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瓦尔登湖:House-Warming5

2006-07-29 17:02

  At length the winter set in good earnest, just as I had finished plastering, and the wind began to howl around the house as if it had not had permission to do so till then.  Night after night the geese came lumbering in the dark with a clangor and a whistling of wings,even after the ground was covered with snow, some to alight in Walden, and some flying low over the woods toward Fair Haven, bound for Mexico.  Several times, when returning from the village at ten or eleven o'clock at night, I heard the tread of a flock of geese,or else ducks, on the dry leaves in the woods by a pond-hole behind my dwelling, where they had come up to feed, and the faint honk or quack of their leader as they hurried off.  In 1845 Walden froze entirely over for the first time on the night of the 22d of December, Flint's and other shallower ponds and the river having been frozen ten days or more; in '46, the 16th; in '49, about the 31st; and in '50, about the 27th of December; in '52, the 5th of January; in '53, the 31st of December.  The snow had already covered the ground since the 25th of November, and surrounded me suddenly with the scenery of winter.  I withdrew yet farther into my shell,and endeavored to keep a bright fire both within my house and within my breast.  My employment out of doors now was to collect the dead wood in the forest, bringing it in my hands or on my shoulders, or sometimes trailing a dead pine tree under each arm to my shed.  An old forest fence which had seen its best days was a great haul for me.  I sacrificed it to Vulcan, for it was past serving the god Terminus.  How much more interesting an event is that man's supper who has just been forth in the snow to hunt, nay, you might say,steal, the fuel to cook it with!  His bread and meat are sweet. There are enough fagots and waste wood of all kinds in the forests of most of our towns to support many fires, but which at present warm none, and, some think, hinder the growth of the young wood. There was also the driftwood of the pond.  In the course of the summer I had discovered a raft of pitch pine logs with the bark on,pinned together by the Irish when the railroad was built.  This I hauled up partly on the shore.  After soaking two years and then lying high six months it was perfectly sound, though waterlogged past drying.  I amused myself one winter day with sliding this piecemeal across the pond, nearly half a mile, skating behind with one end of a log fifteen feet long on my shoulder, and the other on the ice; or I tied several logs together with a birch withe, and then, with a longer birch or alder which had a book at the end,dragged them across.  Though completely waterlogged and almost as heavy as lead, they not only burned long, but made a very hot fire;nay, I thought that they burned better for the soaking, as if the pitch, being confined by the water, burned longer, as in a lamp.

  Gilpin, in his account of the forest borderers of England, says that "the encroachments of trespassers, and the houses and fences thus raised on the borders of the forest," were "considered as great nuisances by the old forest law, and were severely punished under the name of purprestures, as tending ad terrorem ferarum —— ad nocumentum forestae, etc.," to the frightening of the game and the detriment of the forest.  But I was interested in the preservation of the venison and the vert more than the hunters or woodchoppers,and as much as though I had been the Lord Warden himself; and if any part was burned, though I burned it myself by accident, I grieved with a grief that lasted longer and was more inconsolable than that of the proprietors; nay, I grieved when it was cut down by the proprietors themselves.  I would that our farmers when they cut down a forest felt some of that awe which the old Romans did when they came to thin, or let in the light to, a consecrated grove (lucum conlucare), that is, would believe that it is sacred to some god. The Roman made an expiatory offering, and prayed, Whatever god or goddess thou art to whom this grove is sacred, be propitious to me,my family, and children, etc.

  It is remarkable what a value is still put upon wood even in this age and in this new country, a value more permanent and universal than that of gold.  After all our discoveries and inventions no man will go by a pile of wood.  It is as precious to us as it was to our Saxon and Norman ancestors.  If they made their bows of it, we make our gun-stocks of it.  Michaux, more than thirty years ago, says that the price of wood for fuel in New York and Philadelphia "nearly equals, and sometimes exceeds, that of the best wood in Paris, though this immense capital annually requires more than three hundred thousand cords, and is surrounded to the distance of three hundred miles by cultivated plains."  In this town the price of wood rises almost steadily, and the only question is, how much higher it is to be this year than it was the last.  Mechanics and tradesmen who come in person to the forest on no other errand,are sure to attend the wood auction, and even pay a high price for the privilege of gleaning after the woodchopper.  It is now many years that men have resorted to the forest for fuel and the materials of the arts: the New Englander and the New Hollander, the Parisian and the Celt, the farmer and Robin Hood, Goody Blake and Harry Gill; in most parts of the world the prince and the peasant,the scholar and the savage, equally require still a few sticks from the forest to warm them and cook their food.  Neither could I do without them.

