THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Along the Old M.l', '..i.,rjl, Road in November
THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
EDITED BY BRADFORD TORREY
AUGUST 1, 1860-NOVEMBER 3, 1861
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
(Ibe iibereite iress, Cambribe0
COPYRIGHT 1906 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
All rights reserved
CHAPTER I. August, 1860 (Air. 43) 3
Unperceived Beauty A Brilliant Yellow Valley Red
Maple Swamps Seeds and the Seed-Eaters- Ascending
Mt. Monadnock Cattle and Salt Building a Hut In
Camp on the Mountain Monadnock Blueberries Moun-
tain Cranberries- A New Camp- The Swamps of the
Mountain The Mountain Pastures The View from
Monadnock The Submontane Cock The Geography of
Fog The Plants of the Summit The Scrub Spruce The
Prevailing Plants The Birds of the Mountain The Habits
of the Nighthawks Quadrupeds, Insects, and Frogs Vis-
itors to the Summit-- The Topography of the Summit -
Ponds seen from Monadnock The Monadnock Rocks -
Bogs and Pools Cladonia Lichens The Clouds of the
Mountain The Water of the Summit A Thistle-Down
Outfit and Provisions A Hoary Bat Solitary Tattlers
The River-Bank past prime Property Rights in Berries
Indian Relics The Walden Water High Blueberries -
Foam on a Pond-Shore The Alder Locust Sunset on Wal-
den The Hairy Huckleberry Lemna.
CHAPTER II. September, 1860 (AET. 43) 69
The Seed of Forest Trees The Transportation of Cherry-
Stones Dissemination Red Maple Seed Mikania -
Desmodium Seeds and Superstition- Brassica "Dew-
Grass" A Canada Lynx A Dark and Stormy Night -
The Current of the River The Canada Lynx Mr. Davis's
Museum The First Autumnal Day Winged and Wingless
Seeds The Early Botanists' Descriptions Nature's Forestry
The Geiropodium Fungus A Little Dipper with Tame
Ducks Black Frosts.
CHAPTER III. October, 1860 (AET. 43)
The Work of the Frosts A Fish Hawk Crows eating
Acorns Hayden and his Corn-Field The Woods after a
Fire- Arctic Three-toed Woodpeckers- The Red Maples
Lily Pads in a New Pond Fire and Water An Abun-
dant Crop of White Oak Acorns The Aristocratic Pears A
White Oak Year Water-Lily Seed-Pods Scientific Descrip-
tions The Best Descriptions The Washington Elm's Crop
of Leaves Vivacious Roots of Trees Black Cherry Trees
The Forms of Pine Groves Wood Lot Histories The
Growth of Young Oaks A Poor Husbandman Starved
Pastures Trees which grow in Masses The Succession of
Trees Seedling Chestnuts Chestnut Woods A Young
Oak Seedling The Second Growth The Concord Lynx
Decayed Acorns The Best Oak Woods The Stocking
of a Pool The Development Theory The Battle of the
Pines Huckleberry Bushes The Age of an Oak Lot -
An Old Wood-Lot A Classification of Woods- A Tame
Squirrel Galls and Gall-Flies Oak and Pine Stumps -
Our Gratitude to the Squirrels An Old Pitch Pine The
Mortality of Seeds and Eggs Checkered Adders Emer-
son's Wood-Lot Wood-Lot Studies Large Puffballs A
Silk-lined Cradle A Chestnut Lot Seedling Oaks under
Pines Mixed Woods A Large Chestnut Stump A Pitch
Pine Wood Old Stumps Pasture Oaks The Growth
of Pitch Pines The Loring Lot Squirrels and Pine Seed
-The Forest-Planters Threshing.
CHAPTER IV. November, 1860 (ET. 43)
The Growth of Pitch Pines List of White Pine Woods -
List of Pitch Pine Woods List of Hardwood Lots White
Oaks The Vaccinia Old Stumps Wormy Acorns A
Great White Oak Slow Growth and Soundness Cows and
Pasture Trees Sugar Maples "Fire-Weeds" Tufts of
Dead Indigo-Weed Manasseh Cutler on Whortleberries -
The Inches Woods The Canada Lynx The Growth of
Pitch Pines Old Oak Stumps The Inches Woods again -
Blood's Woods How they do things in West Acton A Bit
of Sharp Practice Teasel-Raising Little Auks Counting
Rings in Stumps Pulling Turnips Railroad Sleepers -
A Beautiful November Day The Foreign Land of Sudbury
Fruits, Native and Tropical Sprouted Acorns The
First Flurry of Snow A Boy's Box Trap A Cohort of
Crows Seedling White Pines Pitch Pines A Nuthatch
The Fruits of New England The History of Boxboro -
Fruits and Commerce The Use of Juniper Berries Succes-
sors to the Pitch Pines The Hillside-loving Walnut The
Money Value of a Lynx The Price of a Man Moonshine.
CHAPTER V. December, 1860 (ET. 43) 285
Young Hickories An Opinion of John Brown A Fugitive
Slave in Canada False Gods A Red Owl Civilization
and Berries Crows and a Snapping Turtle The Whortle-
berry Family Blueberries.
CHAPTER VI. 1861 (XET. 43-44) 303
Our Wild Fruits The Preservation of Natural Features -
Ownership of Mountain-Tops Going Across Lots The
Thrifty Farmer- The Object of Existence- The Indians
and Edible Berries Huckleberry Cake Notes from Read-
ing Nature's Leisureliness A Talk with Rice A Kitten
"Carolina Sports" The Squirrel and the Cone The
First Bluebird The Winter's Snow The Dissemination of
the Birch Walden Open Grandmother's Dog The Wil-
lows The Various Habits of Men Genuine Histories -
The Greediness of Species Naturalized Plants Spon-
taneous Generation Buttonwood Seed Going to Law -
Horace Mann, Jr. On the Way to Minnesota The Kitten
Birds about the House on a Rainy Day Concord and
the War An Interesting Invention A Young Kitten.
ALONG THE OLD MARLBOROUGH ROAD IN
NOVEMBER (page 257) Frontispiece
MT. MONADNOCK FROM THE TROY ROAD 10
OLD CHESTNUT TREES ON A HILLTOP IN
BLUEBERRY BLOSSOMS 300
HEPATICA AND BLOODROOT 338
THOREAU'S GRAVE 342
MAP OF CONCORD (Showing localities mentioned by
Thoreau in his Journal. Compiled by Herbert W.
THE JOURNAL OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
AUGUST, 1860 (ET. 48)
Aug. 1. P. M. To Cliffs.
The earliest corn has shed its pollen, say a week or
ten days. Rye, wheat, and oats and barley have bloomed,
say a month.
I stand at the wall-end on the Cliffs and look over
the Miles meadow on Conantum. It is an unusually
clear day after yesterday's rain.
How much of beauty of color, as well as form -
on which our eyes daily rest goes unperceived by us!
No one but a botanist is likely to distinguish nicely the
different shades of green with which the open surface of
the earth is clothed, not even a landscape-painter if
he does not know the species of sedges and grasses
which paint it. With respect to the color of grass, most
of those even who attend peculiarly to the aspects of
Nature only observe that it is more or less dark or light,
green or brown, or velvety, fresh or parched, etc. But
if you are studying grasses you look for another and
different beauty, and you find it, in the wonderful
variety of color, etc., presented by the various species.
Take the bare, unwooded earth now, and consider the
beautiful variety of shades (or tints?) of green that
clothe it under a bright sun. The pastured hills of
Conantum, now just imbrowned (probably by the few
now stale flowering tops of the red-top which the cows
have avoided as too wiry), present a hard and solid
green or greenish brown, just touched here and there
delicately with light patches of sheep's fescue (though
it may be only its radical leaves left), as if a dew lay on
it there, and this has some of the effect of a watered
surface, and the whole is dotted with a thousand
little shades of projecting rocks and shrubs. Then,
looking lower at the meadow in Miles's field, that is
seen as a bright-yellow and sunny stream (yet with a
slight tinge of glaucous) between the dark-green potato-
fields, flowing onward with windings and expansions,
and, as it were, with rips and waterfalls, to the river
Again, I sit on the brow of the orchard, and look
northwest down the river valley (at mid-afternoon).
There flows, or rests, the calm blue winiting river, lake-
like, with its smooth silver-plated sides, and wherever
weeds extend across it, there too the silver plate bridges
it, like a spirit's bridge across the Styx; but the rippled
portions are blue as the sky. This river reposes in the
midst of a broad brilliant yellow valley amid green
fields and hills and woods, as if, like the Nanking or
Yang-ho (or what-not), it flowed through an Oriental
Chinese meadow where yellow, is the imperial color.
The immediate and raised edge of the river, with its
willows and button-bushes and polygonums, is a light
1860] A BRILLIANT YELLOW VALLEY
green, but the immediately adjacent low meadows,
where the sedge prevails, is a brilliant and cheerful
yellow, intensely, incredibly bright, such color as you
never see in pictures; yellow of various tints, in the
lowest and sedgiest parts deepening to so much color
as if gamboge had been rubbed into the meadow there;
the most cheering color in all the landscape; shaded
with little darker isles of green in the midst of this yellow
sea of sedge. Yet it is the bright and cheerful yellow, as
of spring, and with nothing in the least autumnal in it.
How this contrasts with the adjacent fields of red-top,
now fast falling before the scythe!
When your attention has been drawn to them, nothing
is more charming than the common colors of the earth's
surface. See yonder flashing field of corn through the
shimmering air. (This was said day before yesterday.)
The deciduous woods generally have now and for a
long time been nearly as dark as the pines, though,
unlike the pines, they show a general silveriness.
For some days have seen stigmas of what I have
called Cyperus dentatus, but it is evidently later than the
See a berry (not ripe) of the two-leaved Solomon's-
seal dropped at the mouth of a mouse or squirrel's hole,
and observe that many are gone from these plants, as if
plucked by mice.
* The sphagnum shows little black-balled drumsticks
now. The nuthatch is active now. Meadow-haying
commenced. Cinna arundinacea (?) almost.
Looked in two red maple swamps to find the young
plants. If you look carefully through a dense red maple
swamp now, you find many little maples a couple of
inches high which have sprung up chiefly on certain
spots alone, especially where the seed has fallen on little
beds of sphagnum, which apparently have concealed
the seed at the same time that they supplied the neces-
sary moisture. There you find the little tree already
deeply rooted, while the now useless winged seed lies
empty near by, with its fragile wing half wasted away, as
if wholly unrelated to that plant, not visibly attached,
but lying empty on one side. But so far as I look, I see
only one maple to a seed, but, indeed, I see only a single
seed at a time. You do not find dense groves of them
generally, as you might expect from the abundance of
seed that falls.
Nevertheless, you will be surprised, on looking through
a large maple swamp which two months ago was red
with maple seed falling in showers around, at the very
small number of maple seeds to be found there, and
probably every one of these will be empty. The little
maples appear oftenest to have sprung from such as
fell into crevices in the moss or leaves and so escaped.
Indeed, almost every seed that falls to the earth is picked
up by some animal or other whose favorite and perhaps
peculiar food it is. They are daily busy about it in the
season, and the few seeds which escape are exceptions.
There is at least a squirrel or mouse to a tree. If you
postpone your search but for a short time, you find
yourself only gleaning after them. You may find several
of their holes under every tree, if not within it. They
ransack the woods. Though the seed may be almost
microscopic, it is nuts to them; and this apparently is
1860] SEEDS AND THE SEED-EATERS
one of the principal ends which these seeds were
intended to serve.
Look under a nut tree a month after the nuts have
fallen, and see what proportion of sound nuts to the
abortive ones and shells you will find ordinarily. They
have been dispersed, and many effectually planted, far
and wide by animals. You have come, you would
say, after the feast was over, and are presented with
shells only. It looks like a platform before a grocery.
These little creatures must live, and, pray, what are
they to eat if not the fruits of the earth ? i. e. the
graminivorous [sic] ones.1
Aug. 2. The wing of the sugar maples is dry and ripe
to look at, but the seed end and seed are quite green. I
find, as Michaux did, one seed always abortive.
P. M. Up Assabet.
The young red maples have sprung up chiefly on the
sandy and muddy shores, especially where there is a
bay or eddy.
At 2 p. M. the river is twelve and seven eighths above
summer level, higher than for a long time, on account
of the rain of the 31st. Seed of hop-hornbeam not ripe.
The button-bush is about in prime, and white lilies con-
siderably past prime. Mikania begun, and now, per-
haps, the river's brink is at its height. The black
willow down is even yet still seen here and there on
The river, being raised three or four inches, looks
quite full, and the bur-reed, etc., is floating off in con-
siderable masses. See those round white patches of
eggs on the upright sides of dark rocks.
There is now and of late a very thin, in some lights
purplish, scum on the water, outside of coarser drift
that has lodged, a brown scum, somewhat gossamer-
like as it lies, and browner still on your finger when you
take it up. What is it? The pollen of some plant?
As we rest in our boat under a tree, we hear from time
to time the loud snap of a wood pewee's bill overhead,
which is incessantly diving to this side and that after
an insect and returning to its perch on a dead twig. We
hear the sound of its bill when it catches one.
In huckle-berry fields I see the seeds of berries recently
left on the rocks where birds have perched. How many
of these small fruits they may thus disseminate!
Aug. 3. The knotty-rooted cyperus out some days at
Aug. 4. 8.30 A. M. Start for Monadnock.'
Begins to rain at 9 A. M., and rains from time to time
thereafter all day, the mountain-top being constantly
enveloped in clouds.
Notice in Troy much of the cyperinus variety of wool-
grass, now done, of various heights. Also, by roadside,
the Ribes Cynosbati, with its prickly berries now partly
reddened but hardly ripe. Am exhilarated by the pecul-
iar raspberry scent by the roadside this wet day and
of the dicksonia fern. Raspberries still quite common,
1 [See account of the Monadnock excursion in Familiar Letters,
pp. 368-372; Riv. 428-433.]
though late. The high blackberries, the mulberry kind,
all still green and red; and also on the 9th, except one
berry on a rock.
There was a little sunshine on our way to the moun-
tain, but the cloud extended far down its sides all day,
so that one while we mistook Gap Monadnock for the
true mountain, which was more to the north.
According to the guide-board it is two and one fourth
miles from Troy to the first fork in the road near the
little pond and schoolhouse, and I should say it was near
two miles from there to the summit, all the way up-
hill from the meadow.
We crossed the immense rocky and springy pastures,
containing at first raspberries, but much more hard-
hack in flower, reddening them afar, where cattle and
horses collected about us, sometimes came running to
us, as we thought for society, but probably not. I told
Bent of it, how they gathered about us, they were so
glad to see a human being, but he said I might put
it in my book so, it would do no harm, but then the fact
was they came about me for salt. "Well," said I, "it
was probably because I had so much salt in my constitu-
tion." Said he, "If you had had a little salt with you [you]
could hardly have got away from them." "Well," said
I, [I] had some salt in my pocket." "That's what they
smelt," said he. Cattle, young and old, with horns in all
stages of growth,- young heifers with budding horns,
-and horses with a weak [ ? ] Sleepy-David look, though
sleek and handsome. They gathered around us while
we took shelter under a black spruce from the rain.
We were wet up to our knees before reaching the
woods or steep ascent where we entered the cloud. It
was quite dark and wet in the woods, from which we
emerged into the lighter cloud about 3 P. M., and pro-
ceeded to construct our camp, in the cloud occasionally
amounting to rain, where I camped some two years ago.
Choosing a place where the spruce was thick in this
sunken rock yard, I cut out with a little hatchet a space
for a camp in their midst, leaving two stout ones six
feet apart to rest my ridge-pole on, and such limbs of
these as would best form the gable ends. I then cut four
spruces as rafters for the gable ends, leaving the stub
ends of the branches to rest the cross-beams or girders
on, of which there were two or three to each slope; and
I made the roof very steep. Then cut an abundance of
large flat spruce limbs, four or five feet long, and laid
them on, shingle-fashion, beginning at the ground and
covering the stub ends. This made'a foundation for
two or three similar layers of smaller twigs. Then made
a bed of the same, closed up the ends somewhat, and all
was done. All these twigs and boughs, of course, were
dripping wet, and we were wet through up to our mid-
dles. But we made a good fire at the door, and in an
hour or two were completely dried.
1860] IN CAMP ON THE MOUNTAIN
The most thickly leaved and flattest limbs of the
spruce are such as spread flat over the rocks far and
wide (while the upper ones were more bushy and less
flat); not the very lowest, which were often partly un-
der the surface and but meagrely leafed, but those close
Standing and sitting before the fire which we kindled
under a shelving rock, we could dry us much quicker
than at any fireside below, for, what with stoves and
reduced fireplaces, they could not have furnished such
blaze or heat in any inn's [?] kitchen or parlor. This
fire was exactly on the site of my old camp, and we
burned a hole deep into the withered remains of its roof
It began to clear up and a star appeared at 8 p. M.
Lightning was seen far in the south. Cloud, drift-
ing cloud, alternated with moonlight all the rest of
the night. At 11.30 P. M. I heard a nighthawk. Maybe
it hunted then because prevented by the cloud at even-
I heard from time to time through the night a distant
sound like thunder or a falling of a pile of lumber, and
I suspect that this may have been the booming of night-
hawks at a distance.
Aug. 5. The wind changed to northerly toward
morning, falling down from over the summit and sweep-
ing through our camp, open on that side, and we found
it rather cold!
About an hour before sunrise we heard again the
nighthawk; also the robin, chewink, song sparrow,
Fringilla hyemalis; and the wood thrush from the woods
Had a grand view of the summit on the north now,
it being clear. I set my watch each morning by sunrise,
and this morning the lichens on the rocks of the south-
ernmost summit (south of us), just lit by the rising sun,
presented a peculiar yellowish or reddish brown light
(being wet) which they did not any morning afterward.
The rocks of the main summit were olive-brown, and
C. called it the Mount of Olives.
I had gone out before sunrise to gather blueberries,
-fresh, dewy (because wet with yesterday's rain),
almost crispy blueberries, just in prime, much cooler
and more grateful at this hour, and was surprised to
hear the voice of people rushing up the mountain for
berries in the wet, even at this hour. These alternated
with bright light-scarlet bunchberries not quite in prime.
The sides and angles of the cliffs, and their rounded
brows (but especially their southeast angles, for I saw
very little afterward on the north side; indeed, the cliffs
or precipices are not on that side), were clothed with
these now lively olive-brown lichens (umbilicaria), alike
in sun and shade, becoming afterward and generally
dark olive-brown when dry. Vide my specimens. Many
of the names inscribed on the summit were produced
by merely rubbing off the lichens, and they are thus
distinct for years.
At 7.30 A. Mi. for the most part in cloud here, but the
country below in sunshine. We soon after set out to
walk to the lower southern spur of the mountain. It is
chiefly a bare gray and extremely diversified rocky sur-
1860] MONADNOCK BLUEBERRIES
face, with here and there a spruce or other small tree
or bush, or patches of them, or a little shallow marsh
on the rock; and the whole mountain-top for two miles
was covered, on countless little shelves and in hollows
between the rocks, with low blueberries of two or more
species or varieties, just in their prime. They are said
to be later here than below. Beside the kinds (black
and blue Pennsylvanicum) common with us, there was
the downy Vaccinium Canadense and a form or forms
intermediate between this and the former, i. e. of like
form but less hairy. The Vaccinium Canadense has a
larger leaf and more recurved and undulating on its
surface, and generally a lighter green than the com-
mon. There were the blue with a copious bloom, others
simply black (not shiny, as ours commonly) and on
largish bushes, and others of a peculiar blue, as if with
a skim-coat of blue, hard and thin, as if glazed, such as
we also have. The black are scarce as with us.
These blueberries grew and bore abundantly almost
wherever anything else grew on the rocky part of the
mountain, except perhaps the very wettest of the
little swamps and the thickest of the little thickets, -
quite up to the summit, and at least thirty or forty peo-
ple came up from the surrounding country this Sunday
to gather them. When we behold this summit at this
season of the year, far away and blue in the horizon,
we may think of the blueberries as blending their color
with the general blueness of the mountain. They grow
alike in the midst of the cladonia lichens and of the
lambkill and moss of the little swamps. No shelf amid
the piled rocks is too high or dry for them, for every-
where they enjoy the cool and moist air of the moun-
tain. They are evidently a little later than in Concord,
- say a week or ten days later. Blueberries of every
degree of blueness and of bloom. There seemed to be
fewer of them on the more abrupt and cold westerly and
northwesterly sides of the summit, and most*in the hol-
lows and shelves of the plateau just southeast of the
Perhaps the prettiest berry, certainly the most novel
and interesting to me, was the mountain cranberry,
now grown but yet hard and with only its upper cheek
red. They are quite local, even on the mountain. The
vine is most common close to the summit, but we saw
very little fruit there; but some twenty rods north of
the brow of this low southern spur we found a pretty
little dense patch of them between the rocks, where we
gathered a pint in order to make a sauce of them. They
here formed a dense low flat bed, covering the rocks
for a rod or two, some lichens, green mosses, and the
mountain potentilla mingled with them; and they rose
scarcely more than one inch above the ground. These
vines were only an inch and a half long, clothed with
small, thick, glossy leaves, with two or three berries
together, about as big as huckleberries, on the recurved
end, with a red cheek uppermost and the other light-
colored. It was thus a dense, firm sward [?] of glossy
little leaves dotted with bright-red berries. They were
very easy to collect, for you only made incessant dabs
at them with all your fingers together and the twigs and
leaves were so rigid that you brought away only ber-
ries and no leaves.
1860] MOUNTAIN CRANBERRIES
I noticed two other patches where the berries were
thick, viz. one a few rods north of the little rain-water
lake of the rocks, at the first, or small, meadow (source
of Contoocook) at northeast end of the mountain, and
another not more than fifty rods northwest of the sum-
mit, where the vines were much ranker and the berries
larger. Here the plants were four or five inches high,
and there were three or four berries of pretty large
huckleberry size at the end of each, and they branched
like little bushes. In each case they occupied almost
exclusively a little sloping shelf between the rocks, and
the vines and berries were especially large and thick
where they lay up against the sloping sunny side of the
We stewed these berries for our breakfast the next
morning, and thought them the best berry on the moun-
tain, though, not being quite ripe, the berry was a little
bitterish but not the juice of it. It is such an acid as
the camper-out craves. They are, then, somewhat ear-
lier than the common cranberry. I do not know that
they are ever gathered hereabouts. At present they are
very firm berries, of a deep, dark, glossy red. Doubt-
less there are many more such patches on the moun-
We heard the voices of many berry-pickers and vis-
itors to the summit, but neither this nor the camp we
built afterward was seen by any one.
1 Brought some home, and stewed them the 12th, and all thought
them quite like, and as good as, the common cranberry. Yet George
Emerson speaks of it as "austere" and inferior to the common
P. M. Walked to the wild swamp at the northeast
spur. That part is perhaps the most interesting for the
wild confusion of its variously formed rocks, and is the
least, if at all, frequented. We found the skull and jaws
of a large rodent, probably a hedgehog, larger than
a woodchuck's, a considerable quantity of dry and
hard dark-brown droppings, of an elliptical form, like
very large rat-droppings, somewhat of a similar char-
acter but darker than the rabbit's, and I suspect that
these were the porcupine's.
Returned over the top at 5 P. M., after the visitors,
men and women, had descended, and so to camp.
Aug. 6. The last was a clear, cool night. At 4 A. M.
see local lake-like fogs in some valleys below, but there
is none here.
This foreToon, after a breakfast on cranberries, leav-
ing, as usual, our luggage concealed under a large rock,
with other rocks placed over the hole, we moved about
a quarter of a mile along the edge of the plateau east-
ward and built a new camp there. It was [a] place which
I had noticed the day before, where, sheltered by a per-
pendicular ledge some seven feet high and close to the
brow of the mountain, grew five spruce trees. Two of
these stood four feet from the rock and six or more apart:
so, clearing away the superfluous branches, I rested
stout rafters from the rock-edge to limbs of the two
spruces and placed a plate beam across, and, with two
or three cross-beams or girders, soon had a roof which
I could climb and shingle. After filling the inequalities
with rocks and rubbish, I soon had a sloping floor on
which to make our bed. Lying there on that shelf just
on the edge of the steep declivity of the mountain, we
could look all over the south and southeast world with-
out raising our heads. The rock running east and west
was our shelter on the north.
Our huts, being built of spruce entirely, were not no-
ticeable two or three rods off, for we did [not] cut the
spruce amid which they were built more than necessary,
bending aside their boughs in order to enter. My com-
panion, returning from a short walk, was lost. when
within two or three rods, the different rocks and clumps
of spruce looked so much alike, and in the moonlight
we were liable to mistake some dark recess between two
neighboring spruce ten feet off for the entrance to our
house. We heard this afternoon the tread of a blueberry-
picker on the rocks two or three rods north of us, and
saw another as near, south, and, stealing out, we came
round from another side and had some conversation
with them, two men and a boy, but they never
discovered our house nor suspected it. The surface is
so uneven that ten steps will often suffice to conceal the
ground you lately stood on, and yet the different shelves
and hollows are so much alike that you cannot tell if
one is new or not. It is somewhat like travelling over a
huge fan. When in a valley the nearest ridge conceals
all the others and you cannot tell one from another.
This afternoon, again walked to the larger north-
east swamp, going directly, i. e. east of the promon-
tories or part way down the slopes. Bathed in the small
rocky basin above the smaller meadow. These two
swamps are about the wildest part of the mountain and
A NEW CAMP
most interesting to me. The smaller occurs on the north-
east side of the main mountain, i. e. at the northeast end
of the plateau. It is a little roundish meadow a few rods
over, with cotton-grass in it, the shallow bottom of a
basin of rock, and out the east side there trickles a very
slight stream, just moistening the rock at present and
collecting enough in one cavity to afford you a drink.
This is evidently a source of the Contoocook, the one I
noticed two years ago as such.
The larger swamp is considerably lower and more
northerly, separating the northeast spur from the main
mountain, probably not far from the line of Dublin. It
extends northwest and southeast some thirty or forty
rods, and probably leaked out now under the rocks at
the northwest end, though I found water only half
a dozen rods below, and so was a source probably of
the Ashuelot. The prevailing grass or sedge in it, grow-
ing in tufts in the green moss and sphagnum between
the fallen dead spruce timber, was the Eriophorum va-
ginatum (long done) and the E. gracile. Also the Epi-
lobium palustre, apparently in prime in it, and common
wool-grass (Scirpus Eriophorum). Around its edge grew
the Chelone glabra (not yet out), meadow-sweet in bloom,
black choke-berry just ripening, red elder (its fruit in
prime), mountain-ash, Carex trisperma and Deweyana
(small and slender), and the fetid currant in fruit (in a
torrent of rocks at the east end), etc., etc.
I noticed a third, yet smaller, quite small, swamp, yet
more southerly, on the edge of the plateau, evidently
another source of a river, where the snows melt.
At 5 P. M. we went to our first camp for our remain-
1860] THE MOUNTAIN PASTURES 19
ing baggage. From this point at this hour the rocks of the
precipitous summit (under whose south side that camp
is placed), lit by the declining sun, were a very light gray,
with reddish-tawny touches from the now drying Aira
flexuosa on the inaccessible shelves and along the seams.
Returned to enjoy the evening at the second camp.
Evening and morning were the most interesting sea-
sons, especially the evening. Each day, about an hour
before sunset, I got sight, as it were accidentally, of an
elysium beneath me. The smoky haze of the day, sug-
gesting a furnace-like heat, a trivial dustiness, gave
place to a clear transparent enamel, through which
houses, woods, farms, and lakes were seen as in [a] pic-
ture indescribably fair and expressly made to be looked
at. At any hour of the day, to be sure, the surrounding
country looks flatter than it is. Even the great steep,
furrowed, and rocky pastures, red with hardhack and
raspberries, which creep so high up the mountain amid
the woods, in which you think already that you are half-
way up, perchance, seen from the top or brow of the
mountain are not for a long time distinguished for ele-
vation above the surrounding country, but they look
smooth and tolerably level, and the cattle in them are
not noticed or distinguished from rocks unless you
search very particularly. At length you notice how the
houses and barns keep a respectful, and at first unac-
countable, distance from these near pastures and woods,
though they are seemingly flat, that there is a broad
neutral ground between the roads and the mountain;
and yet when the truth flashes upon you, you have to
imagine the long, ascending path through them.
To speak of the landscape generally, the open or
cleared land looks like a thousand little swells or tops
of low rounded hills, tent-like or like a low hay-cap
spread, tawny or green amid the woods. As you look
down on this landscape you little think of the hills where
the traveller walks his horse. The woods have not this
swelling look. The most common color of open land
(from apex at 5 P. M.) is tawny brown, the woods
dark green. At midday the darker green of ever-
greens amid the hardwoods is quite discernible half a
dozen miles off. But, as the most interesting view is
at sunset, so it is the part of [the] landscape nearest
to you and most immediately beneath the mountain,
where,, as usual, there is that invisible gelid haze to
The nearest house to the mountain which we saw
from our camp one on the Jaffrey road was in the
shadow even of the low southern spur of the mountain
which we called the Old South, just an hour before the
sun set, while a neighbor on a hill within a quarter of a
mile eastward enjoyed the sunlight at least half an hour
longer. So much shorter are their days, and so much
more artificial light and heat must they obtain, at the
former house. It would be a serious loss, methinks, one
hour of sunlight every day. We saw the sun so much-
longer. Of course the labors of the day were brought
to an end, the sheep began to bleat, the doors were
closed, the lamps were lit, and preparations for the night
were made there, so much the earlier.
