THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Nature's Decoration of an Old Pine Stump
THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
EDITED BY BRADFORD TORREY
AUGUST 8, 1857-JuNE 29, 1858
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
(Qbe Ribersie res1 Cambribge
COPYRIGHT I906 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
All rights reserved
CHAPTER I. August, 1857 (ET. 40) 3
Glow-Worms A Remarkable Fungus Life Jewelry,
False and True A Cuckoo With Austin Bacon in Natick
Emerson at Naushon- A Veteran of the Revolution -
CHAPTER II. September, 1857 (ET. 40) 21
Some Large Yellow Birches A Large Rhus radicans -
Prinos levigatus At Bateman's Pond Larch Trees and a
Tupelo Gathering Pine Cones A Wood Frog A Beau-
tiful Pine Grove More Glow-Worms Nabalus Beach
Plums A Dense White Pine Grove A Squirrel burying a
Nut Hardwood Trees under Pines The Blushing of the
Red Maple An Old Grist-Mill Crickets A Virtuous
Red Maple Hawks Poitrine Jaune Grosse Vandalism
A Talk with Minott Wyman and the Crow.
CHAPTER III. October, 1857. (ar. 40) 55
The Changing of the Leaves Old Furniture Employed
as a Mason Building a Wood-Shed Kicked by a Horse -
Minott's Peach Tree Story A Red Squirrel The Turning
Foliage Ruskin's "Modern Painters" The Red of a
Maple Swamp Autumn from Fair Haven Hill Entertain-
ing Visitors Walden's Brilliant Belt A Rabbit's Living
Tomb An Ulmarium An Irishman digging Mud The .
Telltale Smokes Frosty Mornings An Old Grist-Mill A
Distant Elm Autumnal Tints Golden Autumn The
Solvency of Sand-Banks The Fall of the Pine Leaves -
Reflections A Great Fall of Leaves Indian Summer -
Witch-Hazel -The Fallen Pine-Needles The Principal
Stages in the Autumnal Change- The Trainers and their
Band Water-Bugs The Creaking of Crickets A Cheery
Old Man Melvin's Nutting The Easterbrooks Country -
A Talk with Melvin A Repulsive Eel The Poet's Journal
A Connoisseur in Wood Blue Water The Indian
Arrowhead The Horizon Mountains The Chestnut -
Evergreen Ferns Sal Cummings on Kansas Picking Chest-
nuts Two Great Birds Moods and Seasons Chipmunks
and Acorns The Reign of Water The Facts of a Poet's
Life The Littleton Giant A Serene, Elysian Light A
Soaring Hen-Hawk The Growth of an Apple The Lit-
tle Brown Snake Early Morning Thoughts A Dream
Mountain Amusements The Most Profitable Compan-
ion The True Way to crack the Nut of Happiness -
Ruskin and Nature Green Ferns The Brave Skunk-
CHAPTER IV. November, 1857 (ET. 40) 152
Witch-Hazel Polypody Reflections and Reflections -
Pictures and Picture-Frames Nature repairing Damages -
Bloom The Sunset from Pine Hill A Talk with Minott -
The Polypody again The Point of Interest Brooks Clark's
Reminiscences A Flock of Geese A Carpet of Leaves -
The Swamp Pyrus The Boy and the Bound Indian Corn-
Hills Surveying Companions A Boundary Dispute A
Cold Morning A Mouse's Hoard The First Freezing
Day Holden Swamp A Deer Mouse C. Miles Swamp
Desirable Evergreen Trees A Hard-working Irishman -
Sympathy with Nature Life under a Stone The Interesting
in Books Native Soil Some Sportive Bullocks A Wood-
cock Gowing's Swamp The Andromeda Ponds Writ-
ing Poetry November Eat-Heart At Hubbard's Close -
A Fox A Story of a Stutterer Minott's House Frosted
Windows Snares for Partridges A Wildcat's Caterwaul -
The Colors of the Withered Oak Leaves The Growth of a
Rumor The Air full of Geese.
CHAPTER V. December, 1857 (XT. 40) 218
A Red Squirrel in the Tree-Tops The Village Aristocracy-
Staples's Prosperity An Anecdote of Mrs. Hoar Finding
an Old Survey Line The Tracks of Mice in the Snow -
The Appetite for Sound A Bullfrog on the Ice A Crooked
CHAPTER VI. January, 1858 (fr. 40) 233
Genuine and Artificial Words The Maine Woods and the
Concord Wood-Lots The Glow of the Andromeda A Load
of Hay in Winter Snowflakes A Flock of Tree Spar-
rows Lecturing in Lynn Mr. Buffum's Account of the
Sea-Serpent Nahant The Lynn Quarries -The Song of
the White-throated Sparrow A Mild Winter Saw Mill
Brook The Bark of a Fox Improvement and Stagnation
The Fox's Bark again Water-Bugs Poison Sumach -
A Book about Buds The Birch Fungus- True Life -
April Rain A Distant Cloud Minott's Ear for Bird-Notes
Bright-colored Fungi The Pool in Gowing's Swamp -
CHAPTER VII. February, 1858 (Tr. 40) 271
Sounding Gowing's Swamp Ledum latifolium Family
History -'The Heaved-up Pond-Shore The Large Blue-
berry Bushes at Goose Pond An Old Sketch of Concord Jail -
The Earth's Breath A Canada Lynx A Concord Negro
Slave Barberry Wood Pine Cones.
CHAPTER VIII. March, 1858 (XIr. 40) 288
A Flock of Snow Buntings The Slavery of the Press -
Philology and Ethnology An Indian's English Some
Indian Customs The Indian Language A Musquash -
Academy Grants in Maine A Rill of Melted Snow The
Note of the First Flicker Arriving Birds A Spring Wind
View from Fair.Haven Hill The American Yew Swarms
of Gnats The Seriousness of Life Handsome Willow Cat-
kins A Semiriparial Walk A Willow Creel The Spring
Revival of the Fishes and of all Nature Interesting Houses
Gulls and Ducks A Flock of Shore Larks Fox-colored
Sparrows Sheldrakes Hazel Blossoms Spring Gossamer
Painted Tortoises A Large Bird of Prey Croaking
Frogs A Lively Party of Sheldrakes Black Ducks Asleep
The Early Turtles.
CHAPTER IX. April, 1858 (AET. 40) 338
Squirrels' Nests A Little Snapping Turtle An Hour's
Conversation Two Striped Snakes The Foolishness of the
Wise Philosophers The Purple Finch's Song Rana hale-
cina A Curious Kind of Spawn The Gregariousness of
Men Studying Frogs Boys Fishing Frog-Spawn -
The Booming of the Snipe An Old Rats' Nest A Par-
tridge on the Railroad Frog-Spawn Hylodes A Near
View of a Mink Hatching Fishes Hatching Tadpoles -
The Study of Frogs Geese at Fair Haven Pond A Ver-
satile Goldfinch Rice on Lamprey Eels Apron Lichens
Rana palustris Frog-Spawn and Pollywogs A Fish
Hawk Young Fishes The Fish Hawk again Mistaken
CHAPTER X. May, 1858 (XET. 40) 389
Individuality Rana palustris Fish Hawk and Crows -
Frog Hawks Frogs A Fish Talk with Witherell -A
Frog in a Firkin The Notes of Rana palustris The
Thinker A Wood Tortoise Stone-Heaps in the Assabet -
The Bullfrog's Trump Viola pedata Pickerel in a Ditch
Frog-Spawn and Tadpoles A Large Water Adder -
Chestnut Planks Red Squirrel and Maple Keys Thalic-
trum dioicum A Hummingbird in the House A Tree-
climbing Black Snake An Agreeable Rain A Talk with
Puffer A Distant Mountain-Range The Mysteries of
Nature- Swallows over the River- The Home of a Fox
Family The Old Fox A Cat Owl's Nest Young
Birches To Worcester on the Way to New York Quin-
sigamond Pond The Track of a Thunderbolt New York
and Staten Island A Turtle Dove's Nest Emys meleagris
-A Hen-Harrier's Nest- A Wild Mouse- A Sea-Turn.
CHAPTER XI. June, 1858 (A.T. 40) 452
Ascending Monadnock Pitching Camp Fringilla hye-
malis and its Nest Defacers of Mountain-Tops Night-
hawks Dawn on Monadnock The Plants of the Summit
The Rocks of Monadnock Spawn in a Rock Cistern -
The Spruce of the Mountain-Top Lichens on the Mountain
Top -Pools and Bogs A Mountain-Top Walk Clouds and
their Shadows The Descent of the Mountain The Chan-
ging Form of a Mountain The Walk to Winchendon -
Some Handsome White Pines- The Effects of a Fire in a
Swamp Evidence against Marauding Birds A Pout and
her Nest Bullfrogs in Full Blast Breams' Nests -A
Marsh Hawk A Maryland Yellow-Throat's Nest Turtles'
Eggs Ledum A Song Sparrow's Nest Plants growing
in Circles Boys and Birds' Eggs A Handsome Turtle -
More Birds' Eggs A Talk with Mr. Henry Bryant at the
Natural History Rooms- A Tanager's Nest- A Veery's
Nest More Eggs Young Striped Squirrels Two Wood
Pewees' Nests Bathing.
NATURE S DECORATION OF AN OLD PINE
STUMP (page 160) Frontispiece
IN THE EASTERBROOKS COUNTRY 112
CURLY-PATE HILL, ABOVE BATEMAN'S POND 154
WILLOW CATKINS 310
A TURTLE DOVE'S NEST 444
THE JOURNAL OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
AUGUST, 1857 (WT. 40)
Aug. 8. Saturday. Get home at 8.30 A. M.
I find that B. M. Watson sent me from Plymouth,
July 20th, six glow-worms, of which two remain, the
rest having escaped. He says they were found by his
family on the evenings of the 18th and 19th of July.
"They are very scarce, these being the only ones we
have found as yet. They were mostly found on the way
from the barn to James's cottage, under the wild cherry
trees on the right hand, in the grass where it was very
dry, and at considerable distance from each other.
We have had no rain for a month."
Examining them by night, they are about three
quarters of an inch long as they crawl. Looking down
on one, it shows two bright dots near together on the
head, and, along the body, nine transverse lines of
light, succeeded by two more bright dots at the other
extremity, wider apart than the first. There is also
a bright dot on each side opposite the transverse lines.
It is a greenish light, growing more green as the worm
is brought into more light. A slumbering, glowing,
inward light, as if shining for itself inward as much as
outward. The other worm, which was at first curled up
still and emitted a duller light, was one and one twenti-
eth inches in length and also showed two dots of light
only on the forward segment. When stretched out, as
you look down on them, they have a square-edged look,
like a row of buns joined together. Such is the ocular
illusion. But whether stretched out or curled up, they
look like some kind of rare and precious gem, so regu-
larly marked, far more beautiful than a uniform mass
of light would be.
Examining by day, I found the smallest to be seven
eighths to one inch long, and the body about one sixth
of an inch wide and from one thirteenth to one twelfth
of an inch deep, convex above, pointed at head, broader
at tail; head about one twentieth of an inch wide.
.Yet these worms were more nearly linear, or of a uniform
breadth (being perhaps broadest at forward extremity),
than the Lampyre represented in my French book,
which is much the broadest behind and has also two
rows of dots down the back. They have six light-brown
legs within a quarter of an inch of the forward extremity.
The worm is composed of twelve segments or overlap-
ping scales, like the abdominal plates of a snake, and
has a slight elastic projection .(?) beneath at tail. It
has also six short antennae-like projections from the
head, the two outer on each side the longest, the two
inner very short. The general color above was a pale
brownish yellow or buff; the head small and dark-
brown; the antennae chestnut and white; white or
whitish on sides and beneath. You could see a faint
dorsal line. They were so transparent that you could
see the internal motions when looking down on them.
I kept them in a sod, supplying a fresh one each day.
They were invariably found underneath it by day,
next the floor, still and curled up in a ring, with the
head within or covered by the tail. Were apt to be rest-
less on being exposed to the light. One that got away
in the yard was found again ten feet off and down
What kind are these?
In the account of the Glow-worm in Rees's Cyclo-
paedia it is said, "The head is small, flat, hard, and
black, and sharp towards the mouth; it has short an-
tennae, and six moderately long legs; the body is flat and
is composed of twelve rings, whereas the body of the
male consists only of five; it is of a dusky color, with a
streak of white down the back."
Knapp, in "Journal of a Naturalist," speaks of "the
luminous caudal spot" of the Lampyris noctiluca.1
Speaking with Dr. Reynolds about the phosphor-
escence which I saw in Maine, etc., etc., he said that
he had seen the will-o'-the-wisp, a small blue flame,
like burning alcohol, a few inches in diameter, over a
bog, which moved when the bog was shaken.
Aug. 9. Sunday. I see the blackbirds flying in
flocks (which did not when I went away July 20th)
and hear the shrilling of my alder locust.
1 Vide Sept. 16th for an account of another kind. Vide Jan. 15,
Aug. 10. Monday. P. M.- In Clintonia Swamp I
see a remarkable yellow fungus about the base of some
grass growing in a tuft. It is a jelly, shaped like a
bodkin or a pumpkin's stigma, two inches long, in-
vesting the base of the grass blades, a quarter to a half
inch thick, tapering to the grass each way and covered
with a sort of moist meal. It was strong-scented and
Cat-tail commonly grows in the hollows and boggy
places where peat has been dug.
How meanly and miserably we live for the most part!
We escape fate continually by the skin of our teeth, as
the saying is. We are practically desperate. But as
every man, in respect to material wealth, aims to be-
come independent or wealthy, so, in respect to our
spirits and imagination, we should have some spare
capital and superfluous vigor, have some margin and
leeway in which to move. What kind of gift is life
unless we have spirits to enjoy it and taste its true
flavor? if, in respect to spirits, we are to be forever
cramped and in debt? In our ordinary estate we have
not, so to speak, quite enough air to breathe, and this
poverty qualifies our piety; but we should have more
than enough and breathe it carelessly. Poverty is the
rule. We should first of all be full of vigor like a strong
horse, and beside have the free and adventurous spirit
of his driver; i. e., we should have such a reserve of
elasticity and strength that we may at any time be able
to put ourselves at the top of our speed and go beyond
our ordinary limits, just as the invalid hires a horse.
Have the gods sent us into this world, to this muster,
1857] JEWELRY, FALSE AND TRUE
- to do chores, hold horses, and the like, and not given
us any spending money ?
The poor and sick man keeps a horse, often a hostler;
but the well man is a horse to himself, is horsed on
himself; he feels his own oats. Look at the other's
shanks. How spindling! like the timber of his gig!
First a sound and healthy life, and then spirits to live
I hear the neighbors complain sometimes about
the peddlers selling their help false jewelry, as if they
themselves wore true jewelry; but if their help pay
as much for it as they did for theirs, then it is just as
true jewelry as theirs, just as becoming to them and no
more; for unfortunately it is the cost of the article and
not the merits of the wearer that is considered. The
money is just as well spent, and perhaps better earned.
I don't care how much false jewelry the peddlers sell,
nor how many of the eggs which you steal are rotten.
What, pray, is true jewelry ? The hardened tear of a
diseased clam, murdered in its old age. Is that fair play?
If not, it is no jewel. The mistress wears this in her
ear, while her help has one made of paste which you
cannot tell from it. False jewelry! Do you know of
any shop where true jewelry can be bought? I always
look askance at a jeweller and wonder what church he
can belong to.
