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瓦尔登湖:The Pond in Winter5

2006-07-29 18:58

  While I was surveying, the ice, which was sixteen inches thick,undulated under a slight wind like water. It is well known that a level cannot be used on ice. At one rod from the shore its greatest fluctuation, when observed by means of a level on land directed toward a graduated staff on the ice, was three quarters of an inch,though the ice appeared firmly attached to the shore. It was probably greater in the middle. Who knows but if our instruments were delicate enough we might detect an undulation in the crust of the earth? When two legs of my level were on the shore and the third on the ice, and the sights were directed over the latter, a rise or fall of the ice of an almost infinitesimal amount made a difference of several feet on a tree across the pond. When I began to cut holes for sounding there were three or four inches of water on the ice under a deep snow which had sunk it thus far; but the water began immediately to run into these holes, and continued to run for two days in deep streams, which wore away the ice on every side, and contributed essentially, if not mainly, to dry the surface of the pond; for, as the water ran in, it raised and floated the ice. This was somewhat like cutting a hole in the bottom of a ship to let the water out. When such holes freeze, and a rain succeeds,and finally a new freezing forms a fresh smooth ice over all, it is beautifully mottled internally by dark figures, shaped somewhat like a spider's web, what you may call ice rosettes, produced by the channels worn by the water flowing from all sides to a centre. Sometimes, also, when the ice was covered with shallow puddles, I saw a double shadow of myself, one standing on the head of the other, one on the ice, the other on the trees or hillside.

  While yet it is cold January, and snow and ice are thick and solid, the prudent landlord comes from the village to get ice to cool his summer drink; impressively, even pathetically, wise, to foresee the heat and thirst of July now in January —— wearing a thick coat and mittens! when so many things are not provided for. It may be that he lays up no treasures in this world which will cool his summer drink in the next. He cuts and saws the solid pond,unroofs the house of fishes, and carts off their very element and air, held fast by chains and stakes like corded wood, through the favoring winter air, to wintry cellars, to underlie the summer there. It looks like solidified azure, as, far off, it is drawn through the streets. These ice-cutters are a merry race, full of jest and sport, and when I went among them they were wont to invite me to saw pit-fashion with them, I standing underneath.

  In the winter of '46-7 there came a hundred men of Hyperborean extraction swoop down on to our pond one morning, with many carloads of ungainly-looking farming tools —— sleds, plows, drill-barrows,turf-knives, spades, saws, rakes, and each man was armed with a double-pointed pike-staff, such as is not described in the New-England Farmer or the Cultivator. I did not know whether they had come to sow a crop of winter rye, or some other kind of grain recently introduced from Iceland. As I saw no manure, I judged that they meant to skim the land, as I had done, thinking the soil was deep and had lain fallow long enough. They said that a gentleman farmer, who was behind the scenes, wanted to double his money,which, as I understood, amounted to half a million already; but in order to cover each one of his dollars with another, he took off the only coat, ay, the skin itself, of Walden Pond in the midst of a hard winter. They went to work at once, plowing, barrowing,rolling, furrowing, in admirable order, as if they were bent on making this a model farm; but when I was looking sharp to see what kind of seed they dropped into the furrow, a gang of fellows by my side suddenly began to hook up the virgin mould itself, with a peculiar jerk, clean down to the sand, or rather the water —— for it was a very springy soil —— indeed all the terra firma there was ——and haul it away on sleds, and then I guessed that they must be cutting peat in a bog. So they came and went every day, with a peculiar shriek from the locomotive, from and to some point of the polar regions, as it seemed to me, like a flock of arctic snow-birds. But sometimes Squaw Walden had her revenge, and a hired man, walking behind his team, slipped through a crack in the ground down toward Tartarus, and he who was so brave before suddenly became but the ninth part of a man, almost gave up his animal heat, and was glad to take refuge in my house, and acknowledged that there was some virtue in a stove; or sometimes the frozen soil took a piece of steel out of a plowshare, or a plow got set in the furrow and had to be cut out.

