Boldwood was noticing … how the footprints of a few birds, which had hopped over the snow whilst it lay in the state of soft fleece, were now frozen to a short permanency.Far from the Madding Crowd p. 87
“Short permanency”: what a delightful phrase. A contradiction for sure, but we know exactly what he means. The frozen tracks are captures of what came by, preserved for us to stoop and look at if we wish, undisturbed by wind as they would have been had it still been in the state of “soft fleece.” And so we can return again and bring others with us—until the sun shines and the weather warms. The delight is encased; then it vanishes away.