I heard some ladies the other day laughing about
some one of their help who had helped herself to a real
hoop from off a hogshead for her gown. I laughed too,
but which party do you think I laughed at? Is n't
hogshead as good a word as crinoline ?
Aug. 11. Tuesday. Red cohosh berries well ripe in
front of Hunt's, perhaps a week or more, -a round,
conical spike, two and a half inches long by one and
three quarters, of about thirty cherry-red berries. The
berries oblong, seven sixteenths of an inch by six six-
teenths, with a seam on one side, on slender pedicels
about five eighths of an inch long.
Aug. 13. J. Farmer saw some days ago a black-
headed gull, between a kingfisher and common gull in
size, sailing lightly on Bateman's Pond. It was very
white beneath and bluish-white above. Corallorhiza
multiflora and Desmodium rotundifolium, how long?
Aug. 15. Lycopodium lucidulum, how long?
Aug. 16. Myriophyllum athbiguum, apparently var.
limosum, except that it is not nearly linear-leafed but
pectinate, well out how long?
Aug. 20. Thursday. P. M. To Hubbard's
The hillside at Clintonia Swamp is in some parts
quite shingled with the rattlesnake-plantain (Good-
yera pubescens) leaves overlapping one another. The
flower is now apparently in its prime. As I stand there,
I hear a peculiar sound which I mistake for a wood-
pecker's tapping, but I soon see a cuckoo hopping near
suspiciously or inquisitively, at length within twelve
feet, from time to time uttering a hard, dry note, very
much like a woodpecker tapping a dead dry tree rapidly,
1857] A CUCKOO 9
its full clear white throat and breast toward me, and
slowly lifting its tail from time to time. Though some-
what allied to that throttled note it makes by night, it
was quite different from that.
I go along by the hillside footpath in the woods about
Hubbard's Close. The Goodyera repens grows behind
the spring where I used to sit, amid the dead pine leaves.
Its leaves partly concealed in the grass. It is just done
Helianthus, strumosus-like, at the south end of
Stow's cold pool; how long?
Aug. 22. Saturday. Channing has brought me
from Plymouth and Watson Drosera filiformis, just
out of bloom, from Great South Pond, Solidago tenui-
folia in bloom, Sabbatia chloroides, and Coreopsis
Edward Hoar shows me Lobelia Kalmii, which he
gathered in flower in Hopkinton about the 18th of July.
(I found the same on the East Branch and the Penob-
scot); staphylea (in fruit) from Northampton, plucked
within a week or so (Bigelow says it grows in Weston);
also the leaves of a tree growing in Windsor, Vt., which
they call the pepperidge, quite unlike our tupelo. Is
it not the Celtis crassifolia? He says he found the
Uvularia perfoliata on the Stow road, he thinks within
Aug. 23. P. M. To Conantum.
Hear the mole cricket nowadays. Collinsonia (very
little left) not out.
Aug. 24. A. M. Ride to Austin Bacon's, Na-
On the left hand, just this side the centre of Wayland,
I measure the largest, or northernmost, of two large
elms standing in front of an old house. At four feet
from the ground, where, looking from one side, is the
smallest place between the ground and the branches, it
is seventeen feet in circumference, but there is a bulge
on the north side for five feet upward. At five feet it
divides to two branches, and each of these soon divides
A. Bacon showed me a drawing apparatus which he
said he invented, very simple and convenient, also micro-
scopes and many glasses for them which he made.
Showed me an exotic called "cypress," which he said
had spread from the cemetery over the neighboring
fields. Did not know what it was. Is it not Euphorbia
Cyparissias ? and does it not grow by the north road-
side east of Jarvis's ?
I measured a scarlet oak northeast of his house, on
land of the heirs of John Bacon, which at seven feet
from the ground, or the smallest place below the
branches, was ten feet eight inches in circumference,
at one foot from ground sixteen and one fourth feet in
circumference. It branched at twelve feet into three.
Its trunk tapered or lessened very gradually and regu-
larly from the ground to the smallest place, after the
true Eddystone Lighthouse fashion. It has a large and
handsome top, rather high than spreading (spreads
about three and a half rods), but the branches often
I Also at J. Moore's front yard.
1857] WITH AUSTIN BACON IN NATICK 11
dead at the ends. This has grown considerably since
Emerson measured; videe his account. Bacon says that
E. pronounced it the largest oak in the State.
Showed us an elm on the north side of the same field,
some ten feet in circumference, which he said was as
large in 1714, his grandmother having remembered it
nearly so long. There was a dead Rhus radicans on it
two inches in diameter.
In the meadow south of this field, we looked for the
Drosera filiformis, which formerly grew there, but could
not find it. Got a specimen of very red clover, said to
be from the field of Waterloo, in front of the house near
the schoolhouse on the hill. Returned eastward over a
bare hill with some walnuts on it, formerly called Pine
Hill, from whence a very good view of the new town
of Natick. On the northeast base of this hill Bacon
pointed out to me what he called Indian corn-hills,
in heavy, moist pasture ground where had been a pine
wood. The hillocks were in irregular rows four feet
apart which ran along the side of the hill, and were much
larger than you would expect after this lapse of time.
I was confident that if Indian, they could not be very
old, perhaps not more than a century or so, for such
could never have been made with the ancient Indian
hoes, clamshells, stones, or the like, but with
the aid of plows and white men's hoes. Also pointed
out to me what he thought the home site of an Indian
squaw marked by a buckthorn bush by the wall.
These hillocks were like tussocks with lichens thick
on them, and B. thought that the rows were not run-
ning as a white man['s] with furrow.
We crossed the road which runs east and west, and,
in the low ground on' the south side, saw a white oak
and a red maple, each forty or fifty feet high, which had
fairly grown together for three or more feet upward
from the ground. Also, near by, a large white ash which
though healthy bore a mark or scar where a branch had
been broken off and stripped down the trunk. B. said that
one of his ancestors, perhaps his grandfather, before
the Revolution, went to climb this tree, and reached up
and took hold of this branch, which he stripped down,
and this was the scar!
Under the dead bark of this tree saw several large
crickets of a rare kind. They had a peculiar naked and
tender look, with branched legs and a rounded incurved
Red cohosh grows along a wall in low ground close by.
We ascended a ridge hill northeast of this, or east by
south of Bacon's house, on the north end of which Squaw
Poquet, as well as her father, who was a powwow,
before her, lived. Bacon thought that powwows com-
monly withdrew at last to the northeast side of a hill
and lived alone. We saw the remains of apple trees
in the woods, which she had planted. B. thought apple
trees did not now grow so large in New England as
formerly, that they only grew to be one foot in diameter
and then began to decay, whereas they formerly grew
to be two or three and even sometimes four feet in
The Corallorhiza multiflora was common in these
woods, and out.
The Galium circcEzans leaves taste very much like
1857] WITH AISTIN BACON IN NATICK 13
licorice and, according to B., produce a great flow of
water, also make you perspire and are good for a cold.
We came down northward to the Boston and Worces-
ter turnpike, by the side of which the Malaxis liliifolia'
grows, though we did not find it.
We waded into Coos Swamp on the south side the
turnpike to find the ledum, but did not succeed. B. is
sure it grows there. This is a large swamp with a small
pond, or pond-hole, in the midst and the usfial variety
of shrubs. I noticed small spruces, high blueberry, the
water andromeda, rhodora, Vaccinium dumosum (hairy)
ripe, Kalmia glauca, Decodon'verticillatus, etc. B. says
that the arbor-vitae grows indigenously in pretty large
patches in Needham; that Cochituate Pond is only
between three and four miles long, or five including
the meadows that are flowed, yet it has been called even
ten miles long.
B. gave me a stone with very pretty black markings
like jungermannias, from a blasting on the aqueduct
in Natick. Some refer it to electricity.
According to Guizot at the Montreal meeting the
other day, Mt. Washington is 6285 feet above high-
water mark at Portland.
Aug. 25. Tuesday. P. M. To Hill and meadow.
Plucked a Lilium Canadense at three-ribbed golden-
rod wall, six and eight twelfths feet high, with a pyramid
of seed-vessels fourteen inches long by nine wide, the
first an irregular or diagonal whorl of six, surmounted
by a whorl of three. The upper two whorls of leaves
are diagonal or scattered. It agrees with Gray's L. Can-
adense except ih size, also with G.'s superbum except
that the leaves of my specimen are rough on the edges
and veins beneath (but I have not the flowers !). Bigelow
says that the leaves of the L. superbum are twice as
long as the internodes. These are only as long.
This, as well as most that I saw on the Penobscot, is
probably only a variety of the L. Canadense.
Aug. M6. Wednesday. P. M. Up Assabet with
Bradford and Hoar.
B. tells me he found the Malaxis liliifolia on Kineo.
Saw there a tame gull as large as a hen, brown dove-
color. A lumberer called some timber "frowy." B.
has found Cassia Chamacrista by the side of the back
road between Lincoln and Waltham, about two miles
this side of Waltham.
Aug. 27. Thursday. P. M.-To Conantum, high-
Detected a, to me, new kind of high blackberry on
the edge of the cliff beyond Conant's wall on Lee's
ground, a long-peduncled (or pedicelled), leafy-
racemed (somewhat panicled), erect blackberry. It has
the aspect of R. Canadensis become erect, three or four
feet high. The racemes (or panicles ?) leafy, with simple
ovate and broad-lanceolate leaves; loose, few flowered
(ten or twelve); peduncles (or pedicels) one to two or
more inches long, often branched, with bracts midway,
in fruit, at least, drooping. Perhaps the terminal flowers
open first. Stem angular and furrowed much like that
of R. villosus, leaf-stalks more prickly; leaves broader,
1857] EMERSON AT NAUSHON
thinner, and less pointed, smooth above; beneath, as
well as young branches, much smoother than R. vil-
losus; lower leaves ternate and, if I remember, some-
times quinate. Berries of good size, globular, of very
few, large grains, very glossy, of a lively flavor, when
young of a peculiar light pink; sepals less recurved
when ripe than those of villosus. It is apparently
Bigelow's R. frondosus made a variety by Gray; but
Aug. 28. Polygonum Pennsylvanicum by bank, how
R. W. E. says that he saw Asclepias tuberosa abundant
and in bloom on Naushon last week; also a sassafras
stump three feet across. The deer escape by running
to the mainland, and in winter cross on the ice. The
last winter they lost about one hundred and fifty sheep,
whose remains have never been found. Perhaps they
were carried off on the ice by the sea. Looking through
a glass, E. saw vessels sailing near Martha's Vineyard
with full sails, yet the water about them appeared per-
fectly smooth, and reflected the vessels. They thought
this reflection a mirage, i. e. from a haze.
As we were rifling by Deacon Farrar's lately, E. Hoar
told me in answer to my questions, that both the young
Mr. Farrars, who had now come to man's estate, were
excellent young men, their father, an old man of
about seventy, once cut and corded seven cords of wood
in one day, and still cut a double swath at haying time,
and was a man of great probity, and to show the
Unusual purity of one of them, at least, he said that, his
brother Frisbie, who had formerly lived there, inquiring
what had become of a certain hired man whom he used
to know, young Mr. Farrar told him that he was gone,
" that the truth was he one day let drop a prophane word,
and after that he thought that he could not have him
about, and so he got rid of him." It was as if he had
dropped some filthy thing on the premises, an intolerable
nuisance, only to be abated by removing the source of it.
I should like to hear as good news of the New England
farmers generally. It to some extent accounts for the
vigor of the father and the successful farming of the
I read the other day in the Tribune that a man ap-
parently about seventy, and smart at that, went to the
police in New York and asked for a lodging, having been
left by the cars or steamboat when on his way to Con-
necticut. When they asked his age, native place, etc.,
he said his name was McDonald; he was born in Scot-
land in 1745, came to Plymouth, Mass., in 1760, was
in some battles in the Revolution, in which he lost an
eye; had a son eighty-odd years old, etc.; but, seeing
a reporter taking notes, he was silent. Since then I
heard that an old man named McDonald, one hundred
and twelve years old, had the day before passed through
Concord and was walking to Lexington, and I said at
once he must be a humbug. When I went to the post-
office to-night (August 28), G. Brooks asked me if I
saw him and said that he heard that he told a correct
story, except he said that he remembered Braddock's
defeat! He had noticed that Dr. Heywood's old house,
the tavern, was gone since he was here in the Revolution.
I [AUG. 28
1857] A VETERAN OF THE REVOLUTION 17
Just then Davis, the postmaster, asked us to look at a
letter he had received. It was from a Dr. Curtis of
Newton asking if this McDonald belonged about Con-
cord as he said, and saying that his story appeared to
be a correct one. Davis had never heard of him, and, as
we presumed him to be a humbug, we advised Davis
to write accordingly. But I afterward remembered
reading nearly a year ago of a man of this name and
age in St. Louis, who said he had married a wife in
Concord before the Revolution, and then began to
think that his story might be all true. So it seems that
a veteran of a hundred and twelve, after an absence of
eighty-seven years, may come back to the town where
he married his wife in order to hunt up his relatives,
and not only have no success, but be pronounced a
Aug. 29. Saturday. P. M. -To Owl-Nest Swamp
Gerardia tenuifolia, a new plant to Concord, appar-
ently in prime, at entrance to Owl-Nest Path and
generally in that neighborhood. Also on Conantum
height above orchard, two or three days later. This
species grows on dry ground, or higher than the pur-
purea, and is more delicate. Got some ferns in the
swamp and a small utricularia not in bloom, appar-
ently different from that of Pleasant Meadow videe
I [These last two paragraphs appear in the manuscript journal
under date of July 28, having been written at the time when he
was writing up his recent Maine excursion. The date in the second
paragraph indicates this as their proper place.]
August 18). The proserpinaca leaves are very interest-
ing in the water, so finely cut. Polygonum arifolium
in bloom how long?
We waded amid the proserpinaca south of the wall
and stood on a small bed of sphagnum, three or four feet
in diameter, which rose above the surface. Some kind
of water rat had its nest or retreat in this wet sphagnum,
and being disturbed, swam off to the shore from under
us. He was perhaps half as large again as a mole, or
nearly, and somewhat grayish. The large and broad-
leafed sium which grows [here] is, judging from its
seed, the same with the common. I find the calla going
to seed, but still the seed is green. That large, coarse,
flag-like reed is apparently Carex comosa; now gone
to seed, though only one is found with seed still on it,
The Indian Rock, further west, is upright, or over-
hanging two feet, and a dozen feet high. Against this
the Indians camped. It has many very large specimens
of the Umbilicaria Dillenii, some six or eight inches
in diameter, dripping with moisture to-day, like leather
aprons hanging to the side of the rock, olive-green (this
moist day), curled under on the edges and showing the
upper side; but when dry they curl upward and show
the crocky under sides. Near by, north, is a rocky ridge,
on the east slope of which the Corallorhiza multiflora
is very abundant. Call that Corallorhiza Rocks.
Aug. 30. Sunday. P. M. To Conantum.
Small botrychium, not long. The flower of Cicuta
maculata smells like the leaves of the golden senecio.
Collinsonia has been out apparently three or four days.
Polygonum tenue at Bittern Cliff, how long ?
Aug. 31. Monday. P. M. To Flint's Pond.
An abundance of fine high blackberries behind
Britton's old camp on the Lincoln road, now in their
prime there, which have been overlooked. Is it not
our richest fruit ?
Our first muskmelon to-day.
Lycopodium complanatum out, how long ? I have seen
for several days amphicarpsea with perfectly white
flowers, in dense clusters.
