Audubon as having only once been proved to build in the United States, namely, among the White Mountains, though Wilson found its nests among the Alleghanies; and in New England it used to be the rural belief that the Snow-Bird and the Chipping-Sparrow were the same.
After July most of our birds grow silent, and, but for the insects, August would be almost the stillest month in the year,—stiller than the winter, when the woods are often vocal w
e, and by the fire Help waste the sullen day. But our prevalent association with winter, in the Northern United States, is with something white and dazzling and brilliant; and it is time to paint our own pictures, and cease to borrow these gloomy alien tints.
One must turn eagerly every season to the few glimpses of American winter aspects: to Emerson's Snow-Storm, every word a sculpture; to the admirable storm in Margaret; to Thoreau's Winter's Walk, in the Dial; and to Lowell's First Snow-Flake.
These are fresh and real pictures, and carry us back to the Greek Anthology, where the herds come wandering down from the wooded mountains, covered with snow; and to Homer's aged Ulysses, his wise words falling like the snows of winter.
Let me add to this scanty gallery of snow-pictures the quaint lore contained in one of the multitudinous sermons of Increase Mather, printed in 1704, entitled A Brief Discourse concerning the Prayse due to God for His Mercy in giving Snow like Wool.