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Where I Lived, and What I Lived For3

2006-07-28 23:58

  The only house I had been the owner of before, if I except a boat, was a tent, which I used occasionally when making excursions in the summer, and this is still rolled up in my garret; but the boat, after passing from hand to hand, has gone down the stream of time.  With this more substantial shelter about me, I had made some progress toward settling in the world.  This frame, so slightly clad, was a sort of crystallization around me, and reacted on the builder.  It was suggestive somewhat as a picture in outlines.  I did not need to go outdoors to take the air, for the atmosphere within had lost none of its freshness.  It was not so much within doors as behind a door where I sat, even in the rainiest weather. The Harivansa says, "An abode without birds is like a meat without seasoning."  Such was not my abode, for I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them.  I was not only nearer to some of those which commonly frequent the garden and the orchard, but to those smaller and more thrilling songsters of the forest which never, or rarely, serenade a villager —— the wood thrush, the veery, the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the whip-poor-will, and many others.

  I was seated by the shore of a small pond, about a mile and a half south of the village of Concord and somewhat higher than it, in the midst of an extensive wood between that town and Lincoln, and about two miles south of that our only field known to fame, Concord Battle Ground; but I was so low in the woods that the opposite shore, half a mile off, like the rest, covered with wood, was my most distant horizon.  For the first week, whenever I looked out on the pond it impressed me like a tarn high up on the side of a mountain, its bottom far above the surface of other lakes, and, as the sun arose, I saw it throwing off its nightly clothing of mist,and here and there, by degrees, its soft ripples or its smooth reflecting surface was revealed, while the mists, like ghosts, were stealthily withdrawing in every direction into the woods, as at the breaking up of some nocturnal conventicle.  The very dew seemed to hang upon the trees later into the day than usual, as on the sides of mountains.

  This small lake was of most value as a neighbor in the intervals of a gentle rain-storm in August, when, both air and water being perfectly still, but the sky overcast, mid-afternoon had all the serenity of evening, and the wood thrush sang around, and was heard from shore to shore.  A lake like this is never smoother than at such a time; and the clear portion of the air above it being,shallow and darkened by clouds, the water, full of light and reflections, becomes a lower heaven itself so much the more important.  From a hill-top near by, where the wood had been recently cut off, there was a pleasing vista southward across the pond, through a wide indentation in the hills which form the shore there, where their opposite sides sloping toward each other suggested a stream flowing out in that direction through a wooded valley, but stream there was none.  That way I looked between and over the near green hills to some distant and higher ones in the horizon, tinged with blue.  Indeed, by standing on tiptoe I could catch a glimpse of some of the peaks of the still bluer and more distant mountain ranges in the northwest, those true-blue coins from heaven's own mint, and also of some portion of the village.  But in other directions, even from this point, I could not see over or beyond the woods which surrounded me.  It is well to have some water in your neighborhood, to give buoyancy to and float the earth.  One value even of the smallest well is, that when you look into it you see that earth is not continent but insular.  This is as important as that it keeps butter cool.  When I looked across the pond from this peak toward the Sudbury meadows, which in time of flood I distinguished elevated perhaps by a mirage in their seething valley,like a coin in a basin, all the earth beyond the pond appeared like a thin crust insulated and floated even by this small sheet of interverting water, and I was reminded that this on which I dwelt was but dry land.

  除掉了一条小船之外,从前我曾经拥有的唯一屋宇,不过是一顶篷帐,夏天里,我偶或带了它出去郊游,这顶篷帐现在已卷了起来,放在我的阁楼里;只是那条小船,辗转经过了几个人的手,已经消隐于时间的溪流里。如今我却有了这更实际的避风雨的房屋,看来我活在这世间,已大有进步。这座屋宇虽然很单薄,却是围绕我的一种结晶了的东西,这一点立刻在建筑者心上发生了作用。它富于暗示的作用,好像绘画中的一幅素描。我不必跑出门去换空气,因为屋子里面的气氛一点儿也没有失去新鲜。坐在一扇门背后,几乎和不坐在门里面一样,便是下大雨的天气,亦如此。哈利梵萨说过:“并无鸟雀巢居的房屋像未曾调味的烧肉。”寒舍却并不如此,因为我发现我自己突然跟鸟雀做起邻居来了;但不是我捕到了一只鸟把它关起来,而是我把我自己关进了它们的邻近一只笼子里。我不仅跟那些时常飞到花园和果树园里来的鸟雀弥形亲近,而且跟那些更野性、更逗人惊诧的森林中的鸟雀亲近了起来,它们从来没有,就有也很难得,向村镇上的人民唱出良宵的雅歌的,——它们是画眉,东部鸫鸟,红色的碛鶸,野麻雀,怪鸱和许多别的鸣禽。

  我坐在一个小湖的湖岸上,离开康科德村子南面约一英里半,较康科德高出些,就在市镇与林肯乡之间那片浩瀚的森林中央,也在我们的唯一著名地区,康科德战场之南的两英里地;但因为我是低伏在森林下面的,而其余的一切地区,都给森林掩盖了,所以半英里之外的湖的对岸便成了我最遥远的地平线。在第一个星期内,无论什么时候我凝望着湖水,湖给我的印象都好像山里的一泓龙潭,高高在山的一边,它的底还比别的湖沼的水平面高了不少,以至日出的时候,我看到它脱去了夜晚的雾衣,它轻柔的粼波,或它波平如镜的湖面,都渐渐地在这里那里呈现了,这时的雾,像幽灵偷偷地从每一个方向,退隐入森林中,又好像是一个夜间的秘密宗教集会散会了一样。露水后来要悬挂在林梢,悬挂在山侧,到第二天还一直不肯消失。

  八月里,在轻柔的斜凤细雨暂停的时候,这小小的湖做我的邻居,最为珍贵,那时水和空气都完全平静了,天空中却密布着乌云,下午才过了一半却已具备了一切黄昏的肃穆,而画眉在四周唱歌,隔岸相闻。这样的湖,再没有比这时候更平静的了;湖上的明净的空气自然很稀薄,而且给乌云映得很黯淡了,湖水却充满了光明和倒影,成为一个下界的天空,更加值得珍视。从最近被伐木的附近一个峰顶上向南看,穿过小山间的巨大凹处,看得见隔湖的一幅愉快的图景,那凹处正好形成湖岸,那儿两座小山坡相倾斜而下,使人感觉到似有一条溪涧从山林谷中流下,但是,却没有溪涧。我是这样地从近处的绿色山峰之间和之上,远望一些蔚蓝的地平线上的远山或更高的山峰的。真的,踮起了足尖来,我可以望见西北角上更远、更蓝的山脉,这种蓝颜色是天空的染料制造厂中最真实的出品,我还可以望见村镇的一角。但是要换一个方向看的话,虽然我站得如此高,却给郁茂的树木围住,什么也看不透,看不到了。在邻近,有一些流水真好,水有浮力,地就浮在上面了。便是最小的井也有这一点值得推荐,当你窥望井底的时候,你发现大地并不是连绵的大陆;而是隔绝的孤岛。这是很重要的,正如井水之能冷藏牛油。当我的目光从这一个山顶越过湖向萨德伯里草原望过去的时候,在发大水的季节里,我觉得草原升高了,大约是蒸腾的山谷中显示出海市蜃楼的效果,它好像沉在水盆底下的一个天然铸成的铜市,湖之外的大地都好像薄薄的表皮,成了孤岛,给小小一片横亘的水波浮载着,我才被提醒,我居住的地方只不过是干燥的土地。

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