At Flint's Pond I waded along the edge eight or
ten rods to the wharf rock, carrying my shoes and
stockings. Was surprised to see on the bottom and
washing up on to the shore many little farinaceous roots
or tubers like very small potatoes, in strings. I saw
these at every step for more than a dozen rods and
thought they must have been washed up from deeper
waters. Examining very closely, I traced one long
string through the sandy soil to the root of a ground-nut
which grew on the edge of the bank, and afterwards saw
many more, whose tuberous roots lying in the sand
were washed bare, the pond being unusually high. I
could have gathered quarts of them. I picked up one
string floating loose, about eighteen inches long, with
as usual a little greenness and vitality at one end, which
had thirteen nuts on it about the size of a walnut or
smaller. I never saw so many ground-nuts before, and
this made on me the impression of an unusual fertility.
Bathing there, I see a small potamogeton, very com-
20 JOURNAL [AUG. 31
mon there, wholly immersed and without floating leaves,
which rises erect from the sandy bottom in curving
rows four or five feet long. On digging I find it to rise
from a subterranean shoot which is larger than any
part above ground. It may be one I have, whose float-
ing leaves the high water has destroyed or prevented.
The leaves of it have small bits of that fresh-water
sponge, so strong-scented, on them.
Sept. 1. Tuesday. P. M.- To Fair Haven Pond
Landing at Bittern Cliff, I see that fine purple grass;
how long? At Baker's shore, I at length distinguished
fairly the Sagittaria simplex, which I have known so long,
the small one with simple leaves. But this year there
are very few of them, being nearly drowned out by the
On the west side of Fair Haven Pond, an abundance
of the Utricularia purpurea and of the whorled, etc.,
whose finely dissected leaves are a rich sight in the
water. Again I observe that the heart-leaf, as it decays,
preserves fresh and green for some time within, or in
its centre, a finely dissected green leaf, suggesting that it
has passed through this stage in its development. Im-
mersed leaves often present this form, but [it] seems
that even emersed ones remember it. High black-
berries are still in their prime on Lee's Cliff, but huckle-
berries soft and wormy, many of them.
I have finally settled for myself the question of the
two varieties of Polygonum amphibium. I think there
are not even two varieties. As formerly, I observe
again to-day a Polygonum amphibium extending from
the shore six feet into the water. In the water, of course,
the stem is prostrate, rank, and has something ser-
pent-like in its aspect. From the shore end rise erect
flowering branches whose leaves are more or less
roughish and prickly on the midrib beneath. On the
water end the leaves are long-petioled, heart-shaped,
and perfectly smooth. Vide a specimen pressed. I
have seen this same plant growing erect in the driest
soil, by the roadside, and it ranges from this quite into
Sept. 2. Wednesday. P. M. To Yellow Birches.
Measured the thorn at Yellow Birch Swamp. At one
foot from ground it is a foot and ten inches in circum-
ference. The first branch is at two feet seven inches.
The tree spreads about eighteen feet. The height is
about seventeen feet.
A yellow birch some rods north was, at three feet from
ground, four feet plus in circumference. A second,
northeast of it, was, at four feet, five feet five inches
in circumference. It branched at eight feet, the branches
extending north two and a third rods, but south only
one and a half. Was some fifty or sixty feet high. The
third, or largest, yellow birch, at the cellar, was, at
three feet from the ground on the inside or at the
ground on the outside, just below the branches, ten
feet nine inches in circumference. It divides to three
branches at ground on the upper side, and these al-
most immediately to three more, so low and horizontal
that you can easily step into it. It extends two rods
east and one west, the ends of the branches coming
down to height of head all round, nearly. It is about
1857] A LARGE RHUS RADICANS
two thirds as high as wide, or thirty-three feet high.
Looking from the west, of an irregular diamond shape
resting on the ground. The roots inclose some cellar
stones. All these birches were measured at the smallest
place between the ground and branches. Large yellow
birches branch low and form a dense broom-like head
of many long tapering branches.
In the botrychium swamp, where the fever-bush is
the prevailing underwood, I see a Rhus radicans run-
ning up a buttonwood which is some forty feet high.
It first makes a complete circle about it horizontally
at the ground, then goes winding up it in a serpentine
manner on the southwest (?) side, thirty feet at least,
or as far as I could see, beginning to put out a few twigs
at seven or eight feet. It is a vine one and a half and
two inches wide, somewhat flattened, clinging close
and flat to the tree by innumerable brown fibres which
invest itself and adhere to the bark on each side in
a thick web. You can hardly tell if it is alive or dead
without] looking upward. Remembering that it was
poisonous to some to handle, it had altogether a venom-
ous look. It made me think of a venomous beast of
prey which had sprung upon the tree. and had it in its
clutches, as the glutton is said to cling to the deer
while it sucks its blood. It had fastened on it, as a leop-
ard or panther on a deer and there was no escape. It
was not married to the buttonwood, as the vine to the
poplar. I saw a still larger one the other day in Natick
on an elm.
Some bass trees blossomed sparingly after all, for
,I see some fruit.
Sept. 3. P. M. Rode to Prospect Hill, Waltham.
The Polygonum Pennsylvanicum there. One Chima-
phila maculata on the hill. Tufts of Woodsia Ilvensis.
Hedyotis longifolia still flowering commonly, near the
top, in a thin wood. Gerardia tenuifolia by the road in
Lincoln, and a slate-colored snowbird back.
Sept. 4. P. M. To Batcman's Pond.
Rudbeckia laciniata (?) by Dodge's Brook, north
of the road; how long? Cornus sericea berries begin
to ripen. The leaves of the light-colored spruce in the
spruce swamp are erect like the white!
Penetrating through the thicket of that swamp, I
see a great many very straight and slender upright
shoots, the slenderest and tallest that I ever saw. They
are the Prinos levigatus. I cut one and brought it
home in a ring around my neck,- it was flexible
enough for that,- and found it to be seven and a
half feet long and quite straight, eleven fortieths of an
inch in diameter at the ground and three fortieths [in]
diameter at the other end, only the last foot or so of
this year's growth. It had a light-grayish bark, rough-
dotted. Generally they. were five or six feet high and
not bigger than a pipe-stem anywhere. This comes of
its growing in dense dark swamps, where it makes a
good part of the underwood.
At the cleft rock by the hill just west of this swamp,
- call it Cornel Rock, I found apparently Aspi-
dium cristatum (?), q. v. That is an interesting spot.
There is the handsomest and most perfect Cornus
circinata there that I know, now apparently its fruit
AT BATEMAN'S POND
in prime, hardly light-blue but delicate bluish-white.
It is the richest-looking of the cornels, with its large
round leaf and showy cymes; a slender bush seven
or eight feet high. There is quite a collection of rare
plants there, petty morel, Thalictrum dioicum, witch-
hazel, etc., Rhus radicans, maple-leaved viburnum,
polypody, Polygonum dumetorum, anychia. There was
a strawberry vine falling over the perpendicular face
of the rock, or more than perpendicular, which
hung down dangling in the air five feet, not yet reach-
ing the bottom, with leaves at intervals of fifteen inches.
Various rocks scattered about in these woods rising
just to the surface with smooth rounded surfaces,
showing a fine stratification on its edges.
The sides of Cornus florida Ravine at Bateman's
Pond are a good place for ferns. There is a Woodsia
Ilvensis, a new one to Concord. Petty morel in the
ravine, and large cardinal-flowers.
I see prenanthes radical leaf turned pale-yellow.
Arum berries ripe.
Already, long before sunset, I feel the dew falling
in that cold calla swamp.
Sept. 5. Saturday. I now see those brown shaving-
like stipules 1 of the white pine leaves, which are fall-
ing, i. e. the stipules, and caught in cobwebs.
River falls suddenly, having been high all summer.
Sept. 6. Sunday. P. M. To Assabet, west bank.
Turned off south at Derby's Bridge and walked
through a long field, half meadow, half upland. Soap-
wort gentian, out not long, and dwarf cornel again.
There is a handsome crescent-shaped meadow on this
side, opposite Harrington's. A good-sized black oak
in the pasture by the road half-way between the school-'
house and Brown's. Walked under Brown's hemlocks
by the railroad. How commonly hemlocks grow on
the north slope of a hill near its base, with only bare
reddened ground beneath! This bareness probably
is not due to any peculiar quality in the hemlocks, for
I observe that it is the same under pitch and white
pines when equally thick. I suspect that it is owing
more to the shade than to the fallen leaves. I see one
of those peculiarly green locusts with long and slender
legs on a grass stem, which are often concealed by their
color. What green, herbaceous, graminivorous ideas
he must have! I wish that my thoughts were as season-
able as his! Some haws begin to be ripe.
We go along under the hill and woods north of rail-
road, west of Lord's land, about to the west of the swamp
and to the Indian ditch. I see in the swamp black choke-
berries twelve feet high at least and in fruit.
C. says that they use high blueberry wood for thole-
pins on the Plymouth ponds.
I observe to-day, away at the south end of our dry
garden, a moist and handsome Rana halecina. It is
the only frog that I ever see in such localities. He is
quite a traveller. A very cool day.
Sept. 7. Monday. P. M. To Dodge Brook Wood.
It occurred to me some weeks ago that the river-banks
[SEPT. 6 *
1857] LARCH TREES AND A TUPELO
were not quite perfect. It is too late then, when the
mikania is in bloom, because the pads are so much
eaten then. Our first slight frost in some places this
morning. Northwest wind to-day and cool weather;
such weather as we have not had for a long time, a
new experience, which arouses a corresponding breeze
in us. Rhus venenata berries are whitening. Its leaves
appear very fresh, of a rich, dark, damp green, and very
little eaten by insects.
Go round by the north side of Farmer's (?) Wood,
turn southeast into the shut-in field, and thence to
Spencer Brook, a place for hawks. Bidens chrysan-
themoides there; how long? There are three or four
larch trees near the east edge of the meadows here.
One measures two feet and seven inches in circumfer-
ence at six feet from ground; begins to branch there,
but is dead up to ten feet from ground, where its diam-
eter is apparently about twelve feet; and from this
it tapers regularly to the top, which is about forty-five
feet from the ground, forming a regular, sharp pyra-
mid, yet quite airy and thin, so that you could see a
hawk through it pretty well. These are young and
SMeasured that large tupelo behind Merriam's, which
now is covered with green fruit, and its leaves begin to
redden. It is about thirty feet high, with a round head
and equally broad near the ground. At one foot from
the ground, it is four and a third feet in circumference;
at seven feet, three and a third in circumference. The
principal [branches] diverge at about fifteen or sixteen
feet from the ground and tend upward; the lower
ones are small and partly dead. The lowest, at about
thirteen or fourteen feet from the ground, are three
or four inches in diameter, and first grow out hori-
zontally about six feet, then, making an abrupt angle,
straggle downward nearly to the ground, fifteen feet
from the tree. This leaves the tree remarkably open
in the middle.
Returning to my boat, at the white maple, I see a
small round flock of birds, perhaps blackbirds, dart
through the air, as thick as a charge of shot, now
comparatively thin, with regular intervals of sky be-
tween them, like the holes in the strainer of a water-
ing-pot, now dense and dark, as if closing up their
ranks when they roll over one another and stoop down-
Sept. 9. Wednesday. P. M. To the Hill for white
Very few trees have any. I can only manage small
ones, fifteen or twenty feet high, climbing till I can
reach the dangling green pickle-like fruit in my right
hand, while I hold to the main stem with my left. The
cones are now all flowing with pitch, and my hands
are soon so covered with it that I cannot easily cast
down the cones where I would, they stick to my hands
so. I cannot touch the basket, but carry it on my arm;
nor can I pick up my coat, which I have taken off, un-
less with my teeth, or else I kick it up and catch it on
my arm. Thus I go from tree to tree, from time to
time rubbing my hands in brooks and mud-holes, in
the hope of finding something that will remove pitch
1857] GATHERING PINE CONES 29
like grease, but in vain. It is the stickiest work I ever
did. I do not see how the squirrels that gnaw them off
and then open them scale by scale keep their paws
and whiskers clean. They must know of, or possess,
some remedy for pitch that we know nothing of. How
fast I could collect cones, if I could only contract with
a family of squirrels to cut them off for me! Some are
already brown and dry and partly open, but these
commonly have hollow seeds and are worm-eaten. The
cones collected in my chamber have a strong spiritu-
ous scent, almost rummy, or like a molasses hogshead,
agreeable to some. They are far more effectually pro-
tected than the chestnut by its bur.
Going into the low sprout-land north of the Sam
Wheeler orchard, where is a potato-field in new ground,
I see the effects of the frost of the last two or three nights.
The ferns and tall erechthites showing its pappus are
drooping and blackened or imbrowned on all sides,
also Eupatorium pubescens, tender young Rhus glabra,
etc., and the air is full of the rank, sour smell of freshly
withering vegetation. It is a great change produced
in one frosty night. What a sudden period put to the
reign of summer!
On my way home, caught one of those little red-
bellied snakes in the road, where it was rather slug-
gish, as usual. Saw another in the road a week or two
ago. The whole length was eight inches; tail alone,
one and four fifths. The plates about one hundred
and nineteen; scales forty and upward. It was a dark
ash-color above, with darker longitudinal lines, light
brick-red beneath. There were three triangular buff
spots just behind the head, one above and one each
side. It is apparently Coluber amenus, and perhaps
this is the same with Storer's occipito-maculatus. .
C. brings me a small red hypopytis. It has a faint
sweet, earthy, perhaps checkerberry, scent, like that
sweet mildewy fragrance of the earth in spring.
Aunts have just had their house shingled, and amid
the rubbish I see sheets of the paper birch bark, which
have lain on the roof so long. The common use of
this formerly shows that it must have been abundant
Sept. 10. Thursday. P. M. To Cardinal Ditch
Cardinal-flower, nearly done.' Beach plum, almost
ripe. Squash vines on the Great Fields, generally killed
and' blackened by frost (though not so much.in our
garden), revealing the yellow fruit, perhaps prema-
turely. Standing by Peter's well, the white maples by
the bank of the river a mile off now give a rosaceous
tinge to the edge of the meadow. I see lambkill ready
to bloom a second time. Saw it out on the 20th; how
Sept. 11. Friday. Up railroad and to Clamshell.
Solidago puberula apparently in prime, with the S.
strict, near gerardia oaks. Red choke-berry ripe;
how long? On the east edge of Dennis Swamp, where
I saw the strange warbler once.
To my surprise I find, by the black oaks at the sand-
hole cast of Clamshell, the Solidago rigida, apparently
in prime or a little past. The heads and rays were so
large I thought at first it must be a hieracium. The
rays are from ten to fourteen, and three to three and a
half fortieths of an inch wide. The middle leaves are
clasping by a heart-shaped base. The heads are seven
fortieths of an inch wide and seventeen fortieths long,
in recurved panicles, these. Eaton says truly, Scales
of the calyx round-obtuse, nerved, membranous at the
My old S. stricta (early form) must be S. arguta
var. juncea. It is now done.
Sept. 12. Saturday. P. M. -To Owl Swamp
In an open part of the swamp, started a very large
wood frog, which gave one leap and squatted still. I
put down my finger, and, though it shrank a little at
first, it permitted me to stroke it as long as I pleased.
Having passed, it occurred to me to return and culti-
vate its acquaintance. To my surprise, it allowed me
to slide my hand under it and lift it up, while it squatted
cold and moist on the middle of my palm, panting natu-
rally. I brought it close to my eye and examined it.