The landscape is shown to be not flat, but hilly, when
the sun is half an hour high, by the shadows of the hills.
1860] THE VIEW FROM MONADNOCK 21
But, above all, from half an hour to two hours before
sunset many western mountain-ranges are revealed,
as the sun declines, one behind another, by their dark
outlines and the intervening haze; i. e., the ridges are
dark lines, while the intervening valleys are a cloud-
like haze. It was so, at least, from 6 to 6.30 p. M. on the
6th; and, at 5 P. Mi. on the 8th, it being very hazy still,.
I could count in the direction of Saddleback Mountain
eight distinct ranges, revealed by the darker lines of the
ridges rising above this cloud-like haze. And I might
have added the ridge of Monadnock itself within a quar-
ter of a mile of me.
Of course, the last half of these mountain-ridges ap-
peared successively higher and seemed higher, all of
them (i. e. the last half), than the mountain we were
on, as if you had climbed to the heights of the sky by a
succession of stupendous terraces reaching as far as
you could see from north to south. The Connecticut
Valley was one broad gulf of haze which you were soon
over. They were the Green Mountains that we saw,
but there was no greenness, only a bluish mistiness, in
what we saw; and all of Vermont that lay between us
and their summit was but a succession of parallel ranges
of mountains. Of course, almost all that we mean com-
mercially and agriculturally by Vermont was concealed
in those long and narrow haze-filled valleys. I never
saw a mountain that looked so high and so melted away
at last cloud-like into the sky, as Saddleback this eve,
when your eye had clomb to it by these eight succes-
sive terraces. You had to begin at this end and ascend
step by step to recognize it for a mountain at all. If you
had first rested your eye on it, you would have seen it
for a cloud, it was so incredibly high in the sky.
After sunset the ponds are white and distinct.' Ear-
lier we could distinguish the reflections of the woods
perfectly in ponds three miles off.
I heard a cock crow very shrilly and distinctly early
in the evening of the 8th. This was the most distinct
sound from the lower world that I heard up there at
any time, not excepting even the railroad whistle, which
was louder. It reached my ear perfectly, to each note
and curl, from some submontane cock. We also
heard at this hour an occasional bleat from a sheep in
some mountain pasture, and a lowing of a cow. And
at last we saw a light here and there in a farmhouse
window. We heard no sound of man except the rail-
road whistle and, on Sunday, a church-bell. Heard no
dog that I remember. Therefore I should say that, of
all the sounds of the farmhouse, the crowing of the cock
could be heard furthest or most distinctly under these
circumstances. It seemed to wind its way through the
layers of air as a sharp gimlet through soft wood, and
reached our ears with amusing distinctness.
Aug. 7. Morning dawn and sunrise was an-
other interesting season. I rose always by four or half
past four to observe the signs of it and to correct my
watch. From our first camp I could not see the sun rise,
but only when its first light (yellowish or, rather, pink-
S' At 5 p. M. the 5th, being on the apex, the small pond by
the schoolhouse is mostly smooth plated, with a darker rip-
pled portion in the middle.
1860] THE GEOGRAPHY OF FOG
ish) was reflected from the lichen-clad rocks of the south-
ern spur. But here, by going eastward some forty rods,
I could see the sun rise, though there was invariably a
low stratum or bar of cloud in the horizon. The sun
rose about five. The tawny or yellowish pastures about
the mountain (below the woods; what was the grass?)
reflected the auroral light at 4.20 A. M. remarkably, and
they were at least as distinct as at any hour.
There was every morning more or less solid white
fog to be seen on the earth, though none on the moun-
tain. I was struck by the localness of these fogs. For
five mornings they occupied the same place and were
about the same in extent. It was obvious that certain
portions of New Hampshire and Massachusetts were
at this season commonly invested with fog in the morn-
ing, while others, or the larger part, were free from it.
The fog lay on the lower parts only. From our point of
view the largest lake of fog lay in Rindge and southward;
and southeast of Fitzwilliam, i. e. about Winchendon,
very large there. In short, the fog lay in great spidery
lakes and streams answering to the lakes, streams, and
meadows beneath, especially over the sources of Miller's
River and the region of primitive wood thereabouts;
but it did [not] rest on lakes always, i. e., where they
were elevated, as now some in Jaffrey were quite clear.
It suggested that there was an important difference, so
far as the health and spirits of the inhabitants were con-
cerned, between the town where there was this regular
morning fog and that where there was none. I shall
always remember the inhabitants of State Line as dwell-
ers in the fog. The geography and statistics of fog have
not been ascertained. If we awake into a fog, it does
not occur to us that the inhabitants of a neighboring
town which lies higher may have none, neither do they,
being ignorant of this happiness, inform us of it. Yet,
when you come to look down thus on the country every
morning, you see that here this thick white veil of fog
is spread and not there. It was often several hundred
feet thick, soon rising, breaking up, and drifting off, or
rather seeming to drift away, as it evaporated. There
was commonly such a risen fog drifting through the
interval between this mountain and Gap Monad-
One morning I noticed clouds as high as the Peter-
boro Hills,-a lifted fog, ever drifting easterly but
making no progress, being dissipated. Also long rolls
and ant-eaters of cloud, at last reduced by the sun to
mere vertebrae. That morning (the 8th) the great and
general cloud and apparently fog combined over the
lowest land running southwest from Rindge was ap-
parently five hundred or more feet deep, but our moun-
tain was above all.
This forenoon I cut and measured a spruce on the
north side the mountain, and afterward visited the
summit, where one of the coast surveyors had been
signalling, as I was told, to a mountain in Laconia, some
fifty-five miles off, with a glass reflector.
After dinner, descended into the gulf and swamp
beneath our camp. At noon every roof in the southern
country sloping toward the north was distinctly re-
vealed, a lit gray.
In the afternoon, walked to the Great Gulf and
1860] THE PLANTS OF THE SUMMIT
meadow, in the midst of the plateau just east of and
under the summit.
Aug. 8. Wednesday. 8.30 A. M. Walk round the west
side of the summit. Bathe in the rocky pool there,
collect mountain cranberries on the northwest side,
return over the summit, and take the bearings of the
different spurs, etc. Return to camp at noon.
Toward night, walk to east edge of the plateau.
Aug. 9. At 6 A. M., leave camp for Troy, where we
arrive, after long pauses, by 9 A. M., and take the cars
I observed these plants on the rocky summit of the
mountain, above the forest: -
Raspberry, not common.
Low blueberries of two or three varieties.'
Fetid currant, common; leaves beginning to be scarlet; grows
amid loose fallen rocks.
Red cherry, some ripe, and handsome.
Potentilla tridentata, still lingering in bloom.
Aralia hispida, still lingering in bloom.
Cow-wheat, common, still in bloom.
Mountain cranberry, not generally abundant; full grown earlier
than lowland ditto.2
Lambkill, lingering in flower in cool and moist places.
Aster acuminatus, abundant; not generally open, but fairly begun
SVide p. . 2 Vide p. .
Red elder, ripe, apparently in prime, not uncommon.
Arenaria Granlandica, still pretty common in flower.
Solidago lanceolata, not uncommon; just fairly begun.
Epilobium angustifolium, in bloom; not common, however.
Epilobium palustre, some time, common in mosses, small and
Wild holly, common; berries not quite ripe.
Viburnum nudum, common; berries green.
White pine; saw three or four only, mostly very small.
Mountain-ash, abundant; berries not ripe; generally very small,
largest in swamps.
Diervilla, not uncommon, still.
Rhodora, abundant; low, i. e. short.
Meadow-sweet, abundant, apparently in prime.
Hemlocks; two little ones with rounded tops.
Chelone glabra, not yet; at northeast swamp-side.
Canoe birch, very small.
Clintonia borealis, with fruit.
One three-ribbed goldenrod, northwest side (not Cana-
Tall rough goldenrod, not yet; not uncommon.
Populus tremuliformis, not very common.
Polygonum cilinode, in bloom.
Yellow birch, small.
Fir, a little; four or five trees noticed.
Willows, not uncommon, four or five feet high.
Red maple, a very little, small.
Water andromeda, common about the bogs.
Pearly everlasting, out.
Diplopappus umbellatus, in bloom, not common (?); northeast
swamp-side, also northwest side of mountain.
Some Juncus paradoxus ? about edge of marshes.
Some Juncus acuminatus ?
1860] THE PLANTS OF THE SUMMIT
Eriophorum gracile, abundant, whitening the little swamps.
Eriophorum vaginatum, abundant, little swamps, long done,
(this the coarse grass in tufts, in marshes).
Wool-grass, not uncommon, (common kind).
Carex trisperma (?) or Deweyana, with large seeds, slender and
drooping, by side of northeast swamp. Vide press.
Carex scoparia? or straminea? a little.
Carex, small, rather close-spiked, C. canescens-like (?), common.
A fine grass-like plant very common, perhaps Eleocharis tennis;
now without heads, but marks of them.
Glyceria elongata, with appressed branches (some purplish), in
Blue-joint, apparently in prime, one place.
Festuca ovina, one place.
Cinna arundinacea, one place.
Agrostis scabra (?), at our spring, q. v.
FERNS AND LICHENS, ETC.
A large greenish lichen flat on rocks, of a
peculiarly concentric growth, q. v.
Some common sulphur lichen.
The very bright handsome crustaceous yellow lichen, as on White
Mts., q. v.
Two or three umbilicaria lichens, q. v., giving the dark brown to
A little, in one place, of the old hat umbilicaria, as at Flint's Pond
Green moss and sphagnum in the marshes.
Two common cladonias, white and greenish.
Lycopodium complanatum, one place.
Lycopodium annotinum, not very common.
Dicksonia fern, q. v.
Sensitive fern, and various other common ones.
I see that in my last visit, in June, '58, I also saw
here Labrador tea (on the north side), two-leaved Solo-
mon's-seal, Amelanchier Canadensis var. oligocarpa
and var. oblongifolia, one or two or three kinds of wil-
lows, a little mayflower, and chiogenes, and Lycopodium
The prevailing trees and shrubs of the mountain-
top are, in order of commonness, etc., low blueberry,
black spruce, lambkill, black choke-berry, wild holly, Vi-
burnum nudum, mountain-ash, meadow-sweet, rhodora,
red cherry, canoe birch, water andromeda, fetid currant.
The prevailing and characteristic smaller plants, ex-
cepting grasses, cryptogamic, etc.: Potentilla tridentata,
Solidago thyrsoidea, bunchberry, cow-wheat, Aster acu-
minatus, Arenaria Grenlandica, mountain cranberry,
Juncus trifidus, Clintonia borealis, Epilobium palustre,
Of Cyperaceas the most common and noticeable now
were Eriophorum gracile and vaginatum, a few sedges,
and perhaps the grass-like Eleocharis tennis.
The grass of the mountain now was the Aira flexuosa,
large and abundant, now somewhat dry and withered,
on all shelves and along the seams, quite to the top; a
pinkish tawny now. Most would not have noticed or
detected any other. The other kinds named were not
common. You would say it was a true mountain grass.
The only grass that a careless observer would notice.
There was nothing like a sod on the mountain-top. The
tufts of J. trifidus, perhaps, came the nearest to it.
THE SCRUB SPRUCE
The black spruce is the prevailing tree, commonly
six or eight feet high; but very few, and those only in
the most sheltered places, as hollows and swamps, are
of regular outline, on account of the strong and cold
winds with which they have to contend. Fifteen feet high
would be unusually large: They cannot grow here with-
out some kind of lee to start with. They commonly
consist of numerous flat branches close above one an-
other for the first foot or two, spreading close over the
surface and filling and concealing the hollows between
the rocks; but exactly at a level with the top of the rock
which shelters them they cease to have any limbs on
the north side, but all their limbs now are included
within a quadrant between southeast and southwest,
while the stem, which is always perfectly perpendicular,
is bare and smooth on the north side; yet it is led on-
ward at the top by a tuft of tender branches a foot in
length and spreading every way as usual, but the north-
ern part of these successively die and disappear. They
thus remind you often of masts of vessels with sails set
on one side, and sometimes one of these almost bare
masts is seen to have been broken short off at ten feet
from the ground, such is the violence of the wind there.
I saw a spruce, healthy and straight, full sixteen feet
without a limb or the trace of a limb on the north side.
When building my camp, in order to get rafters six feet
long and an inch and a half in diameter at the small end,
I was obliged to cut down spruce at least five inches in
diameter at one foot from the ground. So stout and ta-
pering do they grow. They spread so close to the rocks
that the lower branches are often half worn away for a
foot in length by their rubbing on the rocks in the wind,
and I sometimes mistook the creaking of such a limb
for the note of a bird, for it is just such a note as you
would expect to hear there. The two spruce which
formed the sides of my second camp had their lower
branches behind the rock so thick and close, and, on
the outsides of the quadrant, so directly above one an-
other perpendicularly, that they made two upright side
walls, as it were, very convenient to interlace and make
I selected a spruce growing on the highest part of
the plateau east of the summit, on its north slope, about
as high as any tree of its size, to cut and count its rings.
It was five feet five inches high. As usual, all its limbs
except some of the leading twigs extended toward the
south. One of the lowermost limbs, so close to the
ground that I thought its green extremity was a distinct
tree, was ten feet long. There were ten similar limbs
(though not so long) almost directly above one another,
within two feet of the ground, the largest two inches
thick at the butt. I cut off this tree at one foot from the
ground. It was there five inches in diameter and had
forty-four rings, but four inches'of its growth was on the
south side the centre and only one inch on the north
side. I cut it off again nineteen inches higher and there
there were thirty-five rings.
Our fuel was the dead spruce apparently that
which escaped the fire some forty years ago!! which
lies spread over the rocks in considerable quantity still,
especially at the northeast spur. It makes very good
dry fuel, and some of it is quite fat and sound. The
1860] THE PREVAILING PLANTS
spruce twigs were our bed. I observed that, being laid
bottom upward in a hot sun, as at the foot of our bed,
the leaves turned pale-brown, as if boiled, and fell off
The black spruce is certainly a very wild tree, and
loves a primitive soil just made out of disintegrated
After the low blueberry I should say that the lamb-
kill was the commonest shrub. The black choke-berry
also was very common, but this and the rhodora were
both dwarfish. Though the meadow-sweet was very
common, I did not notice any hardhack; yet it was
exceedingly prevalent in the pastures below.
The Solidago thyrsoidea was the goldenrod of the
mountain-top, from the woods quite to the summit.
Any other goldenrod was comparatively scarce. It was
from two inches to two feet high. It grew both in small
swamps and in the seams of the rocks everywhere, and
was now in its prime.
The bunchberry strikes one from these parts as much
as any, about a dozen berries in a dense cluster, a
lively scarlet on a green ground.
Spruce was the prevailing tree; blueberry, the berry;
S. thyrsoidea, the goldenrod; A. acuminatus, the aster
(the only one I saw, and very common); Juncus tri-
fidus, the juncus; and Aira flexuosa, the grass, of the
The. two cotton-grasses named were very common
and conspicuous in and about the little meadows.
