visibly through the valley, and the myriad rocks that check its course are all rounded with fleecy surfaces till they seem like flocks of tranquil sheep that drink the shallow flood.
The day is one of moderate cold, but clear and bracing; the air sparkles like the snow; everything seems dry and resonant, like the wood of a violin.
All sounds are musical,—the voices of children, the cooing of doves, the crowing of cocks, the chopping of wood, the creaking of country sleds, the sweet jangle of sleigh-bells.
The snow has fallen under a cold temperature, and the flakes are perfectly crystallized; every shrub we pass bears wreaths which glitter as gorgeously as the nebula in the constellation Perseus
; but in another hour of sunshine every one of those fragile outlines will disappear, and the white surface glitter no longer with stars, but with star-dust.
On such a day, the universe seems to hold but three pure tints,—blue
, and green
The loveliness of the universe seems simplified to its last extreme of refined delicacy.
That sensation we poor mortals often have, of being just on the edge of infinite beauty, yet with always a lingering film between, never presses down more closely than on days like this.
Everything seems perfectly prepared to satiate the soul with inexpressible felicity, if we could only, by one infinitesimal step farther, reach the mood to dwell in it.
Leaving behind us the sleighs and snow-shovels of the street, we turn noiselessly toward the radiant margin of the sunlit woods.
The yellow willows on the causeway burn like flame against the darker background, and will burn on until they burst into April.
Yonder pines and hemlocks stand motionless and dark against the sky. The statelier trees have already shaken all the snow from their summits, but it still clothes the lower ones with a white covering that looks solid as marble.
Yet see how lightly it escapes!-a slight gust shakes a single tree, there is a Staub-bach
for a moment, and the branches stand free as in summer, a pyramid of green amid the whiteness of the yet imprisoned forest.
Each branch raises itself when emancipated, thus changing the whole outline of the growth; and the snow beneath is punctured with a thousand little depressions, where the petty avalanches have just buried themselves and disappeared.
In crossing this white level we have been tracking our way across an invisible pond, which was alive last week with five hundred skaters.
Now there is a foot of snow upon it, through which there is a boyish excitement in making the first path.
Looking back upon our track, it proves to be like all other human paths, straight in intention, but slightly devious in deed.
We have gay companions on our way; for a breeze overtakes us, and a hundred little simooms of drift whirl along beside us, and whelm in miniature burial whole caravans of dry leaves.
Here, too, our