It was very beautiful seen thus nearly, not the dull
dead-leaf color which I had imagined, but its back was
like burnished bronze armor defined by a varied line
on each side, where, as it seemed, the plates of armor
united. It had four or five dusky bars which matched
exactly when the legs were folded, showing that the
painter applied his brush to the animal when in that
position, and reddish-orange soles to its delicate feet.
A WOOD FROG
There was a conspicuous dark-brown patch along the
side of the head, whose upper edge passed directly
through the eye horizontally, just above its centre,
so that the pupil and all below were dark and the up-
per portion of the iris golden. I have since taken up
another in the same way.1
Round-leaved cornel berries nearly all fallen.
Crossing east through the spruce swamp, I think
that I saw a female redstart.
What is that running herbaceous vine which, forms
a dense green mat a rod across at the bottom of the
swamp northwest of Corallorhiza Rock? 2 It is of
the same form, stem and leaves, with the more brown
hairy and woolly linnuea. It also grows in the swamp
by the beech trees in Lincoln.
Sept. 13. Sunday. Nabalus Fraseri, top of Cliffs,
- a new plant, yet in prime and not long out. The
nabalus family generally, apparently now in prime.
Sept. 16. A. M. To Great Yellow Birch, with the
Solidago latifolia in prime at Botrychium Swamp.
Barberries very handsome now. See boys gathering
them in good season. Some fever-bush berries already
ripe. Watson has brought me apparently Artemisia
vulgaris, growing naturally close to Austin's house in
Lincoln; hardly in bloom.
Walked through that beautiful soft white pine grove
1 Indeed they can generally be treated so. Some are reddish, as
burnished copper. 2 It is chrysosplenium.
1857] A BEAUTIFUL PINE GROVE
on the west of the road in John Flint's pasture. These
trees are large, but there is ample space between them,
so that the ground is left grassy. Great pines two or
more feet in diameter branch sometimes within two
feet of the ground on each side, sending out large
horizontal branches on which you can sit. Like great
harps on which the wind makes music. There is no
finer tree. The different stages of its soft glaucous
foliage completely concealing the trunk and branches
are separated by dark horizontal lines of shadow, the
flakes of pine foliage, like a pile of light fleeces.
I see green and closed cones beneath, which the squir-
rels have thrown down. On the trees many are already
open. Say within a week have begun. In one small
wood, all the white pine cones are on the ground, gen-
erally unopened, evidently freshly thrown down by the
squirrels, and then the greater part have already been
stripped. They begin at the base of the cone, as with
the pitch pine. It is evident that they have just been
very busy throwing down the white pine cones in all
woods. Perhaps they have stored up the seeds sepa-
rately. This they can do before chestnut burs open.
Watson gave me three glow-worms which he found
by the roadside in Lincoln last night. They exhibit a
greenish light, only under the caudal extremity, and
intermittingly, or at will. As often as I touch one in a
dark morning, it stretches and shows its light for a
moment, only under the last segment. An average
one is five eighths of an inch long, exclusive of the head,
when still; four fifths of an inch, or more, with the
head, when moving; one fourth of an inch wide, broad-
est forward; and from one tenth to one eighth inch
deep, nearly (at middle). They have six brown legs
within about one fourth of an inch of the forward ex-
tremity. This worm is apparently composed of twelve
scale-like segments, including the narrow terminal
one or tail, and not including the head, which at will
is drawn under the foremost scale or segment like a
turtle's. (I do not remember if the other species con-
cealed its head thus, completely.) Looking down on
it, I do not see distinctly more than two antennae, one
on each side, whitish at base, dark-brown at tip, and
apparently about the same length with the longest of
the other species. The general color above is black,
or say a very dark brown or blackish; the head the
same. On each side two faint rows of light-colored
dots. The first segment is broadly conical, and much
the largest; the others very narrow in proportion to
their breadth transversely, and successively narrower,
slightly recurved at tip and bristle-pointed and also
curved upward at the thin outer edge, while the rounded
dorsal ridge is slightly elevated above this. Beneath,
dirty white with two rows of black spots on each side.
They always get under the sod by day and bury
themselves. They are not often much curled up, never
in a ring, nor nearly so much as the other kind. They
are much more restless when disturbed, both by day
and night, than the others. They are a much coarser
insect than the other and approach more nearly to
the form of a sow-bug. I kept them more than a
Vide back, August 8th.
Sept. 17. Thursday. I go to Fair Haven Hill, look-
ing at the varieties of nabalus, which have a singular
prominence now in all woods and roadsides. The lower
leaves are very much eaten by insects. How perfectly
each plant has its turn! as if the seasons revolved
for it alone. Two months ago it would have taken a
sharp eye to have detected this plant. One of those
great puffballs, three inches in diameter, ripe.
Sept. 18. Friday. P. M. Round Walden with C.
We find the water cold for bathing. Coming out on
to the Lincoln road at Bartlett's path, we found an
abundance of haws by the roadside, just fit to eat,
quite an agreeable subacid fruit. We were glad to see
anything that could be eaten so abundant. They must
be a supply depended on by some creatures. These
bushes bear a profusion of fruit, rather crimson than
scarlet when ripe.
I hear that "Uncle Ned" of the Island told of walk-
ing along the shore of a pond where the "shells" of
the mosquitoes were washed up in winrows.
As I was going through the Cut, on my way, I saw
what I thought a rare high-colored flower in the sun
on the sandy bank. It was a Trifolium arvense whose
narrow leaves were turned a bright crimson, enhanced
by the sun shining through it and lighting it up. Go-
ing along the low path under Bartlett's Cliff, the Aster
levis flowers, when seen toward the sun, are very hand-
some, having a purple or lilac tint.
We started a pack of grouse, which went off with a
whir like cannon-balls. C. said he did not see but they
were round still and preserved the same relation to
the wind and other elements that they held twenty
years ago. I suggested that they were birds of the
Coming home through the street in a thunder-shower
at ten o'clock this night, it was exceedingly dark. I
met two persons within a mile, and they were obliged
to call out from a rod distant lest we should run against
each other. When the lightning lit up the street, almost
as plain as day, I saw that it was the same green light
that the glow-worm emits. Has the moisture some-
thing to do with it in both cases?
Sept. 19. Saturday. Still somewhat rainy,- since
Solidago arguta variety done, say a week or more.
Sept. 20. Sunday. Another mizzling day.
P. M. To beach plums behind A. Clarke's.
We walked in some trodden path on account of the
wet grass and leaves, but the fine grass overhanging
paths, weighed down with dewy rain, wet our feet
nevertheless. We cannot afford to omit seeing the beaded
grass and wetting our feet. This is our first fall rain,
and makes a dividing line between the summer and
fall. Yet there has been no drought the past summer.
Vegetation is unusually fresh. Methinks the grass in
some shorn meadows is even greener than in the spring.
You are soon wet through by the underwood if you
enter the woods, ferns, aralia, huckleberries, etc. Went
through the lower side of the wood west of Peter's.
The early decaying and variegated spotted leaves of
the Aralia nudicaulis, which spread out flat and of
uniform height some eighteen (?) inches above the
forest floor, are very noticeable and interesting in our
woods in early autumn, now and for some time. For
more than a month it has been changing. The out-
lines of trees are more conspicuous and interesting
such a day as this, being seen distinctly against the
near misty background, distinct and dark.
The branches of the alternate cornel are spreading
and flat, somewhat cyme-like, as its fruit. Beach plums
are now perfectly ripe and unexpectedly good, as good
as an average cultivated plum. I get a handful, dark-
purple with a bloom, as big as a good-sized grape and
but little more oblong, about three quarters of an
inch broad and a very little longer. I got a handker-
chief full of elder-berries, though I am rather late about
it, for the birds appear to have greatly thinned the
A great many small red maples in Beck Stow's Swamp
are turned quite crimson, when all the trees around
are still perfectly green. It looks like a gala day there.
A pitch pine and birch wood is rapidly springing
up between the Beck Stow Wood and the soft white
pine grove. It is now just high and thick enough to be
noticed as a young wood-lot, if not mowed down.1
Sept. 21. Monday. P. M.- To Corallorhiza Rock
and Tobacco-pipe Wood, northeast of Spruce Swamp.
Peaches are now in their prime. Came through that
1 Cut down in '59.
thick white pine wood on the east of the spruce
This is a very dense white pine grove, consisting of
tall and slender trees which have been thinned, yet
they are on an average only from three to six feet
asunder. Perhaps half have been cut. It is a charac-
teristic white pine grove, and I have seen many such.
The trees are some ten inches in diameter, larger or
smaller, and about fifty feet high. They are bare for
thirty-five or forty feet up, which is equal to at least
twenty-five years of their growth, or with only a few
dead twigs high up. Their green crowded tops are
mere oval spear-heads in shape and almost in propor-
tionate size, four to eight feet wide, not enough,
you would think, to keep the tree alive, still less to
draw it upward. In a dark day the wood is not only
thick but dark with the boles of the trees. Under this
dense shade, the red-carpeted ground is almost bare
of vegetation and is dark at noon. There grow Good-
yera pubescens and repens, Corallorhiza multiflora (go-
ing to seed), white cohosh berries, Pyrola secunda, and,
on the low west side and also the east side, an abun-
dance of tobacco-pipe, which has begun to turn black
at the tip of the petals and leaves.
The Solidago cwsia is very common and fresh in
copses, perhaps the prevailing solidago now in woods.
Rudbeckia laciniata done, probably some time. The
warmth of the sun is just beginning to be appreciated
again on the advent of cooler days.
Measured the large white willow north the road
near Hildreth's. At a foot and a half from the ground
1857] A SQUIRREL BURYING A NUT
it is fourteen feet in circumference; at five feet, the
smallest place, it is twelve feet in circumference. It
was once still larger, for it has lost large branches.'
Sept. 23. Wednesday. P. M. To chestnut oaks.
Varieties of nabalus grow along the Walden road
in the woods; also, still more abundant, by the Flint's
Pond road in the woods. I observe in these places
only the N. alba and Fraseri; but these are not well
distinguished; they seem to be often alike in the color
of the pappus. Some are very tall and slender, and
the largest I saw was an N. Fraseril One N. alba had
a panicle three feet long!
The Ripley beeches have been cut. I can't find them.
There is one large one, apparently on Baker's land,
about two feet in diameter near the ground, but fruit
hollow. I see yellow pine-sap, in the woods just east
of where the beeches used to stand, just done, but the
red variety is very common and quite fresh generally
Sept. 24. Thursday. A. M. Up the Assabet.
The river is considerably raised and also muddied
by the recent rains.
I saw a red squirrel run along the bank under the
hemlocks with a nut in its mouth. He stopped near
the foot of a hemlock, and, hastily pawing a hole with
his fore feet, dropped the nut, covered it up, and re-
treated part way up the trunk of the tree, all in a few
moments. I approached the shore to examine the
I Cut down in '59. 2 Oct. 14, 1858.
deposit, and he, descending betrayed no little anxiety
for his treasure and made two or three motions to
recover the nut before he retreated. Digging there, I
found two pignuts joined together, with their green
shells on, buried about an inch and a half in the soil,
under the red hemlock leaves.' This, then, is the
way forests are planted. This nut must have been
brought twenty rods at least and was buried at just
the right depth. If the squirrel is killed, or neglects its
deposit, a hickory springs up.2
P. M. I walked to that very dense and handsome
white pine grove east of Beck Stow's Swamp. It is
about fifteen rods square, the trees large, ten to twenty
inches in diameter. It is separated by a wall from
another pine wood with a few oaks in it on the south-
east, and about thirty rods north and west are other
pine and oak woods. Standing on the edge of the wood
and looking through it,--for it is quite level and free
from underwood, mostly bare, red-carpeted ground, -
you would have said that there was not a hardwood
tree in it, young or old, though I afterward found on
one edge a middling-sized sassafras, a birch, a small
tupelo, and two little scarlet oaks, but, what was more
interesting, I found, on looking closely over its floor,
that, alternating with thin ferns and small blueberry
bushes, there was, as often as every five feet, a little
oak, three to twelve inches high, and in one place I
found a green acorn dropped by the base of a tree. I
Vide Patent Office Reports, 1856, p. 59.
2 These nuts were there Oct. 8th. Gone Nov. 21st.
1857] HARDWOOD TREES UNDER PINES 41
was surprised, I confess, to find my own theory so
perfectly proved. These oaks, apparently, find such
a locality unfavorable to their growth as long as the
pines stand. I saw that some had been browsed by
the cows which resort to the wood for shade. As an
evidence that hardwood trees would not flourish un-
der those circumstances, I found a red maple twenty-
five feet high recently prostrated, as if by the wind, but
still covered with green leaves, the only maple in the
wood, and also two birches decaying in the same posi-
tion.1 The ground was completely strewn with white
pine cones, apparently thrown down by the squirrels,
still generally green and closed, but many stripped of
scales, about the base of almost every pine, sometimes
all of them. Now and for a week a good time to collect
them. You can hardly enter such a wood but you will
hear a red squirrel chiding you from his concealment
in some pine-top. It is the sound most native to the
Minott tells of their finding near a bushel of chest-
nuts in a rock, when blasting for the mill brook, at
that ditch near Flint's Pond. He said it was a gray
I find the Lycopodium dendroideum, not quite out,
just northwest of this pine grove, in the grass. It is
not the variety obscurum, which grows at Trillium
Wood, is more upright-branched and branches round.
Sept. 25. Friday. P. M. To tupelo on Daniel B.
1 [Excursions, pp. 190-192; Riv. 233-236.]
Stopping in my boat under the Hemlocks, I hear sin-
gular bird-like chirruping from two red squirrels. "One
sits high on a hemlock bough with a nut in its paws.
A squirrel seems always to have a nut at hand ready
to twirl in its paws. Suddenly he dodges behind the
trunk of the tree, and I hear some birds in the maples
across the river utter a peculiar note of alarm of the
same character with the hen's (I think they were robins),
and see them seeking a covert. Looking round, I see
a marsh hawk beating the bushes on that side.
You notice now the dark-blue dome of the soapwort
gentian in cool and shady places under the bank.
Pushing by Carter's pasture, I see, deep under water
covered by the rise of the river, the cooper's poles
a-soak, held down by planks and stones.
Fasten to the white maple and go inland. Wher-
ever you may land, it would be strange if there were not
some alder clump at hand to hide your oars in till your
The red maple has fairly begun to blush in some
places by the river. I see one, by the canal behind
Barrett's mill, all aglow against the sun. These first
trees that change are most interesting, since they are
seen against others still freshly green, such brilliant
red on green. I go half a mile out of my way to exam-
ine such a red banner. A single tree becomes the crown-
ing beauty of some meadowy vale and attracts the at-
tention of the traveller from afar. At the eleventh
hour of the year, some tree which has stood mute and
inglorious in some distant vale thus proclaims its char-
acter as effectually as [if] it stood by the highway-side,
AN OLD GRIST-MILL
and it leads our thoughts away from the dusty road into
those brave solitudes which it inhabits. The whole tree,
thus ripening in advance of its fellows, attains a sin-
gular preeminence. I am thrilled at the sight of it,
bearing aloft its scarlet standard for its regiment of
green-clad foresters around. The forest is the more
I remember that brakes had begun to decay as much
as six weeks ago. Dogwood (Rhus venenata) is yet but
pale-scarlet or yellowish. The R. glabra is more gener-
Stopped at Barrett's mill. He had a buttonwood log
to saw. In an old grist-mill the festoons of cobwebs
revealed by the white dust on them are an ornament.
