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瓦尔登湖:The Ponds4

2006-07-29 01:00

  Yet perchance the first who came to this well have left some trace of their footsteps.  I have been surprised to detect encircling the pond, even where a thick wood has just been cut down on the shore, a narrow shelf-like path in the steep hillside,alternately rising and falling, approaching and receding from the water's edge, as old probably as the race of man here, worn by the feet of aboriginal hunters, and still from time to time unwittingly trodden by the present occupants of the land.  This is particularly distinct to one standing on the middle of the pond in winter, just after a light snow has fallen, appearing as a clear undulating white line, unobscured by weeds and twigs, and very obvious a quarter of a mile off in many places where in summer it is hardly distinguishable close at hand.  The snow reprints it, as it were, in clear white type alto-relievo.  The ornamented grounds of villas which will one day be built here may still preserve some trace of this.

  The pond rises and falls, but whether regularly or not, and within what period, nobody knows, though, as usual, many pretend to know.  It is commonly higher in the winter and lower in the summer,though not corresponding to the general wet and dryness.  I can remember when it was a foot or two lower, and also when it was at least five feet higher, than when I lived by it.  There is a narrow sand-bar running into it, with very deep water on one side, on which I helped boil a kettle of chowder, some six rods from the main shore, about the year 1824, which it has not been possible to do for twenty-five years; and, on the other hand, my friends used to listen with incredulity when I told them, that a few years later I was accustomed to fish from a boat in a secluded cove in the woods,fifteen rods from the only shore they knew, which place was long since converted into a meadow.  But the pond has risen steadily for two years, and now, in the summer of '52, is just five feet higher than when I lived there, or as high as it was thirty years ago, and fishing goes on again in the meadow.  This makes a difference of level, at the outside, of six or seven feet; and yet the water shed by the surrounding hills is insignificant in amount, and this overflow must be referred to causes which affect the deep springs. This same summer the pond has begun to fall again.  It is remarkable that this fluctuation, whether periodical or not, appears thus to require many years for its accomplishment.  I have observed one rise and a part of two falls, and I expect that a dozen or fifteen years hence the water will again be as low as I have ever known it. Flint's Pond, a mile eastward, allowing for the disturbance occasioned by its inlets and outlets, and the smaller intermediate ponds also, sympathize with Walden, and recently attained their greatest height at the same time with the latter.  The same is true,as far as my observation goes, of White Pond.

  This rise and fall of Walden at long intervals serves this use at least; the water standing at this great height for a year or more, though it makes it difficult to walk round it, kills the shrubs and trees which have sprung up about its edge since the last rise —— pitch pines, birches, alders, aspens, and others —— and,falling again, leaves an unobstructed shore; for, unlike many ponds and all waters which are subject to a daily tide, its shore is cleanest when the water is lowest.  On the side of the pond next my house a row of pitch pines, fifteen feet high, has been killed and tipped over as if by a lever, and thus a stop put to their encroachments; and their size indicates how many years have elapsed since the last rise to this height.  By this fluctuation the pond asserts its title to a shore, and thus the shore is shorn, and the trees cannot hold it by right of possession.  These are the lips of the lake, on which no beard grows.  It licks its chaps from time to time.  When the water is at its height, the alders, willows, and maples send forth a mass of fibrous red roots several feet long from all sides of their stems in the water, and to the height of three or four feet from the ground, in the effort to maintain themselves; and I have known the high blueberry bushes about the shore, which commonly produce no fruit, bear an abundant crop under these circumstances.

  第一个到这个湖边来的人们可能留下过他们的足迹。我曾经很惊异地发现,就在沿湖被砍伐了的一个浓密的森林那儿,峻削的山崖中,有一条绕湖一匝的狭窄的高架的小径,一会儿上,一忽儿下,一会儿接近湖,一忽儿又离远了一些,它或许和人类同年,土著的猎者,用脚步走出了这条路来,以后世世代代都有这片土地上的居住者不知不觉地用脚走过去。冬天,站在湖中央,看起来这就更加清楚,特别在下了一阵小雪之后,它就成了连绵起伏的一条白线,败草和枯枝都不能够掩蔽它,许多地点,在四分之一英里以外看起来还格外清楚,但是夏天里,便是走近去看,也还是看不出来。可以说,雪花用清楚的白色的浮雕又把它印刷出来了。但愿到了将来,人们在这里建造一些别墅的装饰庭园时,还能保留这一残迹。

  湖水时涨时落,但是有没有规律,如有规律,又是怎样的周期,谁也不知道,虽然有不少人,照常要装作是知道的。冬天的水位通常要高一些,夏天的总低一些,但水位与天气的干燥潮湿却没有关系。我还记得,何时水退到比我住在那儿的时候低了一两英尺,何时又涨高了至少有五英尺。有一个狭长的沙洲伸展到湖中,它的一面是深水,离主岸约六杆,那大约是一八二四年,我曾在上面煮开过一壶杂烩,可是一连二十五年水淹没了它,我无法再去煮什么了;另一方面,当我告诉我的朋友们说,数年之后,我会经常垂钧在森林中的那个僻隐的山凹里,驾一叶扁舟,在离开他们现在看得见的湖岸约十五杆的地方,那里早已成为一片草地了,他们常常听得将信将疑。可是,两年来,湖一直在涨高,现在,一八五二年的夏天,比我居住那儿的时候已经高出五英尺,相当于三十年之前的高度,在那片草地上又可以垂钓了。从外表看,水位已涨了六七英尺,但是从周围的山上流下来的水量实际上不多,涨水一定是由于影响它深处泉源的一些原因。

  同一个夏天里水又退了。惊人的是这种涨落,不管它有否周期,却需要好几年才能够完成。我观察到一次涨,又部分地观察了两次退,我想在十二或十五年后,水位又要降落到我以前知道的地方。偏东一英里,茀灵特湖有泉水流入,又流水出去,是激荡涨落的,而一些介乎中间的较小的湖沼却和瓦尔登湖同进退,最近也涨到了它们的最高的水位,时间与后者相同。根据我的观察所及,白湖的情形也如此。

  间隔很久的瓦尔登湖的涨落至少有这样一个作用:在最高的水位维持了一年左右,沿湖步行固然困难了,但自从上一次水涨以来,沿湖生长的灌木和苍松,白桦,桤木,白杨等树木都给冲刷掉了,等它水位退下,就留下一片干净的湖岸,它不像别的湖沼和每天水位涨落的河流,它在水位最低时,湖岸上反而最清洁。在我屋边的那湖岸上,一排十五英尺高的苍松给冲刷了,仿佛给杠杆掀倒了似的,这样制止了它们的侵占;那树木的大小恰好说明了上次水位上涨到这个高度迄今有了多少年。用这样的涨落方式,湖保持了它的拥有湖岸的权利,湖岸这样被刮去了胡须,树木不能凭着所有权来占领它。

  湖的舌头舔着,使胡子生长不出来。它时时要舔舔它的面颊。当湖水涨得最高时,桤木,柳树和枫树从它们的淹在水里的根上伸出来大量纤维质的红根须,长达数英尺,离地有三四英尺高,想这样来保护它们自己;我还发现了,那些在岸边高处的浆果,通常是不结果实的,但在这种情况下,却就有了丰收。

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