August 8, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

This is a day of sunny water. As I walk along the bank of the river I look down a rod & see distinctly the fishes and the bottom. The cardinals are in perfection—standing in dark recesses of the green shore, or in the open meadow. They are fluviatile & stand along some river or brook—like myself.

August 7, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Do you not feel the fruit of your spring and summer begin to ripen, to harden its seed within you? Do not your thoughts begin to acquire consistency as well as flavor and ripeness? How can we expect a harvest of thought who have not had a seed-time of character? Already some of my small thoughts — fruit of my spring life — are ripe, like the berries which feed the first broods of birds; and other some are prematurely ripe and bright, like the lower leaves of the herbs which have felt the summer’s drought—

Seasons when our mind is like the strings of a harp which is swept—& we stand and listen. A man may hear strains in his thought far surpassing any oratorio—

….Still autumnal–breezy with a cool vein in the wind––so that passing from the cool & breezy into the sunny & warm places you begin to love the heat of Summer––  It is the contrast of the cool wind with the warm sun. I walk over the pin-weed field. It is just cool enough––in my thin clothes–– There is a light on the earth & leaves as if they were burnished–– It is the glistening autumnal side of Summer–– I feel a cool vein in the breeze––which braces my thought––& I pass with pleasure over sheltered & sunny portions of the sand where the summers heat is undiminished––& I realize what a friend I am losing….This off side of summer glistens like a burnished shield. The waters now are some degrees cooler––winds show the undersides of the leaves––  The cool nocturnal creak of the crickets is heard in the midafternoon–– Tansy is ap. now in its prime & the early golden-rods have acquired a brighter yellow––

From this off side of the year––this imbricated slope with alternating burnished surfaces & shady ledges––much more light & heat is reflected (less absorbed) methinks than from the springward side.  In the midsummer we are of the earth––confounded with it & covered with its dust.  Now we begin to erect ourselves somewhat & walk upon its surface. I am not so much reminded of former years, as of existence prior to years––  From Peters I look over the great meadows.  There are 60 or more men in sight on them––in squads of half-a dozen far & near––revealed by their white shirts–– They are alternately lost & reappear from behind a distant clump of trees. A great part of the farmers of Concord are now in the meadows.  & toward night great loads of hay are seen rolling slowly along the rivers bank––on the firmer ground there––& perhaps fording the stream itself––toward the distant barn––followed by a troop of tired haymakers….

Trillium berry  

August 6, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A man must generally get away some hundreds or thousands of miles from home before he can be said to begin his travels. Why not begin his travels at home? 

…. It takes a man of genius to travel in his own country, in his native village; to make any progress between his door and his gate.

August 5

In Thoreau’s Journal:


One sentence of perennial poetry would make me forget, would atone for, volumes of mere science. The astronomer is as blind to the significant phenomena, or the significance of phenomena, as the wood-sawyer who wears glasses to defend his eyes from sawdust. The question is not what you look at, but what you see.


Now then the river’s brim is in perfection after the mikania is in bloom & before the Pontederia & pads & the willows are too much imbrowned….

August 4, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The rush sparrow sings still unintelligible, as from beyond a depth in me which I have not fathomed, where my future lies folded up. I hear several faint notes, quite outside me, which populate the waste.

This is such fresh and flowing weather, as if the waves of the morning had subsided over the day.

August 3, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A splendid entire rainbow after a slight shower….outermost broad red—passing through yellow to green then narrow red—then blue or indigo (not plain what) then faint red again.

August 2, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a new era with the flowers when the small purple fringed orchis as now is found in shady swamps standing along the brooks. (It appears to be alone of its class— Not to be overlooked it has so much flower though not so high colored as the Arethusa).


August 1, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Since July 30th, inclusive, we have had perfect dog-days without interruption. The earth has suddenly [become] invested with a thick musty mist. The sky has become a mere fungus. A thick blue musty veil of mist is drawn before the sun. The sun has not been visible, except for a moment or two once or twice a day, all this time, nor the stars by night. Moisture reigns. You cannot dry a napkin at the window, nor press flowers without their mildewing. You imbibe so much moisture from the atmosphere that you are not so thirsty, nor is bathing so grateful as a week ago. The burning heat is tempered, but as you lose sight of the sky and imbibe the musty, misty air, you exist as a vegetable, a fungus. Unfortunate those who have not got their hay. I see them wading in overflowed meadows and pitching the black and mouldy swaths about in vain that they may dry. In the meanwhile, vegetation is becoming rank, vines of all kinds are rampant. Squashes and melons are said to grow a foot in a night. But weeds grow as fast. The corn unrolls. Berries abound and attain their full size. Once or twice in the day there is an imperfect gleam of yellow sunlight for a moment through some thinner part of the veil, reminding us that we have not seen the sun so long, but no blue sky is revealed. The earth is completely invested with cloud-like wreaths of vapor (yet fear no rain and need no veil), beneath which flies buzz hollowly and torment, and mosquitoes hum and sting as if they were born of such an air. The drooping spirits of mosquitoes revive, and they whet their stings anew. Legions of buzzing flies blacken the furniture. (For a week at least have heard that snapping sound under pads.) We have a dense fog every night, which lifts itself but a short distance during the day. At sundown I see it curling up from the river and meadows. However, I love this moisture in its season. I believe it is good to breathe, wholesome as a vapor bath. Toadstools shoot up in the yards and paths.

July 30, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

In every meadow you see far or near the lumbering hay-cart with its mountainous load––& the rakers & mowers in white shirts–– The bittern hardly knows where to lay its legs. By the way I have heard no stake driver for some time. If the meadows were untouched I should no doubt see many more of the rare white & the beautiful smaller purple orchis there as I now see a few—along the shaded brooks & meadow’s edge.

July 29, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal

I am interested in an indistinct prospect, a distant view, a mere suggestion often, revealing an almost wholly new world to me. 

I rejoice to get, and am apt to present, a new view.

July 28, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Methinks the season culminated about the middle of this month––That the year was of indefinite promise before––   ––but that after the 1st intense heats we postponed the fulfillment of many of our hopes for this year––& having as it were attained the ridge of the summer––commenced to descend the long slope toward winter––the afternoon & down hill of the year––  Last evening it was much cooler––& I heard a decided fall sound of crickets––

July 27, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We should think sacredly, with devotion. That is one thing, at least, we may do magnanimously. May not every man have some private affair which he can conduct greatly, unhurriedly?

July 26, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

By intimacy with nature I find myself withdrawn from man. My interest in the sun and the moon, in the morning and the evening, compels me to solitude.

July 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

This morning is all the more glorious for a white fog, which, though not universal, is still very extensive over all lowlands, some fifty feet high or more, though there was none at ten last night. There are white cobwebs on the grass. The battalions of the fog are continually on the move.

July 23, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

But this habit of close observation— In Humboldt-Darwin & others. Is it to be kept up long—this science— Do not tread on the heels of your experience.  Be impressed without making a minute of it. Poetry puts an interval between the impression & the expression—waits till the seed germinates naturally.

July 21, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Nature is beautiful only as a place where a life is to be lived.  It is not beautiful to him who has not resolved on a beautiful life.

July 20, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:


The gentle susurrus from the leaves of the trees on shore is very enlivening, as if Nature were freshening, awakening to some enterprise. There is but little wind, but its sound, incessantly stirring the leaves at a little distance along the shore, heard not seen, is very inspiriting. It is like an everlasting dawn or awakening of nature to some great purpose.