The Juncus trifidus was the common grass (or grass-
like plant) of the very highest part of the mountain, -
the peak and for thirty rods downward, growing on
the shelves and especially on the edges of the scars
rankly, and on this part of the mountain almost alone
had it fruited, for I think that I saw it occasionally
lower and elsewhere on the rocky portion without
The apparently common green and white cladonias,
together with yet whiter stereocaulon, grew all over the
fiat rocks in profusion, and the apparently common
greenish rock lichen (q. v. in box) grew concentricwise
in large circles on the slopes of rocks also, not to men-
tion the common small umbilicaria (q. v.) of one or
two kinds which covered the brows and angles of the
The berries now ripe were: blueberries, bunchber-
ries, fetid currant, red cherry, black choke-berry (some
of them), mountain cranberry (red-cheeked and good
cooked), red elder (quite showy), Clintonia borealis,
raspberry (not common). And berries yet green were:
Aralia hispida (ripe in Concord, much of it), wild holly
(turning), Viburnum nudum (green), mountain-ash.
The birds which I noticed were: robins, chewinks,
F. hyemalis, song sparrow, nighthawk, swallow (a few,
probably barn swallow, one flying over the extreme
summit), crows (sometimes flew over, though mostly
heard in the woods below), wood thrush (heard from
woods below); and saw a warbler with a dark-marked
breast and yellowish angle to wing and white throat,
1860] THE BIRDS OF THE MOUNTAIN 33
and heard a note once like a very large and powerful
nuthatch. Some small hawks.
The bird peculiar to the mountain was the F. hyema-
lis, and perhaps the most common, flitting over the
rocks, unless the robin and chewink were as common.
These, with the song sparrow and wood thrush, were
heard regularly each morning. I saw a robin's nest in
one of the little swamps. The wood thrush was regu-
larly heard late in the afternoon, its strain coming up
from the woods below as the shadows were lengthening.
But, above all, this was an excellent place to observe
the habits of the nighthawks. They were heard and
seen regularly at sunset, one night it was at 7.10,
or exactly at sunset, coming upward from the lower
and more shaded portion of the rocky surface below
our camp, with their spark spark, soon answered by a
companion, for they seemed always to hunt in pairs,
-yet both would dive and boom and, according to
Wilson, only the male utters this sound. They pursued
their game thus a short distance apart and some sixty
or one hundred feet above the gray rocky surface, in
the twilight, and the constant spark spark seemed to be
a sort of call-note to advertise each other of their neigh-
borhood. Suddenly one would hover and flutter more
stationarily for a moment, somewhat like a kingfisher,
and then dive almost perpendicularly downward with
a rush, for fifty feet, frequently within three or four
rods of us, and the loud booming sound or rip was made
just at the curve, as it ceased to fall, but whether vol-
untarily or involuntarily I know not. They appeared
to be diving for their insect prey. What eyes they must
have to be able to discern it beneath them against the
rocks in the twilight! As I was walking about the camp,
one flew low, within two feet of the surface, about me,
and lit on the rock within three rods of me, and uttered
a harsh note like c-o-w, c-o-w, hard and gritty and
allied to their common notes, which I thought ex-
pressive of anxiety, or to alarm me, or for its mate.
I suspect that their booming on a distant part of the
mountain was the sound which I heard the first night
which was like very distant thunder, or the fall of a pile
They did not fly or boom when there was a cloud or
fog, and ceased pretty early in the night. They came
up from the same quarter the shaded rocks below -
each night, two of them, and left off booming about
8 o'clock. Whether they then ceased hunting or with-
drew to another part of the mountain, I know not. Yet
I heard one the first night at 11.30 P. M., but, as it had
been a rainy day and did not clear up here till some time
late in the night, it may have been compelled to do its
hunting then. They began to boom again at 4 A. M.
(other birds about 4.30) and ceased about 4.20. By
their color they are related to the gray rocks over which
they flit and circle.
As for quadrupeds, we saw none on the summit and
only one small gray rabbit at the base of the mountain,
but we saw the droppings of rabbits all over the moun-
tain, and they must be the prevailing large animal, and
we heard the motions probably of a mouse about our
camp at night. We also found the skull of a rodent
1860] QUADRUPEDS AND INSECTS
larger than a woodchuck or gray rabbit, and the tail-
bones (maybe of the same) some half-dozen inches long,
and saw a large quantity of dark-brown oval droppings
(q. v., preserved). I think that this was a porcupine, and
I hear that they are found on the mountain. Mr. Wild
saw one recently dead near the spring some sixteen
years ago. I saw the ordure of some large quadruped,
probably this, on the rocks in the pastures beneath the
wood, composed chiefly of raspberry seeds.
As for insects: There were countless ants, large and
middle-sized, which ran over our bed and inside our
clothes. They swarmed all over the mountain. Had
young in the dead spruce which we burned. Saw but
half a dozen mosquitoes. Saw two or three common
yellow butterflies and some larger red-brown ones, and
moths. There were great flies, as big as horse-flies, with
shining black abdomens and buff-colored bases to their
wings. Disturbed a swarm of bees in a dead spruce on
the ground, but they disappeared before I ascertained
what kind they were. On the summit one noon, i. e. on
the very apex, I was pestered by great swarms of small
black wasps or winged ants about a quarter of an inch
long, which fluttered about and settled on my head and
face. Heard a fine (in the sod) cricket, a dog-day locust
once or twice, and a creaking grasshopper.
Saw two or three frogs, one large Ranafontinalis in
that rocky pool on the southwest side, where I saw the
large spawn which I supposed to be bullfrog spawn two
years ago, but now think must have been R. fontinalis
spawn; and there was a dark pollywog one inch long.
This frog had a raised line on each side of back and was
as large as a common bullfrog. I also heard the note
once of some familiar large frog. The one or two smaller
frogs which I saw elsewhere were perhaps the same.
There were a great many visitors to the summit, both
by the south and north, i. e. the Jaffrey and Dublin
paths, but they did not turn off from the beaten track.
One noon, when I was on the top, I counted forty men,
women, and children around me, and more were con-
stantly arriving while others were going. Certainly more
than one hundred ascended in a day. When you got
within thirty rods you saw them seated in a row along
the gray parapets, like the inhabitants of a castle on a
gala-day; and when you behold Monadnock's blue
summit fifty miles off in the horizon, you may imagine
it covered with men, women, and children in dresses of
all colors, like an observatory on a muster-field. They
appeared to be chiefly mechanics and farmers' boys and
girls from the neighboring towns. The young men sat
in rows with their legs dangling over the precipice,
squinting through spy-glasses and shouting and halloo-
ing to each new party that issued from the woods below.
Some were playing cards; others were trying to see
their house or their neighbor's. Children were running
about and playing as usual. Indeed, this peak in plea-
sant weather is the most trivial place in New England.
There are probably more arrivals daily than at any of the
White Mountain houses. Several were busily engraving
their names on the rocks with cold-chisels, whose inces-
1860] VISITORS TO THE SUMMIT 37
sant clink you heard, and they had but little leisure to
look off. The mountain was not free of them from sun-
rise to sunset, though most of them left about 5 P. M.
At almost any hour of the day they were seen wending
their way single file in various garb up or down the
shelving rocks of the peak. These figures on the sum-
mit, seen in relief against the .sky (from our camp),
looked taller than life. I saw some that camped there,
by moonlight, one night. On Sunday, twenty or thirty,
at least, in addition to the visitors to the peak, came up
to pick blueberries, and we heard on all sides the rat-
tling of dishes and their frequent calls to each other.
The rocky area or summit of the mountain above
the forest which I am describing is of an irregular
form from a mile and a half to two miles long, north
and south, by three quarters to a mile wide at the widest
part, in proportion as you descend lower on the rocks.
There are three main spurs, viz. the northeast, or
chief, one, toward Monadnock Pond and the village of
Dublin; the southerly, to Swan's [?]; and the northerly,
over which the Dublin path runs. These afford the
three longest walks. The first is the longest, wildest,
and least-frequented, and rises to the greatest height at
a distance from the central peak. The second affords
the broadest and smoothest walk. The third is the
highest of all at first, but falls off directly. There are
also two lesser and lower spurs, on the westerly side,-
one quite short, toward Troy, by which you might come
up from that side, the other yet lower, but longer, from
north 750 west. But above all, for walking, there is
an elevated rocky plateau, so to call it, extending to
half a mile east of the summit, or about a hundred rods
east of the ravine. This slopes gently toward the south
and east by successive terraces of rock, and affords the
most amusing walking of any part of the mountain.
The most interesting precipices are on the south side
of the peak. The greatest abruptness of descent (from
top to bottom) is on the west side between the two lesser
The northeast spur (of two principal summits beyond
the swamp) has the most dead spruce on it.
The handsome ponds near the mountain are a long
pond chiefly in Jaffrey, close under the mountain on the
1860] PONDS SEEN FROM MONADNOCK 39
east, with a greatly swelling knoll extending into it on
the east side; Monadnock Pond in Dublin, said to be
very deep, about north-northeast (between the north-
east spur and Dublin village); a large pond with a very
white beach much further off in Nelson, about north
(one called it Breed's?); Stone Pond, northwesterly,
about as near as Monadnock Pond. Also large ponds
in Jaffrey, Rindge, Troy; and many more further off.
The basis of my map was the distance from the sum-
mit to the second camp, measured very rudely by casting
a stone before. Pacing the distance of an easy cast, I
found it about ten rods, and thirteen such stone's throws,
or one hundred and thirty rods, carried me to the camp.
As I had the course, from the summit and from the
camp, of the principal points, I could tell the rest nearly
enough. It was about fifty rods from the summit to the
ravine and eighty more to the camp.
It was undoubtedly Saddleback Mountain which I
saw about S. 850 W. What was that elevated part of
the Green Mountains about N. 500 W., which one
called falsely Camel's Hump? the next elevated
summit north of Saddleback.
It would evidently be a noble walk from Watatic to
Goffstown perchance, over the Peterboro mountains,
along the very backbone of this part of New Hampshire.
- the most novel and interesting walk that I can think
of in these parts.
They who simply climb to the peak of Monadnock
have seen but little of the mountain. I came not to look
off from it, but to look at it. The view of the pinnacle
itself from the plateau below surpasses any view which
you get from the summit. It is indispensable to see the
top itself and the sierra of its outline from one side. The
great charm is not to look off from a height but to walk
over this novel and wonderful rocky surface. Moreover,
if you would enjoy the prospect, it is, methinks, most
interesting when you look from the edge of the plateau
immediately down into the valleys, or where the edge of
the lichen-clad rocks, only two or three rods from you,
is seen as the lower frame of a picture of green fields,
lakes, and woods, suggesting a more stupendous precipice
than exists. There are much more surprising effects of
this nature along the edge of the plateau than on the sum-
mit. It is remarkable what haste the visitors make to get
to the top of the mountain and then look away from it.
Northward you see Ascutney and Kearsarge Moun-
tains, and faintly the White Mountains, and others
more northeast; but above all, toward night, the Green
But what a study for rocks does this mountain-top
afford! The rocks of the pinnacle
have many regular nearly right-
angled slants to the southeast, cov-
ered with the dark-brown (or oli-
vaceous) umbilicaria. The rocks which you walk
over are often not only worn smooth and slippery,
but grooved out, as if with some huge rounded tool,
Sor they are much oftener
You see huge buttresses or walls \.se
put up by Titans, with true joints,
only recently loosened by an earthquake as if ready to
1860] THE MONADNOCK ROCKS
topple down. Some of the lichen-clad rocks are of a rude
brick-loaf form or small cottage form:
You see large boulders, left just on the I 4
edge of the steep descent of the plateau,
commonly resting on a few small stones, as if the Titans
were in the very act of transporting them when they were
interrupted; some left standing on their ends, and almost
the only convenient rocks in whose shade you can sit
sometimes. Often you come to a long, thin rock, two or
three rods long, which has the appearance of having just
been split into underpinning-stone, -perfectly straight-
edged and parallel pieces, and lying as it fell, ready for
use, just as the mason leaves it. Post-stones, door-
stones, etc. There were evidences of recent motion as
well as ancient.
I saw on the flat sloping surface of rock a fresher
white space exactly the size and form of a rock which
was lying by it and which had lately covered it. What
had upset it? There were many of these whitish marks
where the dead spruce had lain but was now decayed
The rocks were not only coarsely grooved but finely
scratched from northwest to southeast, commonly about
S. 100 E. (but between 5 and 200 east, or, by the true
meridian, more yet).1 I could have steered myself in a
fog by them.
Piles of stones left as they were split ready for the
I Hitchcock, p. 387, calls the rock of Monadnock granite, and says
the scratches are north and south, nearly, and. very striking. Vide
three pages forward.
builder. I saw one perfect triangular hog-trough-
except that it wanted one end and
which would have been quite portable and
convenient in a farmer's yard. The core,
four or five feet long, lay one side.
The rocks are very commonly in terraces with a
smooth rounded edge to each. The most remarkable
of these terraces that I noticed was between the second
camp and the summit, say some forty rods from the
camp. These terraces were some six rods long and six
to ten feet wide, but the top slanting considerably back
into the mountain, and they were about four or five feet
high each. There
Were four such in
6 succession here,
running S. 300
E. The edges of
these terraces, here and commonly, were rounded and
grooved like the rocks at a waterfall, as if water and
gravel had long washed over them.
Some rocks were ( shaped like
huge doughnuts: -The edges
of cliffs were frequently lumpishly rounded, covered with
lichens, so that you could not stand near the edge. The
extreme east and northeast parts of the plateau, espe-
cially near the little meadow, are the most interesting
for the forms of rocks. Sometimes you see where a
huge oblong square stone has been taken out from the
edge of a terrace, leaving a space which looks like a
giant's grave unoccupied.
On the west side the summit the strata ran north and
THE MONADNOCK ROCKS
south and dipped to east about 60 with
the horizon. There were broad veins
of white quartz (sometimes one foot
wide) running directly many rods.
Near the camp there was a succession of great rocks,
their covers rounded semi-
circularly and grooved at the
same time like the capital of a
column reversed. The most--
rugged walking is on the steep westerly slope.
We had a grand view, especially after sunset, as it grew
dark, of the sierra of the summit's outline west of us, -
the teeth of the sierra often turned back toward the
summit, when the rocks were uniformly black in the
shade and seen against the twilight.
In Morse's Gazetteer (1797) it is said, "Its base is
five miles in diameter north to south, and three from
east to west. Its summit is a bald rock." By the
summit he meant the very topmost part, which, it seems,
was always a "bald rock."
There were all over the rocky summit peculiar yel-
lowish gravelly spots which I called scars, commonly of
an oval form, not in low but elevated places, and looking
as if a little mound had been cut off there. .,-
The edges of these, on the very pinnacle '' '
of the mountain, were formed of the Juncus "*-i'"
trifidus, now gone to seed. If they had been in hollows,
you would have said that they were the bottom of little
pools, now dried up, where the gravel and stones had
been washed bare. I am not certain about their origin.
