Henry David Thoreau was America's most serious student of winter. "Inspector of snowstorms," he jotted down on forms under the "occupation" question. This 19th-century writer and philosopher carefully watched the seasons come and go. He wore out shoe leather rambling through the cold seasons in his native New England. He explored winter at every hour of night and day, always alert to hear what was in the wind, to feel the tang and piquancy of the season and boil down some meaning out of the daily circumstances beyond his doorstep. He painstakingly recorded his observations, impressions and thoughts in his journals.
In one journal entry in 1854 he summarized his winter observations:
"The winter, cold and bound out as it is, is thrown to us like a bone to a famishing dog, and we are expected to get the marrow out of it ... We must thaw its cold with our genialness. We are tasked to find out and appropriate all the nutriments it yields. If it is a cold and hard season, its fruit, no doubt, is the more concentrated and nutty ... The seasons were not made in vain."
He maybe took time to warm the tip of his pen in a whale-oil lamp, then added: