June 21, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Having noticed the pine pollen washed up on the shore of three or four ponds in the woods lately and at Ripple Lake, a dozen rods from the nearest pine, also having seen the pollen carried off visibly half a dozen rods from a pitch pine which I had jarred, and rising all the while when there was very little wind, it suggested to me that the air must be full of this fine dust at this season, that it must be carried to great distances, when dry, and falling at night perhaps, or with a change in the atmosphere, its presence might be detected remote from pines by examining the edges of pretty large bodies of water, where it would be collected to one side by the wind and waves from a large area.

So I thought over all the small ponds in the township in order to select one or more most remote from the woods or pines, whose shores I might examine and so test my theory. I could think of none more favorable than this little pond only four rods in diameter, a watering-place in John Brown’s pasture, which has but few pads in it. It is a small round pond at the bottom of a hollow in the midst of a perfectly bare, dry pasture. The nearest wood of any kind is just thirty-nine rods distant northward, and across a road from the edge of the pond. Any other wood in other directions is five or six times as far. I knew it was a bad time to try my experiment, —just after such heavy rains and when the pines are effete, —a little too late.  The wind was now blowing quite strong from the northeast, whereas all the pollen that I had seen hitherto had been collected on the northeast sides of ponds by a southwest wind. I approached the pond from the northeast and, looking over it and carefully along the shore there, could detect no pollen. I then proceeded to walk round it, but still could detect none. I then said to myself, If there was any here before the rain and northeast wind, it must have been on the northeast side and then have been washed over and now up high quite at or on the shore. I looked there carefully, stooping down, and was gratified to find, after all, a distinct yellow line of pollen dust about half an inch in width —or washing off to two or three times that width —quite on the edge, and some dead twigs which I took up from the wet shore were completely coated with it, as with sulphur. This yellow line reached half a rod along the southwest side, and I then detected a little of the dust slightly graying the surface for two or three feet out there. (Many little snow (?) -fleas on it.)

When I thought I had failed, I was much pleased to detect, after all, this distinct yellow line, revealing unmistakably the presence of pines in the neighborhood and thus confirming my theory. As chemists detect the presence of ozone in the atmosphere by exposing to it a delicately prepared paper, so the lakes detect for us thus the presence of the pine pollen in the atmosphere. They are our pollinometers. How much of this invisible dust must be floating in the atmosphere, and be inhaled and drunk by us at this season! Who knows but the pollen of some plants may be unwholesome to inhale, and produce the diseases of the season?

Of course a large pond will collect the most, and you will find most at the bottom of long deep bays into which the wind blows.

I do not believe that there is any part of this town on which the pollen of the pine may not fall. The time to examine the ponds this year was, I should say, from the 15th to the 20th of this month. Looking at the trees today, I find that the pines are now effete, especially the pitch pine, the sterile flowers now turned reddish. The white pine is lighter-colored, and all but a very little indeed is effete. In the white pine it is a dense cluster of twenty or thirty little flowers about the base of this year’s shoot.

I did not expect to find any pollen, the pond was so small and distant from any wood, but I thought that I would examine. Who knows but the pollen of various kinds floating through the air at this season may be the source of some of the peculiar perfumes which are not traceable to their sources?

June 20, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

And then for my afternoon walks I have a garden––larger than any artificial garden that I have read of––and far more attractive to me, mile after mile of embowered walks, with animals running free & wild therein as from the first––varied with land & water prospect––and above all so retired that it is extremely rare that you meet a single wanderer in its maze ––  No gardener is seen therein no gates nor… You may wander away to solitary bowers & brooks & hills….

June 19, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Returned by Smith’s Hill and the Saw Mill Brook. Got quite a parcel of strawberries on the hill. The hellebore leaves by the brook are already half turned yellow. Plucked one blue early blueberry. The strain of the bobolink now begins to sound a little rare. It never again fills the air as the first week after its arrival. At this season we apprehend no long storm, only showers with or without thunder. 

