The consolation of natural philosophy

January 21, 2008

I was walking this evening, through the bitter cold, along the bank of the river. It was dark and silent as death, and I realized how much I miss the sound of bird-song. It has been months now since we’ve heard any. Why do they leave us? And then I looked at the river, and I remembered that they were closer than I had thought:

He seemed pleased to talk of natural philosophy. “That woodcocks, (said he,) fly over to the northern countries is proved, because they have been observed at sea. Swallows certainly sleep all the winter. A number of them conglobulate together, by flying round and round, and then all in a heap throw themselves under water, and lye in the bed of a river.” (Boswell, Life of Johnson)

I was greatly consoled.
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One Response to “The consolation of natural philosophy”


  1. [...] of snow, and then a few days of spring rain to coax the May flowers out of hiding. Best of all, the birds have returned. They can be heard in the morning, warbling like little messengers of [...]


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