Looking over the shoulder of the miller, I drew his at-
tention to a mouse running up a brace. "Oh, yes,"
said he, "we have plenty of them. Many are brought
to the mill in barrels of corn, and when the barrel is
placed on the platform of the hopper they scamper
As I came round the island, I took notice of that
little ash tree on the opposite shore. It has been cut
or broken off about two feet from the ground, and seven
small branches have shot up from its circumference,
all together forming a perfectly regular oval head about
twenty-five feet high and very beautiful. With what
harmony they work and carry out the idea of the tree,
one twig not straying farther on this side than its fel-
Slow on that! That the tree thus has its idea to be lived
up to, and, as it were, fills an invisible mould in the
1 [Excursions, pp. 260, 261; Riv. 318-320.]
air, is the more evident, because if you should cut away
one or all but one, the remaining branch or branches
would still in time form a head in the main similar to
Brought home my first boat-load of wood.
Sept. 26. Saturday. A. M. Apparently Hyperi-
cum prolificum in Monroe's garden, still out.
The season is waning. A wasp just looked in upon
me. A very warm day for the season.
P. M. Up river to Clamshell.
These are warm, serene, bright autumn afternoons.
I see far off the various-colored gowns of cranberry-
pickers against the green of the meadow. The river
stands a little way over the grass again, and the sum-
mer is over. The pickerel-weed is brown, and I see
musquash-houses. Solidago rigida, just done, within
a rod southwest of the oak. I see a large black cricket
on the river, a rod from shore, and a fish is leaping
at it. As long as the fish leaps, it is motionless as if
dead; but as soon as it feels my paddle under it, it is
lively enough. I sit on Clamshell bank and look over
the meadows. Hundreds of crickets have fallen into
a sandy gully and now are incessantly striving to creep
or leap up again over the sliding sand. This their
business this September afternoon. I watch a marsh
hawk circling low along the edge of the meadow, look-
ing for a frog, and now at last it alights to rest on a
Coming home, the sun is intolerably warm on my
left cheek. I perceive it is because the heat of the re-
elected sun, which is as bright as the real one, is added
to that of the real one, for when I cover the reflection
with my hand the heat is less intense.
That cricket seemed to know that if he lay quietly
spread out on the surface, either the fishes would not
suspect him to be an insect, or if they tried to swallow
him would not be able to.
What blundering fellows these crickets are, both
large and small! They were not only tumbling into
the river all along shore, but into this sandy gully, to
escape from which is a Sisyphus labor. I have not sat
there many minutes watching two foraging crickets
which have decided to climb up two tall and slender
weeds almost bare of branches, as a man shins up a
liberty-pole sometimes, when I find that one has climbed
to the summit of my knee. They are incessantly run-
ning about on the sunny bank. Their still larger
cousins, the mole crickets, are creaking loudly and
incessantly all along the shore. Others have eaten
themselves cavernous apartments, sitting-room and
pantry at once, in windfall apples.
Speaking to Rice of that cricket's escape, he said
that a snake [sic] in like manner would puff itself up
when a snake was about to swallow him, making right
up to him. IIe once, with several others, saw a small
striped snake swim across a piece of water about
half a rod wide to a half-grown bullfrog which sat on
the opposite shore, and attempt to seize him, but he
found that he had caught a Tartar, for the bullfrog,
seeing him coming, was not afraid of him, but at
once seized his head in his mouth and closed his jaws
upon it, and he thus held the snake a considerable
while before the latter was able by struggling to get
When that cricket felt my oar, he leaped without
the least hesitation or perhaps consideration, trusting
to fall in a pleasanter place. He was evidently trust-
ing to drift against some weed which would afford him
a point d'appui.
Sept. 27. I am surprised to find that, yesterday
having been a sudden very warm day, the peaches
have mellowed suddenly and wilted, and I find many
more fallen than even after previous rains. Better if
ripened more gradually.
How out of all proportion to the value of an idea,
when you come to one,- in Hindoo literature, for
instance, is the historical fact about it, the when,
where, etc., it was actually expressed, and what pre-
cisely it might signify to a sect of worshippers! Any-
thing that is called history of India or of the world -
is impertinent beside any real poetry or inspired thought
which is dateless.
P. M. To Lee's Cliff by land.
Small red maples in low ground have fairly begun
to burn for a week. It varies from scarlet to crimson.
It looks like training-day in the meadows and swamps.
They have run up their colors. A small red maple
has grown, perchance, far away on some moist hill-
side, a mile from any road, unobserved. It has faith-
fully discharged the duties of a maple there, all winter
and summer, neglected none of its economies, added
1857] A VIRTUOUS RED MAPLE
to its stature in the virtue which belongs to a maple,
by a steady growth all summer, and is nearer heaven
than in the spring, never having gone gadding abroad;
and now, in this month of September, when men are
turned travellers, hastening to the seaside, or the moun-
tains, or the lakes,- in this month of travelling, -
this modest maple, having ripened its seeds, still with-
out budging an inch, travels on its reputation, runs up
its scarlet flag on that hillside, to show that it has
finished its summer work before all other trees, and
withdraws from the contest. Thus that modest worth
which no scrutiny could have detected when it was
most industrious, is, by the very tint of its maturity,
by its very blushes, revealed at last to the most careless
and distant observer. It rejoices in its existence; its
reflections are unalloyed. It is the day of thanksgiving
with it. At last, its labors for the year being consum-
mated and every leaf ripened to its full, it flashes out
conspicuous to the eye of the most casual observer,
with all the virtue and beauty of a maple, Acer
rubrum. In its hue is no regret nor pining. Its leaves
have been asking their parent from time to time in
a whisper, "When shall we redden?" It has faith-
fully husbanded its sap, and builded without babbling
nearer and nearer to heaven. Long since it committed
its seeds to the winds and has the satisfaction of know-
ing perhaps that a thousand little well-behaved and pro-
mising maples of its stock are already established in
business somewhere. It deserves well of Mapledom.
It has afforded a shelter to the wandering bird.' Its
1 [Excursions, pp. 260, 261; Riv. 319, 320.]
autumnal tint shows how it has spent its summer; it
is the hue of its virtue.
These burning bushes stand thus along the edge
of the meadows, and I distinguish them afar upon all
the hillsides, here and there.' Her virtues are as scar-
The large common ferns (either cinnamon or in-
terrupted) are yellowish, and also many as rich a deep
brown now as ever. White birches have fairly begun
to yellow, and blackberry vines here and there in
sunny places look like a streak of blood on the grass.
Bass, too, fairly begun to yellow. Solidago nemoralis
nearly done. I sit on the hillside at Miles Swamp. A
woodbine investing the leading stem of an elm in the
swamp quite to its top is seen as an erect slender red
column through the thin and yellowing foliage of the
elm, a very pretty effect. I see some small woodbine
leaves in the shade of a delicate cherry-color, border-
ing on pink.
As I sit there I see the shadow of a hawk flying above
and behind me. I think I see more hawks nowadays.
Perhaps it is both because the young are grown and
their food, the small birds, are flying in flocks and are
abundant. I need only sit still a few minutes on any
spot which overlooks the river meadows, before I see
some black circling mote beating along, circling along
the meadow's edge, now lost for a moment as it turns
edgewise in a peculiar light, now reappearing further
i [Excursions, p. 259; Riv. 317.]
2 [Excursions, p. 261; Riv. 320.]
1857] POITRINE JAUNE GROSSE
Witch-hazel two thirds yellowed.
Huckleberries are still abundant and quite plump
on Conantum, though they have a somewhat dried
It is most natural, i. e. most in accordance with the
natural phenomena, to suppose that North America
was discovered from the northern part of the Eastern
Continent, for a study of the range of plants, birds,
and quadrupeds points to a connection on that side.
Many birds are common to the northern parts of both
continents. Even the passenger pigeon has flown
across there. And some European plants have been
detected on the extreme northeastern coast and islands,
which do not extend inland. Men in their migrations
obey in the main the same law.
Sept. 28. I planted six seeds sent from the Patent
Office and labelled, I think, "Poitrine jaune grosse"
(large yellow pumpkin (or squash ?)). Two came up,
and one bore a squash which weighs 1231 lbs.
the other bore four, 1 weighing 721
4th -" 211
Who would have believed that there was 310 pounds
of poitrine jaune grosse in that corner of our garden ?
Yet that little seed found it. Other seeds would find
something else every year for successive ages, until
the crop more than filled our whole garden; which
suggests that the various fruits are the product of the
same elements differently combined, and those ele-
ments are in continual revolution around the globe.
This poitrine found here the air of France, and mea-
surably its soil too.1
Looking down from Nawshawtuct this afternoon,
the white maples on the Assabet and below have a
singular light glaucous look, almost hoary, as if curled
and showing the under sides of the leaves, and they
contrast with the fresh green pines and -hemlocks.
The swamp white oaks present some of the same
crisped whitish appearance.
I see that E. Wood has sent a couple of Irishmen,
with axe and bush-whack, to cut off the natural hedges
of sumach, Roxbury waxwork, grapes, etc., which
have sprung up by the walls on this hill farm, in order
that his cows may get a little more green. And they
have cut down two or three of the very rare celtis
trees, not found anywhere else in town. The Lord de-
liver us from these vandalic proprietors! The botan-
ist and lover of nature has, perchance, discovered
some rare tree which has sprung up by a farmer's
wall-side to adorn and bless it, sole representative of
its kind in these parts. Strangers send for a seed or a
sprig from a distance, but, walking there again, he
finds that the farmer has sent a raw Irishman, a hire-
ling just arrived on these shores, who was never there
before, and, we trust, will never be let loose there
again, who knows not whether he is hacking at the
upas tree or the Tree of Knowledge, with axe and
stub-scythe to exterminate it, and he will know it no
I [Excursions, p. 203; Riv. 249.]
more forever. What is trespassing ? This Hessian,
the day after he was landed, was whirled twenty miles
into the interior to do this deed of vandalism .on our
favorite hedge. I would as soon admit a living mud
turtle into my herbarium. If some are prosecuted for
abusing children, others deserve to be prosecuted for
maltreating the face of nature committed to their care.
Had one of those sudden cool gusts, which filled
the air with dust from the road, shook the houses,
and caused the elms to labor and drop many leaves,
early in afternoon. No such gust since spring.
Sept. 29. All sorts of men come to Cattle-Show. I
see one with a blue hat.
I hear that some have gathered fringed gentian.
Pines have begun to be parti-colored with yellow leaves.
Sept. 30. Ground white with frost this morning.
P. M. To Walden.
Young oaks generally reddening, etc., etc. Rhus Tox-
icodendron turned yellow and red, handsomely dotted
At Wheeler's Wood by railroad, heard a cat owl hoot-
ing at 3.30 P. M., which was repeatedly answered by
another some forty rods off.
Talked with Minott, who was sitting, as usual, in
his wood-shed. His hen and chickens, finding it cold
these nights on the trees behind the house, had begun
last night to roost in the shed, and one by one walked
or hopped up a ladder within a foot of his shoulder
to the loft above. He sits there so much like a fixture
that they do not regard him. It has got to be so cool,
then, that tender chickens seek a shelter at night; but
I saw.the hens at Clark's (the R. Brown house) were
still going to roost in the apple trees. M. asks the ped-
dlers if they've got anything that'll cure the rheuma-
tism, and often buys a wash of them.
I was telling him how some crows two or three weeks
ago came flying with a scolding caw toward me as I
stood on "Cornel Rock," and alighted within fifty
feet on a dead tree above my head, unusually bold.
Then away go all but one, perchance, to a tall pine
in the swamp, twenty rods off; anon he follows. Again
they go quite out of sight amid the tree-tops, leaving
one behind. This one, at last, quite at his leisure, flaps
away cawing, knowing well where to find his mates,
though you might think he must winter alone.
Minott said that as he was going over to Lincoln
one day thirty or forty years ago, taking his way through
Ebby Hubbard's woods, he heard a great flock of
crows cawing over his head, and one alighted just
within gunshot. He raised his little gun marked
London, which he knew would fetch down anything
that was within gunshot, and down came the crow;
but he was not killed, only so filled with shot that he
could not fly. As he was going by John Wyman's
at the pond, with the live crow in his hand, Wyman
asked him what he was going to do with that crow, to
which he answered, "Nothing in particular," -he hap-
pened to alight within gunshot, and so he shot him.
Wyman said that he'd like to have him. "What do
you want to do with him?" asked M. "If you '11 give
1857] WYMAN AND THE CROW
him to me, I'll tell you," said the other. To which
Minott said, "You may have him and welcome." Wy-
man then proceeded to inform him that the crows had
eaten a great space in Josh Jones the blacksmith's
corn-field, which Minott had passed just below the
almshouse, and that Jones had told him that if he
could kill a crow in his corn-field he would give him
half a bushel of rye. He could guess what he wanted
the crow for. So Wyman took the crow and the next
time he went into town he tossed him over the wall into
the corn-field and then shot him, and, carrying the
dead crow to Jones, he got his half-bushel of rye.
[Here, and at several following points, matter rela-
tive to the'recent Maine excursion is omitted as having
been already used in "The Maine Woods."]
The mist and mizzling rain there was like the spar-
kling dust of amethysts.
The Watsons tell me that Uncle Ned uses the ex-
pression "a glade" for the sheen of the moon on the
water, which is, I see, according to Bailey, being from
KXd8o0, a branch. Helps thinks "a glade" such a path
through a forest as an army would cut with a sword. .
What poor crack-brains we are! easily upset and
unable to take care of ourselves! If there were a preci-
pice at our doors, some would be found jumping off
to-day for fear that, if they survived, they might jump
off to-morrow. .
Consider what actual phenomena await us. To say
nothing of life, which may be rare and difficult to detect,
and death, which is startling enough, we cannot begin
1 [At Mt. Kineo, Moosehead Lake.]
to conceive of anything so surprising and thrilling but
that something more surprising may be actually pre-
sented to us.' .
According to the Upanishads, As water, when rained
down on elevated ground, runs scattered off in the val-
leys, so ever runs after difference a person who beholds
attributes different (from the soul)."
"As pure water, which is thrown down on pure
ground, remains alike, so also, O Gautama, is the soul
of the thinker who knows."
Minott says he is seventy-five years old.
Minott said he had seen a couple of pigeons go over
at last, as he sat in his shed. At first he thought they
were doves, but he soon saw that they were pigeons,
they flew so straight and fast.
He says that that tall clock which still ticks in the
corner belonged to old John Beatton, who died before
he was born; thought it was two hundred years old!!
Some of the rest of the furniture came from the same
source. His gun marked London was one that Beatton
sent to England for, for a young man that lived with
him. I read on John Beatton's tombstone near the
powder-house that he died in 1776, aged seventy-four.
S[Apropos of the phosphorescent wood of Maine Woods, pp. 198-
201 (Riv. 245-248).]
Oct. 1. P. M.- To second stone bridge and down
The ash trees are a dull red, and some quite mulberry-
color. Methinks it has to do with the smart frost of
yesterday morning; i. e., that after the maples have
fairly begun, the young 'red oaks, ash trees, etc.,
begin with the first smart frost. The pines now half
turned yellow, the needles of this year are so much
the greener by contrast. The arbor-vitae changes
with them so completely that it looks as if the lower
parts were dead. All very much exposed button-bushes
are brown and sere; so their yellowish season does not
amount to much away from the river. .