They suggested some force which had suddenly cut
off and washed or blown away the surface there, like
a thunder-spout [sic], or lightning, or a hurricane. Such
spots were very numerous, and had the appearance of a
Much, if not most, of the rock appears to be what
Hitchcock describes and represents as graphic granite
videe his book, page 681).
Hitchcock says (page 389) that he learns from his
assistant, Abraham Jenkins, Jr., that "on the sides of
and around this mountain [Monadnock] I diluvial
grooves and scratches are common; having a direction
about N. 100 W. and S. 100 E. The summit of the
mountain, which rises in an insulated manner to the
height of 3250 feet, is a naked rock of gneiss of several
acres in extent, and this is thoroughly grooved and
scored. One groove measured fourteen feet in width,
and two feet deep; and others are scarcely of less size.
Their direction at the summit, by a mean of nearly thirty
measurements with a compass, is nearly north and
According to Ieywood's Gazetteer, the mountain is
"talc, mica, slate, distinctly stratified," and is 3718 feet
Though there is little or no soil upon the rocks, owing
apparently to the coolness, if not moisture, you have
rather the vegetation of a swamp than that of sterile
rocky ground below. For example, of the six prevailing
trees and shrubs low blueberry, black spruce, lamb-
kill, black choke-berry, wild holly, and Viburnum nudum
- all but the first are characteristic of swampy and low
1 [The brackets are Thoreau's.]
BOGS AND POOLS
ground, to say nothing of the commonness of wet mosses,
the two species of cotton-grass, and some other plants
of the swamp and meadow. Little meadows and swamps
are scattered all over the mountain upon and amid the
rocks. You are continually struck with the proximity
of gray and lichen-clad rock and mossy bog. You tread
alternately on wet moss, into which you sink, and dry,
lichen-covered rocks. You will be surprised to see the
vegetation of a swamp on a little shelf only a foot or two
over, a bog a foot wide with cotton-grass waving
over it in the midst of cladonia lichens so dry as to burn
like tinder. The edges of the little swamps if not their
middle are commonly white with cotton-grass. The
Arenaria Grwenlandica often belies its name here, grow-
ing in wet places as often as in dry ones, together with
One of the grandest views of the summit is from the
east side of the central meadow of the plateau, which I
called the Gulf, just beneath the pinnacle on the east,
with the meadow in the foreground.
Water stands in shallow pools on almost every rocky
shelf. The largest pool of open water which I found was
on the southwest side of the summit, and was four rods
long by fifteen to twenty feet in width and a foot deep.
Wool- and cotton-grass grew around it, and there was a
dark green moss and some mud at the bottom. There
was a smoother similar pool on the next shelf above it.
These were about the same size in June and in August,
and apparently never dry up. There was also the one
in which I bathed, near the northeast little meadow. I
had a delicious bath there, though the water was warm,
but there was a pleasant strong and drying wind blow-
ing over the ridge, and when I had bathed, the rock felt
like plush to my feet.
The cladonia lichens were so dry at midday, even the
day after rain, that they served as tinder to kindle our
fire, indeed, we were somewhat troubled to prevent
the fire from spreading amid them, yet at night, even
before sundown, and morning, when we got our supper
and breakfast, they would not burn thus, having ab-
sorbed moisture. They had then a cool and slightly
Every evening, excepting, perhaps, the Sunday even-
ing after the rain of the day before, we saw not long
after sundown a slight scud or mist begin to strike the
summit above us, though it was perfectly fair weather
generally and there were no clouds over the lower
First, perhaps, looking up, we would see a small scud
not more than a rod in diameter drifting just over the
apex of the mountain. In a few minutes more a some-
what larger one would suddenly make its appearance,
and perhaps strike the topmost rocks and invest them
for a moment, but as rapidly drift off northeast and
disappear. Looking into the southwest sky, which was
clear, we would see all at once a small cloud or scud a
rod in diameter beginning to form half a mile from the
summit, and as it came on it rapidly grew in a mysteri-
ous manner, till it was fifty rods or more in diameter,
and draped and concealed for a few moments all the
summit above us, and then passed off and disappeared
northeastward just as it had come on. So that it ap-
1860] THE CLOUDS OF THE MOUNTAIN 47
peared as if the clouds had been attracted by the sum-
mit. They also seemed to rise a little as they approached
it, and endeavor to go over without striking. I gave this
account of it to myself. They were not attracted to the
summit, but simply generated there and not elsewhere.
There would be a warm southwest wind blowing which
was full of moisture, alike over the mountain and all the
rest of the country. The summit of the mountain being
cool, this warm air began to feel its influence at half a
mile distance, and its moisture was rapidly condensed
into a small cloud, which expanded as it advanced, and
evaporated again as it left the summit. This would go
on, apparently, as the coolness of the mountain in-
creased, and generally the cloud or mist reached down
as low as our camp from time to time, in the night.
One evening, as I was watching these small clouds
forming and dissolving about the summit of our moun-
tain, the sun having just set, I cast my eyes toward the
dim bluish outline of the Green Mountains in the clear
red evening sky, and, to my delight, I detected exactly
over the summit of Saddleback Mountain, some sixty
miles distant, its own little cloud, shaped like a parasol
and answering to that which capped our mountain,
though in this case it did not rest on the mountain, but
was considerably above it, and all the rest of the west
horizon for forty miles was cloudless.
I was convinced that it was the local
cloud of that mountain because it was directly over the
summit, was of small size and of umbrella form answer-
ing to the summit, and there was no other cloud to be
seen in that horizon. It was a beautiful and serene
object, a sort of fortunate isle, like any other cloud
in the sunset sky.
That the summit of this mountain is cool appears
from the fact that the days which we spent there were
remarkably warm ones in the country below, and were
the common subject of conversation when we came
down, yet we had known nothing about it, and went
warmly clad with comfort all the while, as we had not
done immediately before and did not after we descended.
We immediately perceived the difference as we de-
scended. It was warm enough for us on the summit, and
often, in the sheltered southeast hollows, too warm, as
we happened to be clad, but on the summits and ridges
it chanced that there was always wind, and in this wind
it was commonly cooler than we liked. Also our water,
which was evidently rain-water caught in the rocks
and retained by the moss, was cool enough if it were
only in a little crevice under the shelter of a rock, i. e. out
of the sun.
Yet, though it was thus cool, and there was this scud
or mist on the top more or less every night, there was, as
we should say, no dew on the summit any morning.
The lichens, blueberry bushes, etc., did not feel wet,
nor did they wet you in the least, however early you
walked in them. I rose [?] to observe the sunrise and
picked blueberries every morning before sunrise, and
saw no dew, only once some minute dewdrops on some
low grass-tips, and that was amid the wet moss of a
little bog, but the lambkill and blueberry bushes above
it were not wet. Yet the Thursday when we left, we
found that though there was no dew on the summit there
1860] THE WATER OF THE SUMMIT
was a very heavy dew in the pastures below, and our
feet and clothes were completely wet with it, as much as
if we had stood in water.
I should say that there were no true springs (?) on the
summit, but simply rain-water caught in the hollows
of the rocks or retained by the moss. I observed that
the well which we made for washing by digging up
the moss with our hands half dried up in the sun by
day, but filled up again at night.
The principal stream on the summit, if not the only
one, in the rocky portion described, was on the south-
east side, between our two camps, though it did not
distinctly show itself at present except a little below
our elevation. For the most part you could only see
that water had flowed there between and under the rocks.
I fancied once or, twice that it was warmer at 10 r. M.
than it was immediately after sunset.
The voices of those climbing the summit were heard
remarkably far. We heard much of the ordinary con-
versation of those climbing the peak above us a hundred
rods off, and we could hear those on the summit, or a
hundred and thirty rods off, when they shouted. I heard
a party of ladies and gentlemen laughing and talking
there in the night (they were camping there), though I
did not hear what they said.' We heard, or imagined
that we heard, from time to time, as we lay in our camp
by day, an occasional chinking or clinking sound as if
made by one stone on another.
In clear weather, in going from one part of the sum-
mit to another it would be most convenient to steer by
distant objects, as towns or mountains or lakes, rather
than by features of the summit itself, since the for-
mer are most easily recognized and almost always in
I saw what I took to be a thistle-down going low over
the summit, and might have caught it, though I saw no
thistle on the mountain-top nor any other plant from
which this could have come. (I have no doubt it was a
thistle by its appearance and its season.) It had evi-
dently come up from the country below. This shows
that it may carry its seeds to higher regions than it
inhabits, and it suggests how the seeds of some moun-
tain plants, as the Solidago thyrsoidea, may be conveyed
from mountain to mountain, also other solidagos, asters,
epilobiums, willows, etc.
The descent through the woods from our first camp
to the site of the shanty is from a third to half a mile.
You then come to the raspberry and fern scented region.
There were some raspberries still left, but they were fast
There was a good view of the mountain from just
above the pond, some two miles from Troy. The vary-
ing outline of a mountain is due to the crest of different
spurs, as seen from different sides. Even a small spur,
if you are near, may conceal a much larger one and
give its own outline to the mountain, and at the same
time one which extends directly toward you is not
noticed at all, however important, though, as you travel
round the mountain, this may gradually come into view
and finally its crest may be one half or more of the out-
line presented. It may partly account for the peaked or
pyramidal form of mountains that one crest may be
1860] OUTFIT AND PROVISIONS
seen through the gaps of another and so fill up the
Think I saw leersia or cut-grass in bloom in Troy.
I carried on this excursion the following articles
(beside what I wore), viz.: -
One pair socks.
One thick waistcoat.
One flannel shirt (had no occasion to use it).
Towel and soap.
Pins, needles, thread.
A blanket (would have been more convenient if stitched up in
the form of a bag).
Cap for the night.
Map and compass.
Spy-glass and microscope and tape.
Saw and hatchet.
Plant-book and blotting-paper.
Paper and stamps.
Insect and lichen boxes.
Waste paper and twine.
Iron spoon and pint dipper with handle.
All in a knapsack.
N. B. Add to the above next time a small bag, which may be
stuffed with moss or the like for a pillow.
For provision for one, six days, carried:
23 lbs. of salt beef and tongue. Take only salt beef next time,
2/ to 3 lbs.
18 hard-boiled eggs. Omit eggs.
2 lbs. sugar and a little salt. 2 lbs. of sugar would have done.
About I lb. of tea. j as much would have done.
2 lbs. hard-bread. The right amount of bread,
j loaf home-made bread and but might have taken more
a piece of cake. home-made and more solid
N. B.- Carry salt (or some of it) in a wafer-box. Also some
sugar in a small box.
N. B. Observe next time: the source of the stream
which crosses the path; what species of swallow flies
over mountain; what the grass which gives the pastures
a yellowish color seen from the summit.
The morning would probably never be ushered in
there by the chipping of the chip-bird, but that of the
F. hyemalis instead, a dry, hard occasional chirp,
more in harmony with the rocks. There you do not
hear the link of the bobolink, the chatter of red-wings
and crow blackbirds, the wood pewee, the twitter of the
kingbird, the half [sic] strains of the virco, the passing
goldfinch, or the occasional plaintive note of the blue-
bird, all which are now commonly heard in the lowlands.
That area is literally a chaos, an example of what the
earth was before it was finished.'
Do I not hear the mole cricket at night?
Aug. 10. 2 P. M.-Air, 840; Boiling Spring this after-
noon., 460; Brister's, 490; or where there is little or no
Vide Aug. 26 and 28, and Sept. 1.
surface water the same as in spring. Walden is at sur-
face 800 (air over it 76).
Aster dumosus and pennyroyal out; how long ? Sand
cherry is well ripe some of it and tolerable, better
than the red cherry or choke-cherry. Juncus paradoxus,
that large and late juncus (tailed), as in Hubbard's Close
and on island above monument and in Great Meadows,
say ten days.
Saw yesterday in Fitzwilliam from the railroad a pond
covered with white lilies uniformly about half the size
Saw this evening, behind a picture in R. W. E.'s
dining-room, the hoary bat. First heard it fluttering at
dusk, it having hung there all day. Its rear parts cov-
ered with a fine hoary down.
Aug. 11. Panicum capillare; how long? Cyperus
strigosus; how long?
Aug. 12. The river-bank is past height. The button-
bush is not common now, though the clethra is in prime.
The black willow hardly ceases to shed its down when
it looks yellowish. Setaria glauca, some days. Elymus
Virginicus, some days. Andropogon furcatus (in
meadow); how long? Probably before scoparius.
Zizania several days.
River at 5 P. M. three and three quarters inches be-
low summer level.
Panicum glabrum (not sanguinale? our common);
how long? The upper glume equals the flower, yet it
has many spikes.
A HOARY BAT
Aug. 13. P. M. To Great Meadows and Gowing's
Purple grass (Eragrostis pectinacea), two or three
days. E. capillaris, say as much. Andropogon scoparius,
a day or two. Calamagrostis coarctata, not quite.
Glyceria obtusa, well out; say several days.
Some of the little cranberries at Gowing's Swamp
appear to have been frost-bitten. Also the blue-eyed
grass, which is now black-topped.
Hear the steady shrill of the alder locust.
Rain this forenoon; windy in afternoon.
SAug. 14. Heavy rain.
Aug. 15. Fair weather.
See a blue heron.
Aug. 16. 2 P. M. River about ten and a half inches
above summer level.
Apparently the Canada plum began to be ripe about
Aug. 17. We have cooler nights of late.
See at Pout's Nest two solitary tattlers, as I have seen
them about the muddy shore of Gourgas Pond-hole and
in the Great Meadow pools. They seem to like a mud-
dier shore than the peetweet.
Hear a whip-poor-will sing to-night.
Aug. 18. The note of the wood pewee sounds promi-
nent of late.
1860] THE RIVER-BANK PAST PRIME
Aug. 19. Examine now more at length that smooth,
turnip-scented brassica which is a pest in some grain-
fields. Formerly in Stow's land; this year in Warren's,
on the Walden road. To-day I see it in Minot Pratt's,
with the wild radish, which is a paler yellow and a
rougher plant. I thought it before the B. campestris, but
Persoon puts that under brassicas with siliquis tetraedris,
which this is not, but, for aught that appears, it agrees
with his B. Napus, closely allied, i. e. wild rape. Elliot
speaks of this as introduced here. Vide Patent Office
Report for 1853 and "Vegetable Kingdom," page 179.
The B. campestfis also is called rape.1
Leersia (cut-grass) abundantly out, apparently several
Aug. 21. Soaking rains, and in the night.
A few fireflies still at night.
Aug. 22. P. M. Row to Bittern Cliff.
Now, when the mikania is conspicuous, the bank is
past prime,2 for lilies are far gone, the pontederia is past
prime, willows and button-bushes begin to look the
worse for the wear thus early,- the lower or older
leaves of the willows are turned yellow and decaying, -
and many of the meadows are shorn. Yet now is the time
for the cardinal-flower. The already, methinks, yellow-
ing willows and button-bushes, the half-shorn meadows,
the higher water on their edges, with wool-grass stand-
ing over it, with the notes of flitting bobolinks and red-
wings of this year, in rustling flocks, all tell of the fall.