  Every man looks at his wood-pile with a kind of affection.  I love to have mine before my window, and the more chips the better to remind me of my pleasing work.  I had an old axe which nobody claimed, with which by spells in winter days, on the sunny side of the house, I played about the stumps which I had got out of my bean-field.  As my driver prophesied when I was plowing, they warmed me twice —— once while I was splitting them, and again when they were on the fire, so that no fuel could give out more heat.  As for the axe, I was advised to get the village blacksmith to "jump" it;but I jumped him, and, putting a hickory helve from the woods into it, made it do.  If it was dull, it was at least hung true.

  A few pieces of fat pine were a great treasure.  It is interesting to remember how much of this food for fire is still concealed in the bowels of the earth.  In previous years I had often gone prospecting over some bare hillside, where a pitch pine wood had formerly stood, and got out the fat pine roots.  They are almost indestructible.  Stumps thirty or forty years old, at least, will still be sound at the core, though the sapwood has all become vegetable mould, as appears by the scales of the thick bark forming a ring level with the earth four or five inches distant from the heart.  With axe and shovel you explore this mine, and follow the marrowy store, yellow as beef tallow, or as if you had struck on a vein of gold, deep into the earth.  But commonly I kindled my fire with the dry leaves of the forest, which I had stored up in my shed before the snow came.  Green hickory finely split makes the woodchopper's kindlings, when he has a camp in the woods.  Once in a while I got a little of this.  When the villagers were lighting their fires beyond the horizon, I too gave notice to the various wild inhabitants of Walden vale, by a smoky streamer from my chimney, that I was awake.——

  Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;By night star-veiling, and by day Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

  Hard green wood just cut, though I used but little of that,answered my purpose better than any other.  I sometimes left a good fire when I went to take a walk in a winter afternoon; and when I returned, three or four hours afterward, it would be still alive and glowing.  My house was not empty though I was gone.  It was as if I had left a cheerful housekeeper behind.  It was I and Fire that lived there; and commonly my housekeeper proved trustworthy.  One day, however, as I was splitting wood, I thought that I would just look in at the window and see if the house was not on fire; it was the only time I remember to have been particularly anxious on this score; so I looked and saw that a spark had caught my bed, and I went in and extinguished it when it had burned a place as big as my hand.  But my house occupied so sunny and sheltered a position, and its roof was so low, that I could afford to let the fire go out in the middle of almost any winter day. The moles nested in my cellar, nibbling every third potato, and making a snug bed even there of some hair left after plastering and of brown paper; for even the wildest animals love comfort and warmth as well as man, and they survive the winter only because they are so careful to secure them.  Some of my friends spoke as if I was coming to the woods on purpose to freeze myself.  The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body, in a sheltered place; but man,having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment,and warms that, instead of robbing himself, makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of winter, and by means of windows even admit the light, and with a lamp lengthen out the day.  Thus he goes a step or two beyond instinct, and saves a little time for the fine arts.  Though, when I had been exposed to the rudest blasts a long time, my whole body began to grow torpid, when I reached the genial atmosphere of my house I soon recovered my faculties and prolonged my life.  But the most luxuriously housed has little to boast of in this respect, nor need we trouble ourselves to speculate how the human race may be at last destroyed.  It would be easy to cut their threads any time with a little sharper blast from the north.  We go on dating from Cold Fridays and Great Snows; but a little colder Friday, or greater snow would put a period to man's existence on the globe. The next winter I used a small cooking-stove for economy, since I did not own the forest; but it did not keep fire so well as the open fireplace.  Cooking was then, for the most part, no longer a poetic, but merely a chemic process.  It will soon be forgotten, in these days of stoves, that we used to roast potatoes in the ashes,after the Indian fashion.  The stove not only took up room and scented the house, but it concealed the fire, and I felt as if I had lost a companion.  You can always see a face in the fire.  The laborer, looking into it at evening, purifies his thoughts of the dross and earthiness which they have accumulated during the day. But I could no longer sit and look into the fire, and the pertinent words of a poet recurred to me with new force.——

  "Never, bright flame, may be denied to me Thy dear, life imaging, close sympathy. What but my hopes shot upward e'er so bright?

