detect their law
...Thoreau's Journal: 04-Jan-1852

To Fair Haven on the ice partially covered with snow.

The cracks in the ice show a white cleavage. What is their law? Somewhat like foliage, but too rectangular, like the characters of some Oriental language. I feel as if I could get grammar and dictionary and go into it. They are of the form which a thin flake of ice takes in melting, somewhat rectangular with an irregular edge.

The pond is covered,—dappled or sprinkled,—more than half covered, with flat drifts or patches of snow which has lodged, of graceful curving outlines. One would like to skim over it like a hawk, and detect their law.


michael jameson said...

yet there law is the law of nature.

Quinton Blue said...

This description is almost photographic. In Thoreau's time, photography was cumbersome and not widespread. Did the absence encourage closer observation? Has technology made us less observant?