It seemed to me that it was no compliment to their
god to suppose that he would not let them go to Ktaadn
without so much ado.2 They'd better have put their
shoulders to the wheel and stumped it along at a good
round pace. .
I boiled some rice at the carry, for our dinner, in
cooking which I consider myself adept, having had a
good deal of experience in it. P. said that he some-
times used it, but boiled it till it all fell apart, and,
1 Vide  pages forward [Oct. 4].
2 [See Maine Woods, pp. 214, 215; Riv. 265.]
finding this mess unexpectedly soft though quickly
prepared,,he asked if it had not been cooked before.
Washing the dishes, especially the greasy ones, is
the most irksome duty of the camp, and it reminded
me of that sacred band in Fourier's scheme, who took
upon themselves the most disagreeable services., The
consequence is that they do not often get washed.
Oct. 2. P. M. To Hubbard's Close and Swamp.
Veronica scutellaria still. Sitting on a rock east of
Trillium Woods, I perceive that, generally speaking,
it is only the edge or pediment of the woods that shows
the bright autumnal tints yet (while the superstructure
is green), the birches, very young oaks and hickories,
huckleberry bushes, blackberries, etc., etc., that stand
around the edges, though here and there some taller
maple flames upward amid the masses of green, or
some other riper and mellower tree.
The chief incidents in Minott's life must be more
distinct and interesting to him now than immediately
after they occurred, for he has recalled and related
them so often that they are stereotyped in his mind.
Never having travelled far from his hillside, he does
not suspect himself, but tells his stories with fidelity
and gusto to the minutest details, as much as Hero-
dotus his histories.
The leaves of some trees merely wither, turn brown,
and drop off at this season, without any conspicuous
flush of beauty, while others now first attain to the climax
of their beauty.
There is a more or less general reddening of the leaves
1857] THE CHANGING OF THE LEAVES 57
at this season, down to the cinquefoil and mouse-ear,
sorrel and strawberry under our feet. White oaks are
still quite green, with a few distinct red leaves inter-
mixed. A great many red maples are merely yellow;
more, scarlet, in. some cases deepening to crimson.
Looking at the pines of Trillium Woods, I see that
the pitch pines have generally a rounded head, com-
posed of countless distinct small rounded masses of
foliage, the tops of their plumes, while the white pines
are more smooth, or only flaky.
Since the cooler weather many crickets are seen
clustered 6n warm banks and by sunny wall-sides.
It is evident from their droppings that the wood-
chucks (?)1 eat many of them these evenings.
I go through Stow's Wood and up Laurel Glen east-
ward. The chickadees of late have winter ways, flock-
ing after you.
This changing of the leaves their brighter tints -
must have to do with cold, for it begins in the low
meadows and in frosty hollows in the woods. There
is where you must look as yet for the bright tints. I
see the sprouts at the base of an old red oak for four
or five feet upward, investing its trunk, all clear bright
red, while all above is green. The shrub oak leaves
around are more yellow or scarlet than the red. At
the bottom of this hollow, the young walnut leaves
have just been killed by the frosts while still green,
and generally the hazel leaves also, but not the oaks,
cherries, etc., etc. Many little maples in those coldest
places have already dropped all their leaves. Gener-
ally in low ground many maple and birch and locust
leaves have fallen. Grape leaves were killed and crisped
by the last frost.
The fringed gentian at Hubbard's Close has been
out some time, and most of it already withered.
In the clintonia swamp I see where some animal
has been getting the seeds of the skunk-cabbage out
of their pericarp. You may take a dry walk there for
a quarter of a mile along the base of the hill through
this open swamp, where there is no underwood, all
the way in a field of cinnamon fern four or five feet
high and level, brushing against its light fronds, which
offer now no serious obstacle. They are now generally
imbrowned or crisp. In the more open swamp beyond,
these ferns, recently killed by the frost and exposed
to the sun, fill the air with a very strong sour scent, as
if your nose [were] over a hogshead of vinegar. When
I strip off a handful of the frond I find it is the cinna-
mon fern. I perceive it afterward in different parts
of the town.
The erechthites down (fire-weed) is conspicuous in
sprout-lands of late, since its leaves were killed.
Oct. 3. The Rhus radicans also turns yellow and
red or scarlet, like the Toxicodendron. Asters, and
still more goldenrods, look quite rare now. See a
Getting over the wall near Sam Barrett's the other
day, I had gone a few rods in the road when I met
Prescott Barrett, who observed, "Well, you take a
walk round the square sometimes." So little does he
know of my habits. I go across lots over his grounds
every three or four weeks, but I do not know that I
ever walked round the square in my life.
How much more agreeable to sit in the midst of old
furniture like Minott's clock and secretary and look-
ing-glass, which have come down from other genera-
tions, than in [sic] that which was just brought from
the cabinet-maker's and smells of varnish, like a coffin!
To sit under the face of an old clock that has been tick-
ing one hundred and fifty years, there is something
mortal, not to say immortal, about it! A clock that
began to tick when Massachusetts was a province.
Meanwhile John Beatton's heavy tombstone is cracked
quite across and widely opened.1
Oct. 4. A. M. By boat to Conantum.
River fallen again. Barberrying and graping. Many
of the grapes shrivelled and killed by frost now, and
the leaves mostly fallen. The yellow leaves of the white
willow thickly strew the bottom of my boat. Willows,
elms, etc., shed their oldest leaves first, even like pines.2
The recent and green ones are seen. mottling a yellow-
ish ground, especially in the willow; and, in the case
of the willow, at least, these green ones wither and fall
for the most part without turning yellow at all.
The button-bushes are generally greenish-yellow
now; only the highest and most exposed points brown
and crisp in some places. The black willow, rising
above them, is crisped yellowish-brown, so that the
1 It has fallen also and has been set up.
S[Altered in pencil so as to read, These willows shed," etc.]
general aspect of the river's brim now is a modest or
sober ripe yellowish-brown, generally no bright
colors. When I scare up a bittern from amid the weeds,
I say it is the color of that bird's breast, or body
generally, for the darker part of its wings correspond
to the sere pickerel-weed. Now that the pontederia
is brown, the humble, weedy green of the shore is bur-
weed, polygonum, wool-grass, and, in some places,
rushes. Such is the river's border ordinarily, either
these weeds mingled with the sere and dark-brown
pontederia or a convex raised rim of button-bushes,
two to four feet high by a rod wide, through [which]
the black willows rise one to a dozen feet higher. Here
and there, to be sure, are the purple-leaved Cornus
sericea, yellowish sweet-gale, reddish rose bushes, etc.,
Alders are still a fresh green. The grape leaves are
generally crisp and curled, having a very light-colored
appearance, but where it is protected by other foliage
it is still a dense canopy of greenish-yellow shields.
From the midst of these yellowing button-bushes,
etc., I hear from time to time a half-warbled strain
from some young sparrow who thinks it is spring.
Scared up from the low shore at the bend, on the
south side, opposite Clamshell, a flock of seventy-five
or one hundred of what appeared solitary tattlers (? ?),
that went off with a rippling note, wheeled, and
alighted there again.'
Now again, when other trees prove so fickle, the
steadfast evergreenness of the pines is appreciated.
'Henry Haynes next year thought they might be Black-backs."
1857] EMPLOYED AS A MASON 61
Bright-tinted flaming scarlet or yellow maples amid
pines show various segments of bright cones embosomed
At Potter's Swamp, where they are all maples, it
adds to the beauty of the maple swamp at this season
that it is not seen as a simple mass of color, but, differ-
ent trees being of different tints, green, yellow, scar-
let,. crimson, "and different shades of each, the out-
line of each tree is distinct to where one laps on to
another. Yet a painter would hardly venture to make
them thus distinct a quarter of a mile off.'
Hear a catbird and chewink, both faint.
Fever-bush has begun to yellow. Some nightshade
leaves are a very dark purple.
See a grackle on the shore, so near I see the light
mark about the eye.
While I lived in the woods I did various jobs about
the town, some fence-building, painting, garden-
ing, carpentering, etc., etc. One day a man came from
the east edge of the town and said that he wanted to
get me to brick up a fireplace, etc., etc., for him. I
told him that I was not a mason, but he knew that I
had built my own house entirely and would not take
no for an answer. So I went.
It was three miles off, and I walked back and forth
each day, arriving early and working as late as if I were
living there. The man was gone away most of the time,
but had left some sand dug up in his cow-yard for me
to make mortar with. I bricked up a fireplace, papered
a chamber, but my principal work was whitewashing
I [Excursions, p. 262; Riv. 321.]
ceilings. Some were so dirty that many coats would
not conceal the dirt. In the kitchen I finally resorted
to yellow-wash to cover the dirt. I took my meals there,
sitting down with my employer (when he got home)
and his hired men. I remember the awful condition
of the sink, at which I washed one day, and when I
came to look at what was called the towel I passed
it by and wiped my hands on the air, and thereafter
I resorted to the pump. I worked there hard three
days, charging only a dollar a day.
About the same time I also contracted to build a
wood-shed of no mean size, for, I think, exactly six
dollars, and cleared about half of it by a close calcu-
lation and swift working. The tenant wanted me to
throw in a gutter and latch, but I carried off the board
that was left and gave him no latch but a button. It
stands yet, behind the Kettle house. I broke up
Johnny Kettle's old troww," in which he kneaded
his bread, for material. Going home with what nails
were left in a flower [sic] bucket on my arm, in a rain,
I was about getting into a hay-rigging, when my um-
brella frightened the horse, and he kicked at me over
the fills, smashed the bucket on my arm, and stretched
me on my back; but while I lay on my back, his
leg being caught over the shaft, I got up, to see him
sprawling on the other side. This accident, the sudden
bending of my body backwards, sprained my stomach
so that I did not get quite strong there for several
years, but had to give up some fence-building and
other work which I had undertaken from time to
1857] MINOTT'S PEACH TREE STORY 63
I built the common slat fence for $1.50 per rod, or
worked for $1.00 per day. I built six fences.'
Minott and Rice are apt to tell me the same story
many times over. Minott told me the other day again
of his peach tree. John Richardson was going by with
a basket full of peach-stones. "What are you going
to do with them?" asked M. He said he was going
to plant. "Well, give me two or three of them, and I '11
try too." So he raised one fine tree, which bore first-
rate rare-ripes as big as an apple, but after bearing
once or twice something got into it and the tree died.
They're short-lived things.
Oct. 5.1 P. M. To Yellow Birch Swamp.
I go by the river and Hunt's Bridge. A warm and
bright October afternoon. One man is making a gutter,
to be prepared.for rains, in his piece recently laid down
in Merrick's pasture, where the grass is just spring-
ing up. I see many haws still green and hard, though
their leaves are mostly fallen. Do they ever turn red
and edible? Their leaves are a very dull reddish cast.
The surface of the river sparkles in this air here and
there. I see in most orchards the apples in heaps under
the trees, and ladders slanted against their twiggy
masses. The earth shines now as much as, or more
than, ever in spring, especially the bare and somewhat
faded fields, pastures, stubble, etc. The light is re-
flected as from a ripe surface, no longer absorbed to
I Begins now ten days of perfect Indian summer without rain; and
the eleventh and twelfth days equally warm, though rainy.
I go north by Jarvis's lane from the old pump-maker's
house. There is not that profusion and consequent
confusion of events which belongs to a summer's walk.
There are few flowers, birds, insects, or fruits now,
and hence what does occur affects us as more simple
and significant. The cawing of a crow, the scream of
a jay. The latter seems to scream more fitly and with
more freedom now that some fallen maple leaves have
made way for his voice. The jay's voice resounds
through the vacancies occasioned by fallen maple
The mulberry 1 was perhaps the first tree that was
conspicuously turned after the maples. Many maples
are still quite green; so that their gala-day will be pro-
longed. I see some hickories now a crisped mass of
imbrowned yellow, green in the recesses, sere brown
on the prominences, though the eye does not commonly
thus discriminate. The smooth sumach is very im-
portant for its mass of clear red or crimson. Some of
it is now a very dark crimson.
In the old Carlisle road I see a great many pitch pine
twigs or plumes, cast down, evidently, by squirrels,
- but for what ?
Many are now gathering barberries.
Am surprised to see a large sassafras tree, with its
rounded umbrella-like top, without limbs beneath, on
the west edge of the Yellow Birch Swamp, or east of
Boulder Field. It is some sixteen inches in diameter.
There are seven or eight within two rods. Leaves curled,
but not changed. See a red squirrel cast down a chest-
1 Or ash ??
A RED SQUIRREL
nut bur. The pigeon woodpecker utters his whimsical
ah-week ah-week, etc., as in spring. The yellow birch
is somewhat yellowed. See a cherry-bird. Many robins
feeding on poke berries on Eb Hubbard's hill. There
is a great abundance of poke there. That lowest down
the hill, killed by frost, drooping and withered, no longer
purple-stemmed, but faded; higher up it is still purple.
I hear the alarum of a small red squirrel. I see him
running by fits and starts along a chestnut bough
toward me. His head looks disproportionately large
for his body, like a bulldog's, perhaps because he has
his chaps full of nuts. He chirrups and vibrates his
tail, holds himself in, and scratches along a foot as if
it were a mile. He finds noise and activity for both of
us. It is evident that all this ado does not proceed from
fear. There is at the bottom, no doubt, an excess of
inquisitiveness and caution, but the greater part is
make-believe and a love of the marvellous. He can
hardly keep it up till I am gone, however, but takes
out his nut and tastes it in the midst of his agitation.
"See there, see there," says he, "who's that? 0 dear,
what shall I do?" and makes believe run off, but
does n't get along an inch, lets it all pass off by
flashes through his tail, while he clings to the bark as
if he were holding in a race-horse. IHe gets down the
trunk at last on to a projecting knot, head downward,
within a rod of you, and chirrups and chatters louder
than ever. Tries to work himself into a fright. The
hind part of his body is urging the forward part along,
snapping the tail over it like a whip-lash, but the fore
part, for the most part, clings fast to the bark with
desperate energy. Squirr, "to throw with a jerk,"
seems to have quite as much to do with the name as
the Greek skia oura, shadow and tail.
The lower limbs of trees often incline downwards
as if from sympathy with the roots; the upper tend
upwards with the leading stem.
I found on the 4th, at Conantum, a half-bushel of
barberries on one clump about four feet in diameter
at base, falling over in wreaths on every side. I filled
my basket, standing behind it without being seen by
other pickers only a dozen rods off. Some great clumps
on Melvin's preserve, no doubt, have many more on
I hear nowadays again the small woodpecker's
sharp, shrill note from high on the trees. .
It is evident that some phenomena which belong
only to spring and autumn here, lasted through the
summer in that latitude, as the peeping of hylodes and
blossoming of some flowers that long since withered
here were there still freshly in bloom, in that fresher
and cooler atmosphere, the calla for instance. To
say nothing of the myrtle-bird and F. hyemalis which
breed there, but only transiently visit us in spring
and fall., Just as a river which here freezes only a cer-
tain distance from the shore, follow it further north, is
found to be completely bridged over. The toads, too,
as I have said, rang at this season. What is summer
where Indian corn will not ripen ?
Oct. 6. P. M. To Saw Mill Brook via Hubbard's
1857] THE TURNING FOLIAGE
A beautiful bright afternoon, still warmer than yes-
terday. I carry my coat on my arm. This weather
makes the locust to be heard, many of them. I go
along the hill from the old burying-ground and descend
at Minott's. Everything all fruits and leaves, the
reddish-silvery feathery grass in clumps,' even the
surfaces of stone and stubble are all ripe in this air.