June 18, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I see in the southerly bays of Walden the pine pollen now washed up thickly; only at the bottom of the bays, especially the deep long bay, where it is a couple of rods long by six to twenty-four inches wide and one inch deep; pure sulphur-yellow, and now has no smell. It has come quite across the pond from where the pines stand, full half a mile, probably washed across most of the way.

June 16, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

There is a cool east wind, —and has been afternoons for several days, —which has produced a very thick haze or a fog. I find a tortoise egg on this peak at least sixty feet above the pond. There is a fine ripple and sparkle on the pond, seen through the mist. But what signifies the beauty of nature when men are base? We walk to lakes to see our serenity reflected in them.

When we are not serene, we go not to them. Who can be serene in a country where both rulers and ruled are without principle? The remembrance of the baseness of politicians spoils my walks. My thoughts are murder to the State; I endeavor in vain to observe nature; my thoughts involuntarily go plotting against the State. I trust that all just men will conspire. 

June 15, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I stood by the river to-day considering the forms of the elms reflected in the water. For every oak and birch, too, growing on the hilltop, as well as for elms and willows, there is a graceful ethereal tree making down from the roots, as it were the original idea of the tree, and sometimes Nature in high tides brings her mirror to its foot and makes it visible.  Anxious Nature sometimes reflects from pools and puddles the objects which our grovelling senses may fail to see relieved against the sky with the pure ether for background.

It would be well if we saw ourselves as in perspective always, impressed with distinct outline on the sky, side by side with the shrubs on the river’s brim. So let our life stand to heaven as some fair, sunlit tree against the western horizon, and by sunrise be planted on some eastern hill to glisten in the first rays of the daw

June 14, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

There are various new reflections now of the light, viz. from the under sides of leaves (fresh and white) turned up by the wind, and also from the bent blades (horizontal tops) of rank grass in the meadows, — a sort of bluish sheeny light, this last. Saw a wild rose from the cars’ in Weston. The early red roses are out in gardens at home.

June 13, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

How beautiful the solid cylinders of the lamb kill now just before sunset, small ten-sided rosy-crimson basins, about two inches above the recurved, dropping, dry capsules of last year, and sometimes those of the year before, two inches lower.

June 11, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The whip-poor-will suggests how wide asunder the woods and the town. Its note is very rarely heard by those who live on the street, ‘and then it is thought to be of ill omen. Only the dwellers on the outskirts of the village hear it occasionally. It sometimes comes into their yards. But go into the woods in a warm night at this season, and it is the prevailing sound. I hear now five or six at once. It is no more of ill omen therefore here than the night and the moonlight are. It is a bird not only of the woods, but of the night side of the woods.

New beings have usurped the air we breathe, rounding Nature, filling her crevices with sound. To sleep where you may hear the whip-poor-will in your dreams!….

By night no flowers, at least no variety of colors. The pinks are no longer pink; they only shine faintly, reflecting more light. Instead of flowers underfoot, stars overhead.

My shadow has the distinctness of a second person, a certain black companion bordering on the imp, and I ask, “Who is this?” which I see dodging behind me as I am about to sit down on a rock.

No one to my knowledge, has observed the minute differences in the seasons. Hardly two nights are alike. The rocks do not feel warm to-night, for the air is warmest; nor does the sand particularly. A book of the seasons, each page of which should be written out-of-doors, or in its own locality wherever it may be.

When you get into the road, though far from the town, and feel the sand under your feet, it is as if you had reached your own gravel walk. You no longer hear the whip-poor-will, nor regard your shadow, for here you expect a fellow-traveller. You catch yourself walking merely. The road leads your steps and thoughts alike to the town. You see only the path, and your thoughts wander from the objects which are presented to your senses. You are no longer in place.  It is like conformity, —walking in the ways of men.

June 10, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Another great fog this morning. 