1 Vide Sept. 8. 2 Vide Sept. 5.
I hear two or three times behind me the loud creaking
note of a wood duck which I have scared up, which goes
to settle in a new place.
Some deciduous trees are now at least as dark as ever-
greens, the alders are darker than white pines, and as
dark as pitch, as I now see them.
I try the temperature of the river at Bittern Cliff, the
deep place. The air over river at 4.30 is 810; the water
at the top, 780; poured from a bottle (into a dipper)
which I let lie on the bottom half an hour, 730, or 50
difference. When I merely sunk the thermometer and
pulled it up rapidly it stood 732, though not in exactly
the same place, say two rods off.
When I used to pick the berries for dinner on the East
Quarter hills I did not eat one till I had done, for going
a-berrying implies more things than eating the berries.
They at home got only the pudding: I got the forenoon
out of doors, and the appetite for the pudding.
It is true, as is said, that we have as good a right to
make berries private property as to make grass and
trees such; but what I chiefly regret is the, in effect, dog-
in-the-manger result, for at the same time that we
exclude mankind from gathering berries in our field,
we exclude them from gathering health and happiness
and inspiration and a hundred other far finer and nobler
fruits than berries, which yet we shall not gather our-
selves there, nor even carry to market. We strike only
one more blow at a simple and wholesome relation to
nature. As long as the berries are free to all comers they
are beautiful, though they may be few and small, but
tell me that is a blueberry swamp which somebody has
1860] PROPERTY RIGHTS IN BERRIES 57
hired, and I shall not want even to look at it. In laying
claim for the first time to the spontaneous fruit of our
pastures we are, accordingly, aware of a little meanness
inevitably, and the gay berry party whom we turn away
naturally look down on and despise us. If it were left
to the berries to say who should have them, is it not
likely that they would prefer to be gathered by the party
of children in the hay-rigging, who have come to have
a good time merely ?
I do not see clearly that these successive losses are
ever quite made up to us. This is one of the taxes which
we pay for having a railroad. Almost all our improve-
ments, so called, tend to convert the country into the town.
This suggests what origin and foundation many of our
laws and institutions have, and I do not say this by way
of complaining of this particular custom. Not that I
love Caesar less, but Rome more.
Yes, and a potato-field is a rich sight to me, even when
the vines are half decayed and blackened and their
decaying scent fills the air, though unsightly to many;
for it speaks then more loudly and distinctly of potatoes
than ever. I see their weather-beaten brows peeping out
of the hills here and there, for the earth cannot contain
them, when the creak of the cricket and the shrilling of
the locust prevail more and more, in the sunny end of
summer. There the confident husbandman lets them
lie for the present, even as if he knew not of them, or as
if that property were insured, so carelessly rich he is.
He relaxes now his labors somewhat, seeing to their
successful end, and takes long mornings, perchance,
stretched in the shade of his ancestral elms.
58 JOURNAL [AUG. 22
Returning down the river, when I get to Clamshell I
see great flocks of the young red-wings and some crow
blackbirds on the trees and the ground. They are not
very shy, but only timid, as inexperienced birds are. I
do not know what they find to eat on this half bare, half
grassy bank, but there they hop about by hundreds,
while as many more are perched on the neighboring
trees; and from time to time they all rise from the earth
and wheel and withdraw to the trees, but soon return
to the ground again. The red-wings are almost reddish
about the throat. The crow blackbirds have some notes
now just like the first croaks of the wood frog in the
Sorghum nutans well out (behind the birch); how
long? Paspalum ditto.
The recent heavy rains have washed away the bank
here considerably, and it looks and smells more mouldy
with human relics than ever. I therefore find myself
inevitably exploring it. On the edge of the ravine whose
beginning I witnessed, one foot beneath the surface and
just over a layer some three inches thick of pure shells
and ashes, a gray-white line on the face of the cliff. -
I find several pieces of Indian pottery with a rude orna-
ment on it, not much more red than the earth itself.
Looking farther, I find more fragments, which have
been washed down the sandy slope in a stream, as far as
ten feet. I find in all thirty-one pieces, averaging an inch
in diameter and about a third of an inch thick. Several
of them made part of the upper edge of the vessel, and
have a rude ornament encircling them in three rows,
as if pricked with a stick in the soft clay, and also an-
other line on the narrow edge itself. At first I thought
to match the pieces again, like a geographical puzzle,
but I did not find that any I [got] belonged together.
The vessel must have been quite large, and I have not
got nearly all of it. It appears to have been an impure
clay with much sand and gravel in it, and I think a little
pounded shell. It is [of] very unequal thickness, some
of the unadorned pieces (probably the bottom) being
half an inch thick, while near the edge it is not more
than a quarter of an inch thick. There was under this
spot and under the layer of shells a manifest hollowness
in the ground, not yet filled up. I find mariy small pieces
of bone in the soil of this bank, probably of animals the
In another / part of the
bank, in the midst of a much
larger heap of shellswhichhas
been exposed, I found a
delicate stone /tool of this
form and size:
stone. It is very
on each side
the middle is
an eighth of an
suspect that this
It is curious
pected to find /
and in this very
I reached it (I/
Indeed, I never
of a soft slate-
thin and sharp
edge, and in
not more than
inch thick. I
was used to
that I had ex-
as much as this,
spot too, before
mean the pot).
Find a remark-
able Indian relic and I find a good many but
I have first divined its existence, and planned the dis-
covery of it. Frequently I have told myself distinctly
what it was to be before I found it.
The river is fifteen and three quarters inches above
Aug. 24. This and yesterday very foggy, dogdayish
days. Yesterday the fog lasted till nine or ten, and
to-day, in the afternoon, it amounts to a considerable
P. M. To Walden to get its temperature. The air
is only 66 (in the mizzling rain the 23d it was 78); the
water at top, 750 (the 23d also 75). What I had sunk to
the bottom in the middle, where a hundred feet deep by
my line, left there half an hour, then pulled up and
poured into a quart dipper, stood at 530.2 I tried the
same experiment yesterday, but then in my haste was
uncertain whether it was not 510; certain that a little
later it was 54. So 530 it must be for the present. I may
have been two or more minutes pulling up the line so as
to prevent its snarling. Therefore I think the water
must have acquired a temperature two or three degrees
higher than it had at the bottom by the time I tried it."
So it appears that the bottom of Walden has, in fact, the
temperature of a genuine and cold spring, or probably
is of the same temperature with the average mean tem-
perature of the earth, and, I suspect, the same all the
year. This shows that springs need not come from a
very great depth in order to be cold. What various tem-
I And about the same the 25th. 2 Vide 28th.
THE WALDEN WATER
peratures, then, the fishes of this pond can enjoy! They
require no other refrigerator than their deeps afford.
They can in a few moments sink to winter or rise to
summer. 'Walden, then, must be included among the
springs, but it is one which has no outlet, is a well
rather. It reaches down to where the temperature of
the earth is unchanging. It is not a superficial pond, -
not in the mere skin of the earth. It goes deeper. How
much this varied temperature must have to do with the
distribution of the fishes in it! The few trout must
oftenest go down below in summer.
At the bottom of the deep cove I see much black birch
and red maple just sprung up, and their seeds have evi-
dently been drifted to this shore. The little birches are
Aug. 25. 2 P. M. -To Clamshell.
See a large hen-hawk sailing over Hubbard's meadow
and Clamshell, soaring at last very high and toward the
north. At last it returns southward, at that height im-
pelling itself steadily and swiftly forward with
its wings set in this wise: / ) i. e. more curved, or,
as it were, trailing be- hind, without ap-
parent motion. It thus moves half a mile directly.
The front-rank polygonum is apparently in prime;
low, solid, of a pinkish rose-color. Notice the small
As I row by, see a green bittern near by standing erect
on Monroe's boat. Finding that it is observed, it draws
in its head and stoops to conceal itself. When it flies
it seems to have no tail. It allowed me to approach so
near, apparently being deceived by some tame ducks
Aug. 26. 2 P. M. To White Pond.
The leersia or cut-grass in the old pad ditch by path
beyond Hubbard's Grove.
As I cross the upland sprout-land south of Ledum
Swamp, I see that the fine sedge there is half withered
and brown, and it is too late for that cheerful yellow
Thread my way through the blueberry swamp in front
of Martial Miles's. The high blueberries far above your
head in the shade of the swamp retain their freshness
and coolness a long time. Little blue sacks full of swampy
nectar and ambrosia commingled, like schnapps or
what-not, that you break with your teeth. Is not this
the origin of the German name as given by Gerard ? But
there is far the greatest show of choke-berries there, rich
to see. I wade and press my way through endless thick-
ets of these untasted berries, their lower leaves now fast
reddening. Yet they have an.agreeable juice, though
the pulp may be rejected, and perhaps they might be
made into wine.
The shrilling of the alder locust is the solder that welds.
these autumn days together. All bushes (arbusta)
resound with their song, and you wade up to your ears
in it. Methinks the burden of their song is the countless
harvests of the year, berries, grain, and other fruits.
I am interested by the little ridge or cliff of foam
which the breeze has raised along the White Pond shore,
the westerly breeze causing the wavelets to lapse on the
1860] FOAM ON A POND-SHORE
shore and mix the water with the air gradually. Though
this is named White Pond from the whiteness of its
sandy shore, the line of foam is infinitely whiter, far
whiter than any sand. This reminds me how far a white
pond-shore, i. e. the sand, may be seen. I saw from
Monadnock the north shore of a large pond in Nelson
which was some eight miles north by the map, very
distinct to every one who looked that way. Perhaps in
such cases a stronger light is reflected from the water on
to the shore. The highest ridge of foam is where it is
held or retained and so built up gradually behind some
brush or log on the shore, by additions below, into a
little cliff, like a sponge. In other places it is rolled like
a muff. It is-all light and trembling in the air.
Thus we are amused with foam, a hybrid between
two elements. A breeze comes and gradually mingles
some of the water with the air. It is, as it were, the
aspiration of the pond to soar into the air. The debatable
ground between two oceans, the earth, or shore, being
only the point of resistance, where they are held to mingle.
See nowadays the pretty little Castile-soap ghlls on
the shrub oaks. Their figure / -\ is like the In-
dian girdle of triangular points. Also other
galls, yellowish and red on dif- ferent sides.
The pussy clover heads were most interesting, large,
and puffy, say ten days ago.
I notice milkweed in a hollow in the field by the cove
at White Pond, as if the seed had settled there, owing
to the lull of the wind.
It is remarkable how commonly you see the thistle-
down sailing just over water (as I do after this the 2d
of September at Walden). I see there, i. e. at Walden,
at 5 P. M., September Ed, many seedless thistle-downs
sailing about a foot above the water, and some in it, as if
there was a current just above the surface which pre-
vented their falling or rising. They are probably wafted
to the water because there is more air over water.
Aug. 27. P. M. To Ministerial Swamp.
Clear weather within a day or two after the thick dog-
days. The nights have been cooler of late, but the heat
of the sun by day has been more local and palpable, as
it were. It is as if the sun touched your shoulder with a
hot hand while there are cool veins in the air. That is,
I am from time to time surprised and oppressed by a
melting heat on my back in the sun, though I am sure of
a greater general coolness. The heat is less like that of
an apartment equably warmed, and more like that [of]
a red-hot iron carried about and which you occasionally
See one of the shrilling green alder locusts on the
under side of a grape leaf. Its body is about three quar-
ters of an inch or less in length; antennae and all, two
inches. Its wings are at first perpendicular above its
shoulders, it apparently having just ceased shrilling.
Transparent, with lines crossing them.
Notice now that sour-tasting white (creamy, for coi-
sistence) incrustation between and on the berries of the
smooth sumach, like frostwork. Is it not an exudation ?
or produced by the bite of an insect?
Calamagrostis coarcataa grass by Harrington's Pool,
Ministerial Swamp, say one week (not in prime).
SUNSET ON WALDEN
Muhlenbergia glomerata, same place, say ten days, or
Gather some of those large and late low blackberries
(as at Thrush Alley) which run over the thin herbage,
green moss, etc., in open pitch pine woods.
Aug. 28. About 6.20 P. M. -paddled on Walden.
Near the shore I see at least one little skater to a foot,
further off one to a yard, and in middle not more than
one to a rod; but I see no gyrinus at all here to-night.
At first the sky was completely overcast, but, just
before setting, the sun came out into a clear space in the
horizon and fell on the east end of the pond and
the hillside, and this sudden blaze of light on the still
very fresh green leaves was a wonderful contrast with
the previous and still surrounding darkness. Indeed, the
bright sunlight was at this angle reflected from the water
at the east end while I in the middle was in the shade
of the east woods up under the verdure of the bushes
and trees on the shore and on Pine Hill, especially to the
tender under sides and to the lower leaves not often lit
up. Thus a double amount of light fell on them, and the
most vivid and varied shades of green were revealed. I
never saw such a green glow before. The outline of each
shrub and tree was a more or less distinct downy or
silvery crescent, where the light was reflected from the
under side of the most downy, or newest, leaves, as
I should not have seen it at midday, either because
the light fell more on the under sides of the leaves, being
so horizontal and also reflected upward, or because the
leaves stood more erect at this hour and after a cloudy
day, or for both reasons. The lit water at the east end
was invisible to me, or no more than a line, but the shore
itself was a very distinct whitish line. When the sun fell
lower, and the sunlight no longer fell on the pond, the
green blaze of the hillside was at once very much dimin-
ished, because the light was no longer reflected upward
At sunset the air over the pond is 62 +; the water at
the top, 740; poured from a stopped bottle which lay
at the bottom where one hundred feet deep, twenty or
thirty minutes, 550 (and the same when drawn up in an
open bottle which lay five minutes at the bottom); in an
open bottle drawn up from about fifty feet depth (there)
or more, after staying there five minutes, 63. This about
half the whole difference between the top and bottom,
so that the temperature seems to fall regularly as you
descend, at the rate of about one degree to five feet. When
I letthe stopped bottle down quickly, the cork was forced
out before it got to the bottom, when [ ? ] the water drawn
up stood at 660. Hence it seemed to be owing to the
rising of the warmer water and air in the bottle. Five
minutes with the open bottle at the bottom was as good
as twenty with it stopped.
I found it 2 warmer than the 24th, though the air was
then 40 warmer than now. Possibly, comparing one day
with the next, it is warmer at the bottom in a cold day
and colder in a warm day, because when the surface is
cooled it mixes more with the bottom, while the average
temperature is very slightly changed.
The Lycopodium inundatum common by Harrington's
mud-hole, Ministerial Swamp.
1860] THE HAIRY HUCKLEBERRY
Hear the night-warbler and whip-poor-will.