Yes, the hue of maturity has come even to that fine
silver-topped feathery grass, two or three feet high,
in clumps on dry places. I am riper for thought, too.
Of trees which are numerous here and form consider-
able masses or groups, those now sufficiently changed
in their color to attract the eye generally are red maple
(in prime), N. B., the white maples began in water
long ago, but are rare, white birch (perhaps in prime),
young oaks in sprout-lands, etc. (especially young scar-
let oaks), white ash, white pines (when near), elms,
buttonwoods, and perhaps walnuts. Some others are
equally changed, but so rare or distant from the village
as to make less impression on me.
The shrubs now generally conspicuous from some
distance, from their changed color and mass, are huckle-
berries and blueberries (high and low), smooth sumach
and Rhus venenata, woodbine, button-bush, and grape
I observe too that the ferns of a rich brown (being
sere), about swamps, etc., are an important feature. A
broad belt of rich brown (and crisp) ferns stands
about many a bright maple swamp.
Some maples are in form and color like hickories,
1 Andropogon scoparius.
tall and irregular. It, indeed, admits of singular va-
riety in form and color. I see one now shaped like a
hickory which is a very rich yellow with a tinge of brown,
which, when I turn my head slightly, concealing the
trunk, looks like a mass of yellow cloud, wreath upon
wreath, drifting through the air, stratified by the wind.1
The trumpet-weeds are perfectly killed sere brown
along the fences.
Think what a change, unperceived by many, has
within a month come over the landscape! Then the
general, the universal, hue was green. Now see those
brilliant scarlet and glowing yellow trees in the low-
lands a mile off! I see them, too, here and there on the
sides of hills, standing out distinct, mere bright [an
indecipherable word] and squads perchance, often in
long broken lines, and so apparently elevated by their
distinct color that they seem arranged like the remnants
of a morning mist just retreating in a broken line along
the hillsides. Or see that crowd in the swamp half a
mile through, all vying with one another, a blaze of
glory. See those crimson patches far away on the hill-
sides, like dense flocks of crimson sheep, where the
huckleberry reminds of recent excursions. See those
patches of rich brown in the low grounds, where the
ferns stand shrivelled. See the greenish-yellow pha-
lanxes of birches, and the crisped yellowish elm-tops
here and there. We are not prepared to believe that
the earth is now so parti-colored, and would present to
a bird's eye such distinct masses of bright color. A
great painter is at work. The very pumpkins yellow-
[Excursions, p. 262; Riv. 321.]
1857] RUSKIN'S "MODERN PAINTERS" 69
ing in the fields become a feature in the landscape,
and thus they have shone, maybe, for a thousand years
I have just read Ruskin's "Modern Painters." I
am disappointed in not finding it a more out-of-door
book, for I have heard that such was its character,
but its title might have warned me. He does not de-
scribe Nature as Nature, but as Turner painted her,
and though the work betrays that he has given a close
attention to Nature, it appears to have been with an
artist's and critic's design. How much is written about
Nature as somebody has portrayed her, how little about
Nature as she is, and chiefly concerns us, i. e. how
much prose, how little poetry!
Going through Ebby Hubbard's woods, I see thou-
sands of white pine cones on the ground, fresh light
brown, which lately opened and shed their seeds and
lie curled up on the ground. The seeds are rather plea-
sant or nutritious tasting, taken in quantity, like beech-
nuts, methinks. I see a great quantity of hypopitys,
now all sere, along the path in the woods beyond. Call
it Pine-Sap Path. It seems to have been a favorable
season for it. It was evidently withered earlier than
the tobacco-pipe, which is still pretty white!
Going through the Ministerial sprout-lands, I see
the young oaks generally turning scarlet, and chest-
nuts, too, the young and also the old.
The lower chestnut leaves are among the most in-
teresting now when closely inspected, varying from
green to yellow, very finely and richly peppered with
brown and green spots, at length turning brown with
a tinge of crimson; but they, like others, must be seen
on the twig, for they fade immediately, or in one night,
if plucked. These brilliant leaves are as tender and in-
clined to wilt and fade as flowers, indeed are more
The amelanchier is yellowing and reddening a little,
and also falling. I see Lobelia inflata leaves in the
shade, a peculiar hoary white.
I see one or two chestnut burs open on the trees.
The squirrels, red and gray, are on all sides throwing
them down. You cannot stand long in the woods
without hearing one fall.
As I came up the Turnpike, I smelt that strong-
scented -like carrion, etc. obscene fungus at the
mossy bank, and I saw a dozen of those large flat oval
black bugs with light-colored shoulder-pieces, such as,
methinks, I see on carrion, feeding on its remnants. .
The frontier houses 1 preserve many of the features
of the logging-camp. .
Looking up Trout Stream, it seemed as wild a place
for a man to live as we had seen. What a difference
between a residence there and within five minutes'
walk of the depot! What different men the two lives
must turn out!
Oct. 7. P. M. To Cliffs and Walden.
Little chincapin oaks are partly turned, dull scarlet
or yellow as it may happen, nearly in prime, not fallen.
Some of their leaves (as well as of the white oak) are
gnawed into lace regularly about the edges. Horn-
1 [In Maine.]
1857] THE RED OF A MAPLE SWAMP
beam generally green still, but becoming yellowish-
brown and falling. Black alder still green. Elder is
greenish-yellow. I see some panicled andromeda dark-
red or crimson. Swamp-pink a dark reddish purple
where exposed. Beach plum begins to turp a clear pale
yellow in dry places. Sage willow is fairly yellowing
and some even falling.
Crossing Depot Brook, I see many yellow butter-
flies fluttering about the Aster puniceus, still abundantly
in bloom there.
I go across Bartonia Meadow direct to Bear Garden
Hill-side. Approaching the sand-slide, I see, some fifty
rods off, looking toward the sun, the top of the maple
swamp just appearing over the sheeny russet edge
of the hill, a strip, apparently twenty rods long and
ten feet deep, of the most intensely brilliant scarlet,
orange, and yellow, equal to any flowers or fruits or
any tints ever painted. As I advance, lowering the
edge. of the hill, which makes the firm foreground or
lower frame to the picture, the depth of this brilliant
grove revealed steadily increases, suggesting that the
whole of the concealed valley is filled with such color.1
As usual, there is one tree-top of an especially brilliant
scarlet, with which the others contrast.
One wonders that the tithing-men and fathers of
the town are not out to see what the trees mean by their
high colors and exuberance of spirits, fearing that
some mischief is brewing. I do not see what the Puri-
tans did at that season when the maples blazed out in
scarlet. They certainly could not have worshipped
I [Excursions, p. 262; Riv. 321, 322.]
in groves then. Perhaps that is what they built meet-
ing-houses and surrounded them with horse-sheds
No wonder we must have our annual cattle-show
and fall training and perhaps Cornwallis, our Septem-
ber courts, etc. Nature holds her annual fair and gala-
days in October in every hollow and on every hill-
Look into that hollow all aglow, where the trees
are clothed in their vestures of most dazzling tints.
Does it not suggest a thousand gypsies beneath, rows
of booths, and that man's spirits should rise as high,
that the routine of his life should be interrupted by
an analogous festivity and rejoicing ? 2
It is the reign of crickets now. You see them gliding
busily about over all sunny surfaces. They sometimes
get into my shoes; but oftener I have to empty out
the seeds of vaiious shrubs and weeds which I have
been compelled to transport.
Looking toward the sun from Lupine Bank, I see
bloody patches of blackberry vines amid the fine hoary
and sheeny grass of the pasture. Since the frosts such
pastures are already a hoary russet.
Some shrub oaks are yellow, others reddish.
When I turn round half-way up Fair Haven Hill,
by the orchard wall, and look northwest, I am surprised
for the thousandth time at the beauty of the landscape,
and I sit down to behold it at my leisure. I think that
Concord affords no better view. It is always incred-
[Excursions, pp. 262, 263; Riv. 322.]
2 [Excursions, p. 275; Riv. 337, 338.]
1857] AUTUMN FROM FAIR HAVEN HILL 73
ibly fair, but ordinarily we are mere objects in it, and
not witnesses of it. I see, through the bright October
air, a valley extending southwest and northeast and some
two miles across, so far I can see distinctly, with
a broad, yellow meadow tinged with brown at the
bottom, and a blue river winding slowly through it
northward, with a regular edging of low bushes on the
brink, of the same color with the meadow. Skirting
the meadow are straggling lines, and occasionally
large, masses a quarter of a mile wide, of brilliant
scarlet and yellow and crimson trees, backed by and
mingled with green forests and green and hoary russet
fields and hills; and on the hills around shoot up a
million scarlet and orange and yellow and crimson
fires amid the green; and here and there amid the
trees, often beneath the largest and most graceful of
those which have brown-yellow dome-like tops, are bright
white or gray houses; and beyond stretches a forest,
wreath upon wreath, and between each two wreaths
I know lies a similar vale; and far beyond all, on the
verge of the horizon, are half a dozen dark-blue moun-
tain-summits. Large birds of a brilliant blue and white
plumage are darting and screaming amid the glowing
foliage a quarter of a mile below, while smaller blue
birds warble faintly but sweetly around me.'
Such is the dwelling-place of man; but go to a cau-
cus in the village to-night or to a church to-morrow,
and see if there is anything said to suggest that the
inhabitants of those houses know what kind of world
they live in. But hark! I hear the tolling of a distant
SThe autumnal tints were more generally diffused there Oct. 10th.
funeral bell, and they are conveying a cprpse to the
churchyard from one of the houses that I see, and
its serious sound is more in harmony with this scenery
than any ordinary bustle could be. It suggests that
a man must die to his present life before he can appre-
ciate his opportunities and the beauty of the abode
that is appointed him.
I do not know how to entertain one who can't take
long walks. The first thing that suggests itself is to get
a horse to draw them, and that brings us at once into
contact with stablers and dirty harness, and I do not
get over my ride for a long time. I give up my fore-
noon to them and get along pretty well, the very elas-
ticity of the air and promise of the day abetting me,
but they are as heavy as dumplings by mid-afternoon.
If they can't walk, why won't they take an honest nap
and let me go in the afternoon ? But, come two o'clock,
they alarm me by an evident disposition to sit. In
the midst of the most glorious Indian-summer after-
noon, there they sit, breaking your chairs and wear-
ing out the house, with their backs to the light, taking
no note of the lapse of time.
As I sat on the high bank at the east end of Walden
this afternoon, at five o'clock, I saw, by a peculiar in-
tention or dividing of the eye, a very striking subaque-
ous rainbow-like phenomenon. A passer-by might,
perhaps would, have noticed that the bright-tinted
shrubs about the high shore on the sunny side were
reflected from the water; but, unless on the alert for
such effects, he would have failed to perceive the full
beauty of the phenomenon. Unless you look for re-
1857] WALDEN'S BRILLIANT BELT
flections, you commonly will not find them. Those
brilliant shrubs, which were from three to a dozen feet
in height, were all reflected, dimly so far as the details
of leaves, etc., were concerned, but brightly as to
color, and, of course, in the order in which they stood,
- scarlet, yellow, green, etc.; but, there being a slight
ripple on the surface, these reflections were not true
to their height though true to their breadth, but were
extended downward with mathematical perpendicu-
larity, three or four times too far, forming sharp pyra-
mids of the several colors, gradually reduced to mere
dusky points. The effect of this prolongation of the
reflection was a very pleasing softening and blending
of the colors, especially when a small bush of one bright
tint stood directly before another of a contrary and
equally bright tint. It was just as if you were to brush
firmly aside with your hand or a brush a fresh line of
paint of various colors, or so many lumps of friable
colored powders. There was, accordingly, a sort of
belt, as wide as the whole height of the hill, extending
downward along the whole north or sunny side of the
pond, composed of exceedingly short and narrow in-
verted pyramids of the most brilliant colors intermixed.
J-ha4e sedn, indeed, similar inverted pyramids in the
old drawings of tattooing about the waists of the abo-
rigines of this country. Walden, too, like an Indian
maiden, wears this broad rainbow-like belt of brilliant-
colored points or cones round her waist in October.
The color seems to be reflected and re-reflected from
ripple to ripple, losing brightness each time by the
softest possible gradation, and tapering toward the
beholder, since he occupies a mere point of view.
This is one of the prettiest effects of the autumnal
The harvest of leaves is at hand in some valleys,
and generally the young deciduous trees on hillsides
have the brilliant tint of ripe fruits. Already many
windfalls strew the ground under the maples and elms,
etc. 'see one or two maple shrubs quite bare, while
many large maples are still quite green.
In that rainbow belt we have color, which is com-
monly so rare and precious and confined to precious
stones, in the utmost profusion. The ripples convey
the reflection toward us, till all the color is winnowed
out and spilled between them and only the dusky
points reach near to this side where we stand. It is
as if a broad belt (or waist-cloth) of sharp and narrow
inverted cones or pyramids of bright colors, softly
blended like fairy worsted work, their bases rising to
a line mathematically level about the waist of the pond.
That fall river Indian, like the Almouchicois generally,
wore a belt of hollow tubes.
It was strange that only the funeral bell was in har-
mony with that scene, while other sounds were too
frivolous and trivial, as if only through the gate of
death would man come to appreciate his opportuni-
ties and the beauty of the world he has abused. In
proportion as death is more earnest than life, it is bet-
ter than life.
The sun set just before I reached the railroad cause-
way on my return, but then there was not a cloud to
be seen in the horizon. Coming through the Irish [sic]
1857] A RABBIT'S LIVING TOMB
field, the mountains were purple, much redder than
a grape. .
That simple and mild nasal chant 1 affected me like
the dawn of civilization to the wilderness. I thought of
"Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutored mind," etc.
There is always a slight haze or mist on the brow of
the Indian. The white man's brow is clear and distinct.
It is eleven o'clock in the forenoon with him. It is
four o'clock in the morning with the Indian.
Oct. 8. P. M. Up Assabet.
Hemlock leaves are copiously falling. They cover
the hillside like some wild grain. The changing red
maples along the river are past their prime now, ear-
lier than generally elsewhere. They are much faded,
and many leaves are floating on the water. Those white
maples that were so early to change in thp water have
more than half lost their leaves.
Walking through the Lee farm swamp, a dozen or
more rods from the river, I found a large box trap
closed. I opened it and found in it the remains of a
gray rabbit, skin, bones, and mould, closely fitting
the right-angled corner of one side. It was wholly
inoffensive, as so much vegetable mould, and must
have been dead some years. None of the furniture of
the trap remained, but the box itself, with a lid which
just moved on two rusty nails; the stick which held
the bait, the string, etc., etc., were all gone. The box
had the appearance of having been floated off in an
upright position by a freshet. It had been a rabbit's
1 [See Maine Woods, pp. 197, 198; Riv. 244.]
living tomb. He had gradually starved to death in it.
What a tragedy to have occurred within a box in one
of our quiet swamps! The trapper lost his box, the
rabbit its life. The box had not been gnawed. After
days and nights of moaning and struggle, heard for
a few rods through the swamp, increasing weakness
and emaciation and delirium, the rabbit breathes its
last. They tell you of opening the tomb and finding
by the contortions of the body that it was buried alive.
This was such a case. Let the trapping boy dream of
the dead rabbit in its ark, as it sailed, like a small
meeting-house with its rude spire, slowly, with a grand
and solemn motion, far amid the alders.