  What but my fortunes sunk so low in night?

  Why art thou banished from our hearth and hall,Thou who art welcomed and beloved by all?

  Was thy existence then too fanciful For our life's common light, who are so dull?

  Did thy bright gleam mysterious converse hold With our congenial souls? secrets too bold?

  Well, we are safe and strong, for now we sit Beside a hearth where no dim shadows flit,Where nothing cheers nor saddens, but a fire Warms feet and hands —— nor does to more aspire;By whose compact utilitarian heap The present may sit down and go to sleep,Nor fear the ghosts who from the dim past walked,And with us by the unequal light of the old wood fire talked."

  ]最后冬天热心地来到了;刚好我把泥墙完成,那狂风就开始在屋子的周围吼叫,仿佛它待命已久,这时才获准吼叫。一夜夜,飞鹅在黑暗中隆隆而来,呼号着拍动着翅膀,一直到大地上已经铺了白雪之后,有的停在瓦尔登,有的低飞过森林到美港,准备上墨西哥,好几次,在十点十一点光景,从村里回到了家,我听到一群飞鹅的脚声,要不然就是野鸭,在我屋后,踩过洼地边林中的枯叶,它们要去那里觅食了,我还能听到它们的领队低唤着急行而去。一八四五年里,瓦尔登全面冻结的第一夜是十二月二十二日的晚上,早十多天,茀灵特和其他较浅的湖沼早就全部冻上了;四六年里是十六那一夜冻的;四九年大约是三十一日夜里;五0年大约是十二月二十七日;五二年,一月五日;五三年,十二月三十一日。自十一月二十五日以来,雪已经在地面上积起来了,突然间冬天的景象展现在我的面前。我更加躲进我的小窝里,希望在我的屋子和我的心中都点亮一个火。现在我的户外工作便是到森林中去找枯木,抱在我手中,或者放在我肩膀上,把它们拿回来,有时还在左右两臂下各自挟了干枯松枝,把它们拖回家。曾经在夏令用作藩篱的茂郁松树现在却够我拖的了。我用它们祭了火神,因为它们已经祭过土地之神。

  这是多么有味的事,到森林中去猎取,或者说,去偷窃燃料,煮熟一顿饭菜!我的面包和肉食都很香。我们大部分的乡镇,在森林里都有足够的柴薪和废木料可以生火,可是目前它何却没有给任何人以温暖,有人还认为它们阻碍了幼林的发展。湖上还有许多漂浮而来的木料。夏天里,我曾经发现了一个苍松的木筏,是造铁路的时候,爱尔兰人钉起来的,树皮都还保留着。我把它们的一部分拖上了岸。已经浸过两年之久,现在又躺在高地有六个月,虽说还饱和着水没法晒干,却是十全十美的木料。这个冬天里的一天,我把木头一根根拖过湖来,以此自娱,拖了半英里路,木头有十五英尺长,一头搁在我肩上,一头放在冰上,就像溜冰似的溜了过来;要不我就把几根木料用赤杨的纤枝来捆上,再用一枝较长的赤杨或桤木丫枝钩住它,钩了过湖。这些木头虽然饱和着水,并且重得像铅,但是却不仅经烧,而且烧的火很热;而且,我还觉得它们浸湿了更好烧,好像浸水的松脂,在灯里烧起来格外经久。

  吉尔平在他的英格兰森林中的居民记录里面,写着:“一些人侵占了土地,在森林中就这样筑了篱笆,造了屋子,”在“古老的森林法规中,这是被认为很有害的而要以强占土地的罪名重罚的,因为ad terrorem ferarum——ad nocumentum fore-stae等等”