There was no prolonged melody of birds on the sum-
mit of Monadnock. They for the most part emitted
sounds there more in'harmony with the silent rocks, -
a faint chipping or chinking, often somewhat as of two
stones struck together.
Aug. 30. Surveying Minott's land.
Am surprised to find on his hard land, where he once
raised potatoes, the hairy huckleberry, which before I
had seen in swamps only. Here, too, they are more
edible, not so insipid, yet not quite edible generally.
They are improved, you would say, by the firmer
ground. The berries are in longer racemes or clusters
than any of our huckleberries. They are the prevailing
berry all over this field. They are oblong and black, and
the thick, shaggy-feeling coats left in the mouth are far
from agreeable to the palate. Are now in prime.
Also find, in one of his ditches where peat was dug (or
mud), the Lemna polyrhiza; not found in Concord be-
fore, and said not to blossom in this country. I found
it at Pushaw. Also the Muhlenbergia glomerata near
the lemna, or southeast of it.
The hairy huckleberry and muhlenbergia, I think,
grow here still because" Minott is an old-fashioned man
and has not scrubbed up and improved his land as many,
or most, have. It is in a wilder and more primitive con-
dition. The very huckleberries are shaggy there. There
was only one straight side to his land, and that I cut
through a dense swamp. The fences are all meandering,
just as they were at least in 1746, when it was described.
The lemna reminds me strongly of that greenish or
yellowish scum which I see mantling some barn-yard
pools. It makes the same impression on the eye at a
little distance. You would say it was the next higher
stage of vegetation. The smallest of pads, one sixth of an
inch in diameter and, like the white lily pad, crimson
beneath. It completely covers two or three ditches under
the edge of the wood there, except where a frog has
jumped in and revealed the dark water, and maybe
there rests, his green snout concealed amid it; but it
soon closes over him again when he has dived. These
minute green scales completely cover some ditches,
except where a careless frog has leapt in or swam across,
and rent the veil.
There is also, floating in little masses, a small ranun-
culus-like plant, flattish-stemmed with small forks,
some of it made into minute caddis-cases. Perhaps it
was cut up by some creature at the bottom. Vide press.
Sept. 1. P. M. To Walden.
Saw a fish hawk yesterday up the Assabet. In one
position it flew just like a swallow; of the same form as
We could not judge correctly of distances on the
mountain, but greatly exaggerated them. That surface
was so novel, suggested so many thoughts, and
also so uneven, a few steps sufficing to conceal the least
ground, as if it were half a mile away, that we would
have an impression as if we had travelled a mile when
we had come only forty rods. We no longer thought and
reasoned as in the plain.
Now see many birds about E. Hubbard's elder hedge,
- bobolinks, kingbirds, pigeon woodpeckers, and
Many pine stipules fallen yesterday. Also see them on
Hear that F. Hayden saw and heard geese a fortnight
I see within an oak stump on the shore of Walden
tomato plants six or eight inches high, as I found them
formerly about this pond in a different place. Since
they do not bear fruit the seed must be annually brought
here by birds, yet I do not see them pecking the toma-
toes in our gardens, and this is a mile and a half from the
village and half a mile from the nearest house in Lin-
River about eight inches above summer level yester-
We are so accustomed to see another forest spring up
immediately as a matter of course, whether from the
stump or from the seed, when a forest is cut down, never
troubling about the succession, that we hardly associate
the seed with the tree, and do not anticipate the time
when this regular succession will cease and we shall be
obliged to plant, as they do in all old countries. The
planters of Europe must have a very different, a much
correcter, notion of the value of the seed of forest trees
than we. To speak generally, they know that the for-
est trees spring from seeds, as we do of apples and pears,
but we know only that they come out of the earth.
See how artfully the seed of a cherry is placed in
order that a bird may be compelled to transport it. It
is placed in the very midst of a tempting pericarp, so that
the creature that would devour a cherry must take a
stone into its mouth. The bird is bribed with the peri-
carp to take the stone with it and do this little service
for Nature. Cherries are especially birds' food, and
many kinds are called birds' cherry, and unless we plant
the seeds occasionally, I shall think the birds have the
best right to them. Thus a bird's wing is added to the
cherry-stone which was wingless, and it does not wait
for winds to transport it. If you ever ate a cherry, and
did not make two bites of it, you must have perceived
it. There it is, right in the midst of the luscious morsel,
an earthy residuum left on the tongue. And some wild
men and children instinctively swallow it, like the birds,
as the shortest way to get rid of it. And the conse-
quence is that cherries not only grow here but there, and
I know of some handsome young English cherries
growing naturally in our woods, which I think of trans-
planting back again to my garden. If the seed had been
placed in a leaf, or at the root, it would not have got
transported thus. Consider how many seeds of plants
we take into our mouths. Even stones as big as peas, a
dozen at once.
The treatment of forests is a very different question
to us and to the English. There is a great difference
between replanting the cleared land from the super-
abundance of seed which is produced in the forest around
it, which will soon be done by nature alone if we do not
interfere, and the planting of land the greater part of
which has been cleared for more than a thousand years.
Sept. 2. P. M. To Annursnack.
Solidago nemoralis apparently in prime, and S. stricta.
The former covers A. Hosmer's secluded turtle field
near the bridge, together with johnswort, now merely
Sept. 3. P. M. To Bateman's Pond.
2 P. M. -River six and seven eighths above [sum-
Here is a beautiful, and perhaps first decidedly
autumnal, day, a cloudless sky, a clear air, with,
S[Excursions, p. 188; Riv. 230, 231.]
maybe, veins of coolness. As you look toward the sun,
the [sic] shines more than in the spring. The dense fresh
green grass which has sprung up since it was mowed, on
most ground, reflects a blaze of light, as if it were morn-
ing all the day. The meads and slopes are enamelled with
it, for there has been no drought nor withering. We see
the smokes of burnings on various sides. The farmers
are thus clearing up their pastures, some, it may be,
in preparation for plowing. Though it is warm enough,
I notice again the swarms of fuzzy gnats dancing in
the cooler air, which also is decidedly autumnal.
See on the two pear trees by the Boze cellar ripe
pears, some ripe several days. Most are bitter, others
mealy, but one was quite sweet and good, of middling
size, and prettier than most cultivated ones. It had a
few faint streaks of red and was exceeding wax-like.
Sept. 4. P. M. To Conantum.
At my Swamp Brook crossing at Willow Bay, I see
where a great many little red maples have sprung up in
a potato-field, apparently since the last plowing or culti-
vating this year. They extend more or less thickly as
much as eleven rods in a northwest direction from a
small tree, the only red maple in that neighborhood.
And it is evidently owing to the land having been culti-
vated this year that the seed vegetated there; otherwise
there would now be no evidence that any such seeds
had fallen here. Last year and for many years it has
been a pasture. It is evident that land may be kept as a
pasture and covered with grass any number of years,
and though there are maples adjacent to it, none of the
seed will catch in it; but at last it is plowed, and this
year the seed which falls on it germinates, and if it
chances not to be plowed again, and cattle are kept out,
you soon have a maple wood there. So of other light-
It is cooler these days and nights, and I move into an
eastern chamber in the morning, that I may sit in the
sun. The water, too, is cooler when I bathe in it, and I
am reminded that this recreation has its period. I feel
like a melon or other fruit laid in the sun to ripen. I
grow, not gray, but yellow.
Saw flocks of pigeons the 2d and 3d. I see and hear
on Conantum an upland plover. The goldfinch is very
busy pulling the thistle to pieces.
What I have called Muhlenbergia sobolifera is in
prime (say a week); the M. Mexicana not quite (say in
two or three days).
Sept. 5. P. M. To Ball's Hill.
The brink of the river is still quite interesting in
some respects, and to some eyes more interesting than
ever. Though the willows and button-bushes have
already assumed an autumnal hue, and the pontederia
is extensively crisped and blackened, the dense masses
of mikania, now, it may be, paler than before, are per-
haps more remarkable than ever. I see some masses of
it, overhanging the deep water and completely conceal-
ing the bush that supports them, which are as rich a
sight as any flower we have, little terraces of contigu-
ous corymbs, like mignonette (?). Also the dodder is
1 Vide Aug. 22d.
more revealed, also draping the brink over the water.
The mikania is sometimes looped seven or eight feet
high to a tree above the bushes, a manifest vine, with
its light-colored corymbs at intervals.
See the little dippers back. Did I not see a marsh
hawk in imperfect plumage ? Quite brown, with some
white midway the wings, and tips of wings black ?
What further adds to the beauty of the bank is the
hibiscus, in prime, and the great bidens.
Having walked through a quantity of desmodium
under Ball's Hill, by the shore there (Marilandicum or
rigidum), we found our pants covered with its seeds to
a remarkable and amusing degree. These green scales
closely covering and greening my legs reminded me of
the lemna on a ditch. It amounted to a kind of coat of
mail. It was the event of our walk, and we were proud
to wear this badge, as if he were the most distinguished
who had the most on his clothes. My companion ex-
pressed a certain superstitious feeling about it, for he
said he thought it would not be right to walk intention-
ally amid the desmodium so as to get more of the ticks
on us, nor yet to pick them off, but they must be carried
about till they are rubbed off accidentally. I saw that
Nature's design was furthered even by his superstition.
Sept. 6. The willows and button-bushes have very
rapidly yellowed since I noticed them August 22d. I
think it was the 25th of August that I found the lower
or older leaves of the willow twigs decidedly and rapidly
yellowing and decaying on a near inspection. Now the
change is conspicuous at a distance.
Sept. 7. P. M. To Cardinal Shore.
I see many seedling shrub oaks springing up in
Potter's field by the swamp-side, some (of last year) in
the open pasture, but many more in the birch wood half a
dozen rods west from the shrub oaks by the path. The
former were dropped by the way. They plant in birch
woods as in pines. This small birch wood has been a
retreat for squirrels and birds. When I examine the
little oaks in the open land there is always an effete acorn
Common rose hips as handsome as ever.
Sept. 8. To Lowell via Boston.
Pursh's [sic] Brassica Napus is "radice caulescente
fusiformi, fol. laevibus, superioribus cordato-lanceolatis
amplexicaulibus, inferioribus lyratis dentatis." Fre-
quently found wild. The lower leaves of mine are con-
siderably bristly. Sowerby's Botany at Cambridge says
of B. campestris, "Pods upright, cylindrical, or very
obscurely quadrangular, veiny, the seeds slightly pro-
jecting, the beak awl-shaped, striated, square at its
base." B. Napus, "Pod on a slender stalk, spread-
ing, round, beaded, with an angular point." Mine is
apparently B. Napus, judging from pods, for the lower
leaves are all eaten. Vide young plants in spring.2
Sept. 9. In Lowell. My host says that the ther-
mometer was at 800 yesterday morning, and this morn-
ing is at 520. Sudden coolness.
1 [The quotation is from Persoon's Synopsis Plantarum.]
2 Vide back, Aug. 19th.
Clears up in afternoon, and I walk down the Merri-
mack on the north bank. I see very large plants of the
lanceolate thistle, four feet high and very branching.
Also Aster cordata with the corymbosus.
Concord River has a high and hard bank at its
mouth, maybe thirty feet high on the east side; and my
host thinks it was originally about as high on the west
side, where now it is much lower and flat, having been
dug down. There is a small isle in the middle of the
mouth. There are rips in the Merrimack just below the
mouth of the Concord. There is a fall and dam in the
Concord at what was Hurd's factory, -the principal fall
on the Concord, in Lowell, one at a bleachery above,
and at Whipple's, three in all below Billerica dam.
Sept. 10. Lowell to Boston and Concord.
There was a frost this morning, as my host, who keeps
a market, informed me.
Leaving Lowell at 7 A. M. in the cars, I observed and
admired the dew on a fine grass in the meadows, which
was almost as white and silvery as frost when the rays of
the newly risen sun fell on it. Some of it was probably the
frost of the morning melted. I saw that this phenome-
non was confined to one species of grass, which grew in
narrow curving lines and small patches along the edges
of the meadows or lowest ground, a grass with very
fine stems and branches, which held the dew; in short,
that it was what I had falsely called Eragrostis capillaris,
but which is probably the Sporobolus serotinus, almost
the only, if not the only, grass there in its prime. And
thus this plant has its day. Owing to the number of its
very fine branches, now in their prime, it holds the dew
like a cobweb, a clear drop at the end and lesser drops
or beads all along the fine branches and stems. It grows
on the higher parts of the meadows, where other herbage
is thin, and is the less apt to be cut: and, seen toward the
sun not long after sunrise, it is very conspicuous and
bright a quarter of a mile off, like frostwork. Call it
dew-grass. I find its hyaline seed.1
Almost every plant, however humble, has thus its day,
and sooner or later becomes the characteristic feature of
some part of the landscape or other.
Almost all other grasses are now either cut or wither-
ing, and are, beside, so coarse comparatively that they
can never present this phenomenon. It is only a grass
that is in its full vigor, as well as fine-branched (capil-
lary), that can thus attract and uphold the dew. This is
noticed about the time the first frosts come.
If you sit at an open attic window almost anywhere,
about the 20th of September, you will see many a
milkweed down go sailing by on a level with you, -
though commonly it has lost its freight, notwithstand-
ing that you may not know of any of these plants grow-
ing in your neighborhood.
My host, yesterday, told me that he was accustomed
once to chase a black fox 2 from Lowell over this way
and lost him at Chelmsford. Had heard of him within
about six years. A Carlisle man also tells me since that
this fox used to turn off and run northwest from Chelms-
ford, but that he would soon after return.
1 Also saw it the 16th.
2Like the silver, made a variety of the red by Baird.
Sept. 11. George Melvin came to tell me this fore-
noon that a strange animal was killed on Sunday, the
9th, near the north line of the town, and it was not known
certainly what it was. From his description I judged it
to be a Canada lynx. In the afternoon I went to see it.
It was killed on Sunday morning by John Quincy
Adams, who lives in Carlisle about half a mile (or less)
from the Concord line, on the Carlisle road.
Some weeks ago a little girl named Buttrick, who was
huckleberrying near where the lynx was killed, was
frightened by a wild animal leaping out of the bushes
near her over her, as she said and bounding off.
But no one then regarded her story. Also a Mr. Grimes,
who lives in Concord just on the line, tells me that some
month ago he heard from his house the loud cry of an
animal in the woods northward, and told his wife that if
he were in Canada he should say it was a bob-tailed cat.
He had lived seven years in Canada and seen a number
of this kind of animal. Also a neighbor of his, riding
home in the night, had heard a similar cry. Jacob
Farmer saw a strange animal at Bateman's Pond a year
ago, which he thinks was this.
Adams had lost some of his hens, and had referred
it to a fox or the like. He being out, his son told me that
on Sunday he went out with his gun to look after the
depredator, and some forty or fifty rods from his house
northwesterly 1 (on Dr. Jones's lot, which I surveyed)
in the woods, this animal suddenly dropped within two
feet of him, so near that he could not fire. He had heard
a loud hiss, but did not mind it. He accordingly struck
A CANADA LYNX
it with the butt of his gun, and it then bounded off
fifteen feet 1 or more, turned about, and faced him,
whereupon he fired directly into its eyes, putting them
out. His gun was loaded with small shot, No. 9. The
creature then bounded out of sight, and he had a chance
to reload, by which time it appeared again, crawling
toward him on its belly, fiercely seeking him. He fired
again, and, it still facing him, he fired a third time also,
and finally finished it with the butt of his gun.
It was now skinned and the skin stuffed with hay, and
the skull had been boiled, in order to be put* into the
I measured the stuffed skin carefully. From the fore-
head (the nose pointing down) to end of tail, 3 feet 41
[inches]. Tail stout and black at the abrupt end,
5 inches. Extreme length from fore paws to hind paws,
4 feet 8 inches, when stretched out, the skin being stiff.
(They said it measured 5 feet before it was skinned,
which is quite likely.) Forehead to extremity of hind
feet, 501 inches. It stood, as nearly as I could measure,
holding it up, 19 to 20 inches high from ground to
shoulder. From midway between the legs beneath, the
hind legs measured 19 inches, within; the fore legs, 16
inches, within. From skull to end of tuft on ear, 41
inches; tuft on ear (black and thin), 1- inches. The
width of fore paw gently pressed was 3i inches; would
have made a track perhaps four inches wide in snow.
There was a small bare brown tubercle of flesh to each toe,
and also a larger one for the sole, amid the grayish-white
1 Another says he told him thirty feet and that they went and
measured it. Vide forward.
hair. A principal claw was i inch long measured directly,
but it was very curving.
For color: It was, above,
brownish-gray, with a dark-
brown or black line down the
> middle of the back. Sides
gray, with small dark-brown
spots, more or less within the hair. Beneath, lighter,
hoary, and long-haired. Legs gray, like the sides, but
more reddish-brown behind, especially the hind legs,
and these, like the belly and sides, were indistinctly
spotted with dark brown, having the effect more of a
dark-brown tinge at a little distance than of spots. Gen-
eral aspect brownish-hoary. Tail, above, more reddish
than rest of back, much, and conspicuously black at end.
Did not notice any white at tip. Throat pretty white.
Ears, without, broadly edged with black half an inch
or more wide, the rest being a triangular white. There
was but a small muffler, chiefly a
C triangular whitish and blackish tuft
/ on the sides of the face or neck, not
Q'' noticeably under the chin.
It weighed, by their account,
nineteen pounds. This was a female, and Farmer
judged from his examination of the mamme two
or more of them being enlarged, and the hair worn off
around them that it had suckled young this year.
The fur was good for nothing now.
I cannot doubt that this is a Canada lynx; yet I am
somewhat puzzled by the descriptions of the two lynxes.
Emmons says of the Canada lynx that it has no naked
A CANADA LYNX
spots or tubercles [on the soles of its feet] like the other
species of the feline race;" and Audubon says, "Soles,
hairy;" but of the Lynx rufus, "Soles naked."
It is Audubon's L. rufus in the naked soles, also in
" ears, outer surface, a triangular spot of dull white, .
bordered with brownish-black," not described in his
Canadensis. It is his L. Canadensis in size, in color
generally, in length of ear-tuft (his L. rufus tufts being
only half an inch), in upper surface of the tail, to within
an inch of the tip, and exterior portion of the thighs,
rufous," in tail being stout, not "slender" like rufus.
Audubon says that the L. rufus is easily distinguished
from small specimens of the female L. Canadensis by
" the larger feet and more tufted ears of the latter, ... as
well as its grayer color." This is four inches longer than
his smaller Canada lynx and exactly as long as his
larger on'e, both his being males. Emmons's one is
also just 37 inches, or the same length. Emmons's
largest L. rufus is, thus measured, only 29 inches long
and Audubon's "fine specimen" only 30 inches.
Grimes, who had lived seven years in Canada, called
this a "bob-tailed cat," and said that the Canada lynx
was as dark as his dog, which would be called a black
dog, though somewhat brownish.
They told me there that a boy had seen another, sup-
posed to be its mate,' this morning, and that they were
going out to hunt it toward night.2
The water is cold to-day, and bathing begins to be
1 Only a stone. 2 Vide next page.
The turtles, painted and sternoth.erus, are certainly
less timid than in the spring. I see a row of half a dozen
or more painted turtles on a slanting black willow, so
close together that two or three of them actually have
their fore feet on the shells of their predecessors, some-
what like a row of bricks that is falling. The scales of
some are curled up and just falling.
Sept. 12. Very heavy rain to-day equinoctiall), raising
the river suddenly. I have said, within a week, that the
river would rise this fall because it did not at all in the
spring, and now it rises. A very dark and stormy night
(after it); shops but half open. Where the fence is not
painted white I can see nothing, and go whistling for
fear I run against some one, though there is little danger
that any one will be out. I come against a stone post
and bruise my knees; then stumble over a bridge, -
being in the gutter. You walk with your hands out to
feel the fences and trees. There is no vehicle in the
The thermometer at 4 p. M. was 540.
There was pretty high wind in the night.
Sept. 13. I go early to pick up my windfalls. Some of
them are half buried in the soil, the rain having spat-
tered the dirt over them.
The river this morning, about 7 A. M., is already
twenty-eight and a half inches above summer level, and
more than twenty inches of this is owing to the rain of
yesterday and last night!! By 1.30 p. M., when it has
risen two or three inches more, I can just cross the
1860] THE CURRENT OF THE RIVER 83
meadow in a straight line to the Rock. I see a snake
swimming on the middle of the tide, far from shore,
washed out of the meadow, and myriads of grasshoppers
and beetles, etc., are wrecked or clinging to the weeds
and stubble that rises above the flood. At evening the
river is five inches higher than in the morning.
There is very little current at my boat's place this
evening, yet a chip floats down (and next morning, the
14th, I see that a large limb has been carried up-stream
during the night, from where it lay at evening, some
twenty rods above the junction, to a place thirty rods
above the junction). Yet, when I try the current (in the
evening of the 13th) with a chip, it goes down at Heron
Rock, but the limb was large and irregular, and sank
very deep in the water; so I think that the Assabet water
was running up beneath while the Musketaquid flowed
down over it slowly.
A Carlisle man tells me of a coon he killed in Carlisle
which weighed twenty-three and a half pounds and
dressed fourteen pounds. He frequently sees and hears
them at present.
On the 13th I go to J. Q. Adams's again to see the
lynx. Farmer said that if the skin was tainted the hair
would come off.
The tail is black at extremity for one inch, and no
white at tip; the rest of it above is rust-color (beneath
it is white), with the slightest possible suggestion of
white rings, i. e. a few white hairs noticed. When
stretched or spread the fore foot measured just 5 inches
in width, the hind foot scarcely less than 6 inches. The
black border on the ear was broadest on the inner
(i. e. toward the other ear) and forward side, I inch
and more. The tufts on the ears only about + inch
Adams went to show me the carcass. It was quite
sweet still (13th, in afternoon), only a little fly-blown. No
quadruped or bird had touched it. Remarkably long
and slender, made for jumping. The muscles of the
thigh were proportionately very large. I thought the
thigh would measure now 9 inches in circumference.
I had heard that there was nothing in its stomach, but
we opened the paunch and found it full of rabbits' fur.
I cut off a fore leg.
He said that he had lost two or three hens only, and
apparently did not think much of that. The first he
knew the animal was within three feet of him, so that
he could hardly turn his gun to strike him. He did not
know where he came from, whether from over the
wall, to which he was near, or from a chestnut, for he
was in the midst of the woods of Jones's lot, not cut.
He felt somewhat frightened. Struck him with the butt
of his gun, but did not hurt him much, he was so quick.
He jumped at once thirty feet, turned round, and faced
him. He then fired, about thirty feet, at his eyes, and
destroyed one, perhaps put out the other, too. He
then bounded out of sight. When he had loaded he found
him crawling toward him on his belly as if to spring
upon him; fired again, and thinks he mortally wounded
him then. After loading, approached, and the lynx faced
him, all alive. He then fired, and the lynx leapt up fif-
teen feet, fell, and died. Either at the second or last shot
THE CANADA LYNX
leapt within ten feet of him. He was much impressed
by his eyes and the ruff standing out on the sides of his
This was about one hundred and thirty rods easterly
from his house.
The skinned tail measured 5 inches. I boiled the leg
on the 14th (five days after it was killed) for the bone. It
smelled and looked like very good meat, like mutton.
Vide Salem lynxes, September 23d, 1858.1
It is remarkable how slow people are to-believe that
there are any wild animals in their neighborhood. They
who have seen this generally suppose that it got out of
a menagerie; others that it strayed down from far north.
At most they call it Canada lynx. In Willey's White
Mountain book the same animal is spoken of as a terror
to the hunter and called the "Siberian Lynx." What
they call it I know not.
I do not think it necessary even to suppose it a strag-
gler, but only very rare hereabouts. I have seen two
lynxes that were killed between here and Salem since
'27. Have heard of another killed in or near Andover.
There may have been many more killed as near within
thirty years and I not have heard of it, for they who kill
one commonly do not know what it is. They are noc-
turnal in their habits, and therefore are the more rarely
seen, yet a strange animal is seen in this town by some-
body about every year, or its track. I have heard of two
or three such within a year, and of half a dozen within
fifteen years. Such an animal might range fifteen to
twenty miles back and forth from Acton to Tewksbury
I Vide extract from Richardson, Nov. 10, 1860.
and find more woodland than in the southern part of
New Hampshire generally.
Farmer says that a farmer in Tewksbury told him
two or three years ago that he had seen deer lately on
the pine plain thereabouts.
Adams gdt a neighbor to help him skin the lynx, a
middle-aged man; but he was "so nervous" and un-
willing to touch even the dead beast, when he came to
see it, that he gave him but little assistance.
Dr. Reynolds tells me of a lynx killed in Andover, in a
swamp near Haggerty's Pond, one winter when he kept
school in Tewksbury, about 1820. At first it was seen
crossing the Merrimack into Tewksbury, and there was
accordingly a story of an animal about that was ten feet
long. They turned out, all the hunters of the neighbor-
hood, and tracked it in the snow, across Tewksbury to
the swamp in Andover and back again to Tewksbury.
One old hunter bet something that they could not show
him a track which he did not know, but when they
showed him this he gave up. Finally they tracked it to
the Andover swamp, and a boy shot it on a tree, though
it leapt and fell within a few feet of him when shot.
Rice tells of a common wildcat killed in Sudbury
some forty years ago, resting on some ice as it was
crossing the Sudbury meadows amid ice and water.
Mr. Boutwell of Groton tells me that a lynx was
killed in Dunstable within two or three years. Thinks
it is in the State Museum.'
This makes five that I have heard of (and seen three)
SVide "New England's Prospect" near beginning of Indian Book
MR. DAVIS'S MUSEUM
killed within some fifteen or eighteen miles of Concord
within thirty years past, and no doubt there have been
three times as many of them killed here.'
Sept. 14. A. M.-River still rising; at 4 P. M. one
and an eighth inches higher than in morning.
Sept. 15. In morning river is three feet two and a half
plus inches above summer level. 6 P. M., river is slightly
higher than in morning, or at height. Thus it reached
its height the third day after the rain; had risen on the
morning of the third day about thirty inches on account
of the rain of one day (the 12th).
Joe Smith's man brings me this forenoon a fish hawk
which was shot on George Brooks's pigeon-stand last
evening.. It is evidently a female of this year, full grown.
Length 23 inches; alar extent 5 feet 61 inches. It prob-
ably lit there merely for a perch.
Looked at Mr. Davis's museum. Miss Lydia Hosmer
(the surviving maiden lady) has given him some relics
which belonged to her (the Hosmer) family. A small
lead or pewter sun-dial, which she told him was brought
over by her ancestors and which has the date 1626
scratched on it. Also some stone weights in an ancient
1 Vide Sept. 29, 1856. Walcott [ ] saw a lynk of some kind which
was killed in (his father's ? ) barn in Bolton [? ] some twenty-five years
ago; not so big as mine. Bradford says the Essex Institute have an-
other killed in that neighborhood more recently.
Oct. 15. Channing reads in papers that within a few days a wild-
cat was killed in Northampton weighing twenty-two pounds and
another in Tyringham, Berkshire County, of thirty-six pounds (of
course L. Canadensis both).
88 JOURNAL [SEPT. 15
linen bag, said to have been brought from England.
They were oval stones or pebbles from the shore, or
might have been picked up at Walden. There was a
pound, a half-pound, a quarter, a two-ounce, and several
one-ounce weights, now all rather dark and ancient to
look at, like the bag. This was to me the most interesting
relic in his collection. I love to see anything that implies
a simpler mode of life and greater nearness to the
Sept. 16. 7 A. M. River fallen one and a half inches.
Is three feet and seven eighths of an inch above summer
level, i. e. at notch on tree. I mark a willow eight feet
above summer level.
See no zizania seed ripe, or black, yet, but almost all
Sept. 17. 6.30 A. M. River thirty-four and an
eighth above summer level, or fallen about four inches
since evening of 15th. It flows now (a sunk bottle) one
hundred feet in two minutes at boat's place, there being
P. M. Up river.
Pontederia seeds falling.
See a flock of eight or ten wood ducks on the Grind-
stone Meadow, with glass, some twenty-five rods off, -
several drakes very handsome. They utter a creaking
scream as they sail there, being alarmed, from
time to time, shrill and loud, very unlike the black duck.
At last one sails off, calling the others by a short creaking
1860] THE FIRST AUTUMNAL DAY
Sept. 18. According to all accounts, very little corn is
fit to grind before October 1st (though I have one kind
ripe and fit to grind September 1st). It becomes hard
and dry enough in the husk in the field by that time,
much of it. But long before this, or say by the 1st of
September, it begins to glaze (or harden on the surface),
when it begins to be too hard to boil.
P. M. To beeches.
This is a beautiful day, warm but not too warm, a
harvest day (I am going down the railroad causeway),
the first unquestionable and conspicuous autumnal day,
when the willows and button-bushes are a yellowed
bower in parallel lines along the swollen and shining
stream. The first autumnal tints (of red maples) are now
generally noticed. The shrilling of the alder locust fills
the air. A brightness as of spring is reflected from the
green shorn fields. Both sky and earth are bright. The
first clear blue and shining white (of clouds). Corn-
stalk-tops are stacked about the fields; potatoes are
being dug; smokes are seen in the horizon. It is the
season of agricultural fairs. If you are not happy to-day
you will hardly be so to-morrow.
Leaving Lowell on the morning of the 10th, after the
rain of the day before, I passed some heaps of brush in
an opening in the woods, a pasture surrounded by
woods, to which the owner was just setting fire, wet
as they were, it being the safest time to burn them.
Hence they make so much smoke sometimes. Some
farmer, perhaps, wishes to plow this fall there, and sow
rye perchance, or merely to keep his pasture clear.
Hence the smokes in the horizon at this season. The