P. M. — To Mason’s pasture in Carlisle— Haying commencing in front yards. 

Cool but agreeable easterly wind. Streets now beautiful with verdure and shade of elms—under which you look, through an air clear for summer, to the woods in the horizon—  By the way, I amused myself yesterday Pm with looking from my window, through a spyglass, at the tops of the woods in the horizon—  It was pleasant to bring them so near and individualize the trees—to examine in detail the tree tops which before you had beheld only in the mass as the woods in the horizon— It was an exceedingly rich border, seen thus against—and the imperfections in a particular tree top more than two miles off were quite apparent— I could easily have seen a hawk sailing over the top of the wood, and possibly his nest in some higher tree— Thus to contemplate from my attic in the village, the hawks circling about their nests above some dense forest or swamp miles away—almost as if they were flies on my own premises. I actually distinguished a taller white pine with which I am well acquainted—with a double top rising high above the surrounding woods—between 2 & 3 miles distant—which with the naked eye, I had confounded with the nearer woods.—

June 9, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

For a week past we have had washing days. The grass waving, and trees having leaved out, their boughs wave and feel the effect of the breeze. Thus new life and motion is imparted to the trees. The season of waving boughs; and the lighter under sides of the new leaves are exposed. This is the first half of June. Already the grass is not so fresh and liquid-velvety a green, having much of it blossom[ed] and some even gone to seed, and it is mixed with reddish ferns and other plants, but the general leafiness, shadiness, and waving of grass and boughs in the breeze characterize the season. The wind is not quite agreeable, because it prevents your hearing the birds sing. Meanwhile the crickets are strengthening their quire. The weather is very clear, and the sky bright. The river shines like silver. Methinks this is a traveller’s month. The locust in bloom. The waving, undulating rye. The deciduous trees have filled up the intervals between the evergreens, and the woods are bosky now.

June 8, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Within a day or two has begun that season of summer when you see afternoon showers, maybe with thunder, or the threat of them, dark in the horizon, and are uncertain whether to venture far away or without an umbrella. I noticed the very first such cloud on the 25th of May, —the dark iris of June. When you go forth to walk at 2 p. m. you see perhaps, in the southwest or west or maybe east horizon, a dark and threatening mass of cloud showing itself just over the woods, its base horizontal and dark, with lighter edges where it is rolled up to the light, while all beneath is the kind of dark slate of falling rain. These are summer showers, come with the heats of summer.

June 7, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a certain faery land where we live––you may walk out in any direction over the earth’s surface––lifting your horizon––and everywhere your path––climbing the convexity of the globe leads you between heaven and earth–– ––not away from the light of the sun and stars––& the habitations of men. I wonder that I ever get 5 miles on my way––the walk is so crowded with events––& phenomena. How many questions there are which I have not put to the inhabitants!

June 6, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:  

Begin to observe and to admire the forms of trees with shining foliage and each its shadow on the hillside. This morning I hear the note of young bluebirds in the air, which have recently taken wing, and the old birds keep up such a warbling and twittering as remind me of spring.

June 5, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The world now full of verdure & fragrance and the air comparatively clear (not yet the constant haze of the dog days) through which the distant fields are seen reddened with sorrel & the meadows wet green full of fresh grass & the trees in their first beautiful bright untarnished & unspotted green.

May is the bursting into leaf––and early flowering with much coolness & wet and a few decidedly warm days ushering in summer  –– June verdure & growth––but agreeable, heat–

June 4, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The clear brightness of June was well represented yesterday by the buttercups— (R. bilbosa) along the roadside— Their yellow so glossy & varnished within, but not without. Surely there is no reason why the new butter should not be yellow now—

June 3, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A large yellow butterfly (somewhat Harris Papilio Asterias like but not black-winged) three and a half to four inches in expanse. Pale-yellow, the front wings crossed by three or four black bars ; rear, or outer edge, of all wings widely bordered with black, and some yellow behind it; a short black tail to each hind one, with two blue spots in front of two red-brown ones on the tail.