  使飞禽恐惧,使森林受损。可是我比猎者或伐木者更关心野味和森林保护,仿佛我自己便是护林官一样;假若它有一部分给烧掉了,即便是我自己不小心烧掉的,我也要大为悲伤,比任何一个森林主本人都要哀痛得更长久,而且更无法安慰。我希望我们的农夫在砍伐一个森林的时候,能够感觉到那种恐惧,好像古罗马人士在使一个神圣森林(lu cum conlucare)里的树木更稀些,以便放阳光进来的时候所感觉到的恐惧一样,因为他们觉得这个森林是属于一些天神的。罗马人先赎罪,后析祷,无论你是男神或女神,这森林是因你而神圣的,愿你赐福给我,给我的家庭和我的孩子们,等等。

  甚至在这种时代,这新大陆上的森林却还是极有价值的,有一种比黄金更永久更普遍的价值,这真是很惊人的。我们已经发明和发现了许多东西,但没有人能经过一堆木料而毫不心动的。它对我们是非常地宝贵,正如对我们的撒克逊和诺尔门的祖先一样。

  如果他们是用来做弓箭,则我们是用它来做枪托的。米萧在三十多年前说过,纽约和费城的燃料的价钱,“几乎等于巴黎最好的木料的价钱,有时甚至于还要超过,虽然这大城市每年需要三十万‘考德’的燃料,而且周围三百英里的土地都已开垦过了。”在本乡镇上,木料的价钱几乎日夜在涨,唯一的问题是今年比去年涨多少。不是为了别的事情亲自到森林里来的机械师或商人,一定是为了林木拍卖才来的;甚至有人愿出很高的价钱来取得在砍伐者走了以后拣拾木头的权利。多少年代了啊,人类总是到森林中去找燃料和艺术的材料;新英格兰人,新荷兰人,巴黎人,克尔特人,农夫,罗宾汉,戈底。勃莱克和哈莱。吉尔;世界各地的王子和乡下人,学者和野蛮人,都要到森林里去拿一些木头出来,生火取暖煮饭。便是我,也肯定是少不了它的。

  每一个人看见了他的柴火堆都非常欢喜。我喜欢把我的柴火堆放在我的窗下,细木片越多越能够使我记起那愉快的工作。我有一柄没人要的旧斧头,冬天里我常常在屋子向阳的一面砍那些豆田中挖出来的树根。正如在我耕田时,我租用的马匹的主人曾预言过的,这些树根给了我两次温暖,一次是我劈开它们的时候,一次在燃烧它们的时候,可是再没有任何燃料能够发出更多的热量来了。至于那柄斧头,有人劝我到村中的铁匠那里去锻一下,可是我自己锻了它,并用一根山核桃木给它装上柄,可以用了。虽然它很钝,却至少是修好了。

  几片多油质的松木就是一大宝藏。不知道现在还有多少这样的燃料藏在大地的腹内。

  几年前,我常常在光秃秃的山顶上侦察,那地方曾经站着一个大松林,我找到过一些油质多的松根。它们几乎是不能毁灭的。至少三四十年老的树根,心子里还是完好的,虽然外表的边材已经腐朽了,那厚厚的树皮在心子外边四、五英寸的地方形成了一个环,和地面相齐。你用斧头和铲子,探索这个矿藏,沿着那黄黄的牛油脂似的、骨髓似的储藏,或者仿佛找到了金矿的矿苗似的,一直深入到地里去。通常我是用森林中的枯叶来引火的,那还是在下雪以前,我在我的棚子里储藏起来的。青青的山核桃木,精巧地劈开,那是樵夫们在森林中生营火时所用的引火。每隔一阵,我也把这一种燃料预备好一些。正如村中的袅袅的炊烟一样,我的烟囱上也有一道浓烟流出来,让瓦尔登谷中的许多野性的居民知道我是醒着的:——翅膀轻展的烟啊,伊卡洛斯之鸟,向上升腾,你的羽毛就要溶消,悄然无声的云雀,黎明的信使啊,盘旋在你的村屋上,那是你的巢;要不然你是逝去的梦,午夜的迷幻的身影,整理着你的裙裳;夜间给群星蒙上面纱,白天里,抹黑了光明,遮蔽了太阳光;我的薰香,去吧,从这火炉上升,见到诸神,请他们宽恕这通明的火光。

  虽然我只用很少坚硬的青翠的刚刚劈开的树木,它却比任何别种燃料更适合我用。

  有时在一个冬令的下午,我出去散步的时候,留下了一堆旺盛的火,三四个小时之后,我回来了,它还熊熊地燃烧着。我出去之后,房中还并不是阒无一人的。好像我留下了一个愉快的管家妇在后面。住在那里的是我和火;一般说来,这位管家真是忠实可靠。

  然而,也有过一天,我正在劈木头,我想到我该到窗口去张望一下,看看这座房子是否着火了;在我的记忆中,就是这么一次,我特别在这事儿上焦虑了一下,所以,我去张望了,我看到一粒火星烧着了我的床铺,我就走了进去,把它扑灭,它已经烧去了像我手掌那么大的一块。既然我的房屋处在一个这样阳光充足,又这样挡风的位置上,它的屋脊又很低,所以在任何一个冬天的中午,我都可以让火熄灭。

  鼹鼠住在我的地窖里,每次要啃去三分之一的土豆,它们利用我泥墙以后还剩下来的兽毛和几张牛皮纸,做了它们的巢,因为就是最最野性的动物,也像人类一样地爱舒服和温暖,也只有因为它们是这样小心,得到了个窝,它们才能过了一个冬天还活着。

  我有几个朋友,说话的口气好像我跑到森林里来,是为了要把我自己冷藏起来。动物只要在荫蔽的地方安排一张床铺,它以自己的体温来取暖;人却因为发现了火,在一个宽大的房间内把空气关了起来,把它弄得很温暖,却不靠自己的体温,然后把这暖室做成他的卧床,让他可以少穿许多累赘的衣服而跑来跑去,在冬天里保持着一种夏天的温度,更因为有窗子,依然能邀入光明来,再用一盏灯火,就把白昼拉长。就这样他超起了他的本能一步或两步,节省下时间来从事美术了。虽然,每当我长久曝露于狂风之下,我的全身就开始麻木,可是等到我回到了满室生春的房屋之内,我立刻恢复了我的官能,又延长了我的生命。就是住在最奢华的房间里的人在这方面也没有什么可以夸耀的,我们也不必费神去猜测人类最后将怎么毁灭,只要从北方吹来一股稍为锐利一些的狂风,任何时候都可以结束他们的生命,这还不容易吗?我们往往用寒冷的星期五和大雪这种说法,来计算日子,可是一个更寒冷的星期五,或更大的雪,就可以把地球上的人类的生存告一段落的。

  第二年冬天,为了经济起见,我用了一只小小的炉灶,因为森林并不属于我所有,可是它并不像壁炉那样能让火焰保持旺盛了,那时候,煮饭多半不再是一个诗意的工作,而只成了一种化学的过程。在用炉灶的日子里,大家很快都忘记在火灰中像印第安人似的烤土豆了。炉灶不仅占地位,熏得房间里一股烟味,而且看不见火,我觉得仿佛失去了一个伴侣似的。你常常可以在火中认出一个面孔来。劳动者,在晚上凝望着火,常把白天积聚起来的杂乱而又粗俗的思想,都放到火里去洗炼。可是我再不能坐着凝望火焰了,有一位诗人的切题的诗句对我发生了新的力量。

  “光亮的火焰,永远不要拒绝我,你那可爱的生命之影,亲密之情,向上升腾的光亮,是我的希望?

  到夜晚沉沦低垂的是我的命运?

  你是所有的人都欢迎,都爱的,为何给放逐出我们的炉边和大厅?

  难道是你的存在太富于想象了,不能作迟钝的浮生的普遍照明?

  你的神秘的光芒不是跟我们的同性情的灵魂交谈吗?秘不可泄?

  是的,我们安全而强壮,因为现在我们坐在炉旁,炉中没有暗影。

  也许没有喜乐哀愁,只有一个火,温暖我们手和足——也不希望更多;有了它这坚密、实用的一堆火,在它前面的人可以坐下,可以安寝,不必怕黑暗中显现游魂厉鬼,古树的火光闪闪地和我们絮语。“

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