  当我勘察的时候,十六英寸厚的冰层,也像水波一样,会在微风之下有些波动。大家都知道在冰上,酒精水准仪是不能用的。在冰上,摆一根刻有度数的棒,再把酒精水准仪放在岸上,对准它来观察,那未离岸一杆处,冰层的最大的波动有四分之三英寸,尽管冰层似乎跟湖岸是紧接着的。在湖心的波动,恐怕更大。谁知道呢?如果我们的仪器更精密的话,我们还可以测出地球表面的波动呢。当我的水准仪的三只脚,两只放在岸上,一只放在冰上,而在第三只脚上瞄准并观察时,冰上的极微小的波动可以在湖对岸的一棵树上,变成数英尺的区别。当我为了测量水深,而开始挖洞之时,深深的积雪下面,冰层的上面有三四英寸的水,是积雪使冰下沉了几英寸;水立刻从窟窿中流下去,引成深深的溪流,一连流了两天才流完,把四周的冰都磨光了,湖面变得干燥,这虽然不是主要的,却也是很重要的原因;因为,当水流下去的时候,它提高了,浮起了冰层。

  这好像是在船底下挖出一个洞,让水流出去,当这些洞又冻结了,接着又下了雨,最后又来了次新的冰冻,全湖上都罩上一层新鲜光滑的冰面,冰的内部就有了美丽的网络的形状,很像是黑色的蜘蛛网,你不妨称之为玫瑰花形的冰球,那是从四方流到中心的水流所形成的。也有一些时候,当冰上有浅浅的水潭时,我能看到我自己的两个影子,一个重叠在另一个上面,一个影子在冰上,一个在树木或山坡的倒影上。

  还在寒冷的一月份中,冰雪依然很厚很坚固的时候,一些精明的地主老爷已经从村中来拿回冰去,准备冰冻夏天的冷饮了;现在只在一月中,就想到了七月中的炎热和口渴了,这样的聪明给人留下深刻的印象,甚至使人觉得可悲,——现在,他还穿着厚大衣,戴着皮手套呢!况且有那么多的事情,他都没有一点儿准备。他也许还没有在这个世界上准备了什么可贵的东西,让他将来在另一世界上可以作为夏天的冷饮的。他砍着锯着坚固的冰,把鱼住宅的屋顶给拆掉了,用锁链把冰块和寒气一起,像捆住木料一样地捆绑了起来,用车子载走,经过有利的寒冷的空气,运到了冬天的地窖中,在那里,让它们静待炎夏来临。当它们远远地给拖过村子的时候,看起来仿佛是固体化的碧空。

  这些挖冰的都是快活的人,充满了玩笑和游戏精神,每当我来到他们中间的时候,他们常常请求我站在下面,同他们一上一下地用大锯来锯冰。

  在一八四六——一八四七年的冬季,来了一百个出身于北极的人,那天早晨,他们涌到了这湖滨来,带来了好几车笨重的农具,雪车,犁耙,条播机,轧草机,铲子,锯子,耙子,每一个人还带着一柄两股叉,这种两股叉,就是《新英格兰农业杂志》或《农事杂志》上都没有描写过的。我不知道他们的来意是否为了播种冬天的黑麦,或是播种什么新近从冰岛推销过来的新种子。由于没有看到肥料,我判断他们和我一样,大约不预备深耕了,以为泥土很深,已经休闲得够久了。他们告诉我,有一位农民绅士,他自己没有登场,想使他的钱财加一倍,那笔钱财,据我所知,大约已经有五十万了;现在为了在每一个金元之上,再放上一个金元起见,他剥去了,是的,剥去了瓦尔登湖的唯一的外衣,不,剥去了它的皮,而且是在这样的严寒的冬天里!他们立刻工作了,耕着,耙着,滚着,犁着,秩序井然,好像他们要把这里变成一个模范的农场:可是正在我睁大了眼睛看他们要播下什么种子的时候,我旁边的一群人突然开始钩起那处女地来了,猛的一动,就一直钩到沙地上,或者钩到水里,因为这是一片很松软的土地,——那儿的一切的大地都是这样,——立刻用一辆雪车把它载走了,那时候我猜想,他们一定是在泥沼里挖泥炭吧。他们每天这样来了,去了,火车发出了锐叫声,好像他们来自北极区,又回到北极区,我觉得就像一群北冰洋中的雪鹀一样的。有时候,瓦尔登这印第安女子复仇了,一个雇工,走在队伍后面的,不留神滑入了地上一条通到冥府去的裂缝中,于是刚才还勇敢无比的人物只剩了九分之一的生命,他的动物的体温几乎全部消失了,能够躲入我的木屋中,算是他的运气,他不能不承认火炉之中确有美德;有时候,那冰冻的土地把犁头的一只钢齿折断了;有时,犁陷在犁沟中了,不得不把冰挖破才能取出来。

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