Four dark-colored ducks (white beneath), maybe
summer, or teal (??), with a loud creaking note of
alarm, flew away from near the shore and followed
the bend of the river upward.
I see and hear white-throated sparrows on the swamp
white oaks by the river's edge, uttering a faint sharp
The chipmunk,' the wall-going squirrel, that will
cross a broad pasture on the wall, now this side, now
that, now on top, and lives under it, as if it were
a track laid for him expressly.
Oct. 9. P. M. To Dugan Desert and Ministerial
The elms are now at the height of their change. As I
look down our street, which is lined with them, now
clothed in their very rich brownish-yellow dress, they
1 An allied one is called the wall-mouse in the West.
remind me of yellowing sheaves of grain, as if the har-
vest had come to the village itself, and we might ex-
pect to find some maturity and flavor in the thoughts
of the villagers at last. Under those light-rustling
yellow piles, just ready to fall on the heads of the
walker, how can any crudity or greenness of thought
or act prevail? The street is a great harvest-home. It
would be worth the while to set out these trees, if only
for their autumnal value. Think of these great yellow
canopies or parasols held over our heads and houses
by the mile together, making the village all one and
compact, an ulmarium. 'And then how gently and un-
observed they drop their burdens and let in the sun
when it is wanted, their leaves not heard when they
fall on our roofs an'd in our streets.
I see the traveller driving into the village under its
canopy of elm-tops, with his crop, as into a great
granary or barn-yard. I am tempted to go thither
as to a husking of thoughts, now dry and ripe and
ready to be separated from their integuments, but I
foresee that it will be chiefly husks and little thought,
blasted pig-corn, fit only for cob-meal.1 Is there,
then, indeed, no thought under this ample husk of
conversation and manners? There is the sermon
husk, the lecture husk, and the book husk, and are
they all only good to make mats of and tread under
Looking from railroad bridge, birches are perhaps
at the height of their change now; hickories are about
the color of elms or a little browner; balm-of-Gileads,
I [Excursions, pp. 263, 264; Riv. 322-324.]
about as birches; many ash trees are a mere finely
divided dull-reddish color; swamp white oaks are green,
yellow, and brown, much less ripe than elms, not
much yellowed yet.
Under the pines by the Clamshell, that fine purple
grass is now withered and faded to a very light brown
which reflects the autumnal light. Patches of rabbit's
clover amid the blackberry vines are now quite hoary
if not silvery. I thought it a mass of Aster Tradescanti
at first, but they are not so common. Many plants,
like them, remind you by their color of the frosts.
Sprout-lands, with their oAks, chestnuts, etc., etc.,
are now at their height of color.
From Lupine Hill, not only the maples, etc., have
acquired brighter tints at this season, but the pines,
by contrast, appear to have acquired a new and more
liquid green, and to some extent this is true, where
their old leaves have chiefly fallen, which is not yet
generally the case, however.
I see now that, near the river and low on the mead-
ows, the maple stands with paled fires, burned out,
thin-leaved, a salmon or faint cherry tint, ready to
surrender to the first smart frost.
It has come to this, that the lover of art is one,
and the lover of nature another, though true art is
but the expression of our love of nature. It is monstrous
when one cares but little about trees but much about
Corinthian columns, and yet this is exceedingly com-
Scarlet oaks have fairly begun to blaze, espe-
cially their lower limbs, in low places which have
1857] AN IRISHMAN DIGGING MUD
most felt the frost. Hazels at their height, varying from
green through dull crimson to dull scarlet.
Going along the mill road, the common shrub oaks
make a dull-red or salmon impression in the mass at a
little distance, from which brighter scarlet oaks stand out.
On F. Wheeler's clearing, over the swamp, many
shrub oak leaves fallen, laying bare the acorns, which
are browned. Many leaves already thickly strew the
dry, sandy ground.
In the swamp, some twenty-foot maples are already
bare, and some white pines are as yellow as birches.
The spruces appear unchanged, even close at hand,
though many leaves have fallen and are falling. The
Viburnum nudum in the swamp is a clear handsome
crimson. The young cherry yellow, with a faint cherry
tinge. The mulberry is browned and falling, though
it is but slightly tinged with yellow.
I see an Irishman digging mud at Harrington's
mud-hole. He digs it out rapidly, a hole four feet
wide by eight long, leaving a water-tight partition,
eighteen or twenty inches wide, on two sides next the
water. At three feet it is clear white sand, whiter than
common sand-hills. Why ? Why is there no stain of
vegetation in it? It requires some skill to save much
of the partition at last. This man first pares off the
top nearly to the level of the water, then, standing
on it, digs it away as the. water rushes in, though
it fills it before he has got a foot, and he thus saves
about half its depth. No doubt his work is the more
amusing for requiring this exercise of thought.
Saw a jay stealing corn from a stack in a field.
Oct. 10. P. M. To Walden over Fair Haven Hill.
Some Prinos verticillatus yellowing and browning
at once, and in low ground just falling and leaving
the bright berries bare.
From the upper side of Wheeler's clearing on Fair
Haven Hill, I see five smokes, now at 3.30 P. M., -
one toward Lexington, one over Bedford, one over
Billerica, one, very copious, as much further north,
and one over Carlisle. These are all dark, seen against
the sky and from the sun, and, except the first, appar-
ently beyond the respective towns. Going over to
the southwest side of the hill, I see one large wide-
spread smoke toward Wachusett and rising against
it, apparently beyond the height of land between the
Concord and Nashua, and another much nearer,
.toward Stow. These two are light, or smoke-colored,
because seen more toward the sun, perhaps; or is it
solely because seen against the mountain and woods?
There is another, the eighth, a little south of west, nearly
under the sun, but this, being very distant and seen
against the sky, is dusky. I could not see south and
I think that these smokes are the most distant sign
of the presence of man on the globe that I detect with
my unarmed eye, of man's cohabitancy. I see the
evidence that so many farmers with their hired men
and boys are at work in their clearings from five to
fifteen miles off. I see this smoky telegraph for hours
marking the locality and occupation of some farmer
and suggesting peaceful rural enterprises and improve-
ments which I may yet see described in the agricul-
1857] THE TELLTALE SMOKES
tural reports, though I may never have seen, and per-
haps never shall see, that farm or farmer. Considering
the slight evidence I have of their existence, they are
as far away as if in another quarter of the globe. Some-
times the smoke is seen beyond a distant range of hills,
spreading along, low and bluish, seen against a more
distant hill or mountain; at others it is a column faintly
and dimly seen against the horizon, but more distinctly
revealed by a dusky but cloud-like expansion above.
It may be a dusky almost level bar, slanting upward
a little, like a narrow banner. The smokes from a
dozen clearings far and wide, from a portion of the
earth thirty miles or more in diameter, reveal the em-
ployment of many husbandmen at this season. Thus
I see the woods burned up from year to year. The
telltale smokes reveal it. The smokes will become
rarer and thinner year by year, till I shall detect only
a mere feathery film and there is no more brush to be
Generally speaking, the autumnal tints affect the
color of the landscape for only two or three miles,
but I distinguish maples by their color half a mile
north of Brooks Clark's, or some three miles distant,
from this hill, one further east very bright. Also
I see them in the northeast, or on or near, apparently,
a road between Bedford and Billerica, at least four
or five miles distant! This is the furthest I can see
Descend from Fair Haven Hill through Stow's
sprout-land to railroad. See chincapin oaks in frosty
places sere brown and ready to fall, while in others
they are still green, in woods. They turn of various
colors, some quite handsome clear scarlet or red.
Many young white oaks in similar frosty places are
all withered and shrivelled. I see in the woods some
Smilacina racemosa leaves, which are usually a
uniform pale-brown, very wildly and remarkably
marked, weirdly. They are pale-brown, almost
white, and somewhat curled, varied with rectilinear
broad black (brown, seen close to) marks along the
veins, say one inch, more or less, long by one tenth
inch wide, with square covers. (Suppose you were
to have a neckerchief after this pattern!) The whole
plant gracefully bent almost horizontally with the
weight of its dense raceme of bright cherry-red berries
at the end.
Generally speaking, chestnuts, hickories, aspens, and
some other trees attain a fair clear yellow only in small
specimens in the woods or sprout-lands, or in their
You see now in sprout-lands young scarlet oaks of
every degree of brightness from green to dark scarlet.
It is a beautifully formed leaf, with its broad, free,
open sinuses, worthy to be copied in sculpture. A
very agreeable form, a bold, deep scallop, as if the
material were cheap. Like tracery. The color is more
mingled with light than in the less deeply scalloped oak
leaves. It is a less simple form. Though the connected
outline is a broad oval, it is much improved by deep
bays of light, as a simple oval pond would be im-
proved by four or five broad, rounded promontories
extending far into it on different sides, while the watery
bays, instead of being rounded at bottom, extended
far inland in sharp friths. The leaf suggests a lavish
expense in the creation of those deep scallops, as if
sco much material had been cut out and thrown away.1
This is the end of the sixth day of glorious weather,
which I am tempted to call the finest in the year, so
bright and serene the air and such a sheen from the
earth, so brilliant the foliage, so pleasantly warm
(except, perhaps, this day, which is cooler), too warm
for a thick coat, -yet not sultry nor oppressive, so
ripe the season and our thoughts. Certainly these
are the most brilliant days in the year, ushered in,
perhaps, by a frosty morning, as this. As a dewy morn-
ing in the summer compared with a parched and sultry,
languid one, so a frosty morning at this season com-
pared with a merely dry or foggy one. These days
you may say the year is ripened like a fruit by frost,
and puts on brilliant tints of maturity but not yet of
decay. It is not sere and withered as in November.
See the heaps of apples in the fields and at the cider-
mill, of pumpkins in the fields, and the stacks of corn-
stalks and the standing corn. Such is the season.
The morning frosts have left a silvery hue on the fine
pasture grasses. They have faded to a kindred color.
Oct. 11. Sunday. P. M.- Up Assabet.
River lower than before since winter at least; very low.
Another frost last night, although with fog, and this
afternoon the maple and other leaves strew the water,
and it is almost a leaf harvest. I see some fine clear
[Excursions, pp. 279, 280; Riv. 342, 343.]
yellows from the Rhus Toxicodendron on the bank
by the hemlocks and beyond. The osmunda ferns
are generally withered and brown except where very
much protected from frost. The O. regalis is the least.
generally withered of them. The onoclea is much
later and still generally green along the bank, or faded
white here and there.
Looking at the reflection of the bank by the Hem-
locks, the reflected sun dazzles me, and I approach
nearer to the bank in order to shut it out (of course
it disappears sooner in the reflection than the sub-
stance, because every head is raised above the level
of the water), and I see in the reflection the fine, slender
grasses on the sharp or well-defined edge of the bank
all glowing with silvery light, a singularly silvery light
to be seen in the water [ ? ], and whose substance I can-
not see to advantage with my head thus high, since
the sun is in the way.
This is the seventh day of glorious weather. Per-
haps these might be called Harvest Days. Within
the week most of the apples have been gathered; po-
tatoes are being dug; corn is still left in the fields,
though the stalks are being carried in. Others are
ditching and getting out mud and cutting up bushes
along fences, what is called "brushing up," burn-
ing brush, etc.
These are cricket days.
The river is so low that I run against several rocks,
which I must have floated over three or four days ago,
and I see many snags and water-logged trunks on the
bottom or partly exposed, which were then invisible.
AN OLD GRIST-MILL
It is remarkable how many trees maple and
swamp white [oak], etc, which stand on the bank
of the river, being undermined by the water or broken
off by the ice or other cause, fall into the stream and
finally sink to the bottom and are half buried there
for many years. A great deal of wood, especially of
the kinds named, is thus lost. They last longer there
probably than in favorable localities out of water. I
see/still the timber foundation of an old damn just above
Spencer Brook, extending across the river on the bot-
tom, though there has been nothing above water
within my recollection. The large black oaks in front
of-Prescolt Barrett's are one by one falling into the
river, and there are none to succeed them. They were
probably left to skirt the stream when the other wood
was cut, and now, when they are undermined, there
are none behind to supply their places.
Mr. Conant of Acton tells me that there was a grist-
mill built over the river there by Sam Barrett's grand-
father, and that he remembers going to it when he was
fourteen. He went in at the Lee house and crossed the
river by a bridge at the mill. He says that it is as much
as sixty years since the mill was standing. Minott
thinks it is not quite so long since. He remembers
the bridge there, not a town one, nor strong enough
for a horse and cart. Thinks the mill was discontinued
because. Dr. Lee complained of its flowing his wood-
land. They used to stop with their carts this side and
carry their bags back and forth over the bridge on their
shoulders. Used a small and poor road across to Lee's
Oct. 12. P. M. To Annursnack.
The eighth fine day, warmer than the last two. I
find one or two house-leek blossoms even yet fresh,
and all the rest crisp. The fringed gentian by the brook
opposite is in its prime, and also along the north edge
of the Painted-Cup Meadows. The stems of the blue
vervain, whose flowers and leaves are withered and
brown, are nearly as handsome and clear a purple
as those of the poke have been, from top to bottom.
Looking from the Hill. The autumnal tints gener-
ally are much duller now than three or four days ago,
or before the last two frosts. I am not sure but the
yellow now prevails over the red in the landscape,
and even over the green. The general color of the
landscape from this hill is now russet, i. e. red, yellow,
etc., mingled. The maple fires are generally about burnt
out. Yet I can see very plainly the colors of the sprout-
land, chiefly oak, on Fair Haven Hill, about four miles
distant, and also yellows on Mt. Misery, five miles off,
also on Pine Hill, and even on Mt. Tabor, indistinctly.
Eastward, I distinguish red or yellow in the woods as
far as the horizon, and it is most distant on that side,
- six miles, at least.
The huckleberries on Nagog Hill are very red. The
smaller and tenderer weeds were in their prime, me-
thinks, some weeks ago. They have felt the frosts
earlier than the maples and other trees, and are now
I see a very distant mountain house in a direction
a little to the west of Carlisle, and two elms in the hori-
zon on the right of it. Measuring carefully on the map
A DISTANT ELM
of the county, I think it must be the Baptist Church
in North Tewksbury, within a small fraction of four-
teen miles from me. I think that this is the greatest
distance at which I have seen an elm without a glass.
There is another elm in the horizon nearly north, but
not so far. It looks very much larger than it is. Per-
haps it looms a little. The elm, I think, can be distin-
guished further than any other tree, and, however
faintly seen in the distant horizon, its little dark dome,
which the thickness of my nail will conceal, just rising
above the line of the horizon, apparently not so big as
a prominence on an orange, it suggests ever the same
quiet rural and domestic life passing beneath it. It
is the vignette to an unseen idyllic poem. Though that
little prominence appears so daik there, I know that
it is now a rich brownish-yellow canopy of rustling
leaves, whose harvest-time is already come, sending
down its showers from time to time. Homestead tele-
graphs to homestead through these distant elms seen
from the hilltops. I fancy I hear the house-dog's bark
and lowing of the cows asking admittance to their
yard beneath it. The tea-table is spread; the master
and mistress and the hired men now have just sat
down in their shirt-sleeves. Some are so lifted up in
the horizon that they seem like portions of the earth
detached and floating off by themselves into space.
Their dark masses against the sky can be seen as far,
at least, as a white spire, though it may be taller. Some
of these trees, seen through a glass, are not so large. .
This was what those scamps did in California. The
trees were so grand and venerable that they could not