April 10, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

….maples and birches in front–with pines in the rear—making a low wild shore…The young trees & bushes now making apparent islands on the meadows are there nearly in this proportion I should think i.e. in deep water— Young maples—willows—button bushes—red osier…

April 9, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Watching the ripples fall and dart across the surface of low-lying and small woodland lakes is one of the amusements of these windy March and April days.

April 8, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The epigaea is not quite out.  The earliest peculiarly woodland herbaceous flowers are epigaea, thalictrum, and (by the first of May) Viola pedata.  These grow quite in the woods amid dry leaves, nor do they depend so much on water as the very earliest flowers. I am perhaps more surprised by the growth of the Viola pedata leaves by the side of paths amid the shrub oaks, and half covered with oak leaves, than by any other growth, the situation is so dry and the surrounding bushes so apparently lifeless.

April 7, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

If you make the least correct observation of nature this year, you will have occasion to repeat it with illustrations the next, and the season and life itself is prolonged.

April 6, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The flower buds of the red maple have very red inner scales now being more & more exposed—which color the tree tops a great distance off.

April 5, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

When I stand more out of the wind, under the shelter of the hill beyond Clamshell, where there is not wind enough to make a noise on my person, I hear, or think that I hear, a very faint distant ring of toads, which, though I walk and walk all the afternoon, I never come nearer to. It is hard to tell if it is not a ringing in my ears; yet I think it is a solitary and distant toad called to life by some warm and sheltered pool or hill, its note having, as it were, a chemical affinity with the air of the spring. It merely gives a slightly more ringing or sonorous sound to the general rustling of inanimate nature. A sound more ringing and articulate my ear detects, under and below the noise of the rippling wind. Thus gradually and moderately the year begins. It creeps into the ears so gradually that most do not observe it, and so our ears are gradually accustomed to the sound, and perchance we do not perceive it when at length it has become very much louder and more general.

April 3, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

When the sun shines unobstructedly, the landscape is full of light, for it is reflected from the withered fawn coloured grass—as it cannot be from the green grass of summer.

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

April 2, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

To the river-side and Merrick’s pasture. The sun is up. The water in the meadows is perfectly smooth and placid, reflecting the hills and clouds and trees. The air is full of the notes of birds, song-sparrows, redwings, robins (singing a strain) bluebirds, and I hear also a lark, as if all the earth had burst forth into song. The influence of this April light has reached them, for they live out-of-doors all the night, and there is no danger they will oversleep themselves such a morning.  A few weeks ago, before the birds had come, there came to my mind in the night the twittering sound of birds in the early dawn of a spring morning––a semi-prophecy of it––and last night I attended mentally, as if I heard the spray-like dreaming sound of the mid-summer frog, and realized how glorious and full of revelations it was. The clouds are white, watery, not such as we had in the winter. I see in this fresh morning the shells left by the muskrats along the shore, and their galleries leading into the meadow, and the bright red cranberries washed up along the the shore in the old water-mark. Suddenly there is a blur on the placid surface of the waters, a rippling mistiness produced, as it were, by a slight morning breeze, and I should be sorry to show it to a stranger now. So is it with our minds.

April 1, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

With this flower, so much more flowerlike or noticeable than any yet—

begins a new era in the flower season.

[Photo: March 31, 2021]

March 31, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It would be worth the while to tell why a swamp pleases us, what kinds please us, also what weather, etc., etc., – analyze our impressions. Why the moaning of the storm gives me pleasure. Methinks it is because it puts to rout the trivialness of our fair-weather life and gives it at least a tragic interest. The sound has the effect of a pleasing challenge, to call forth our energy to resist the invaders of our life’s territory. It is musical and thrilling, as the sound of an enemy’s bugle. Our spirits revive like lichens in the storm.

There is something worth living for when we are resisted, threatened. As at the last day we might be thrilled with the prospect of the grandeur of our destiny, so in these first days our destiny appears grander. What would the days, what would our life, be worth, if some nights were not dark as pitch, – of darkness tangible or that you can cut with a knife? How else could the light in the mind shine? How should we be conscious of the light of reason? If it were not for physical cold, how should we have discovered the warmth of the affections? I sometimes feel that I need to sit in a far-away cave through a three weeks’ storm, cold and wet, to give a tone to my system. The spring has its windy March to usher it in, with many soaking rains reaching into April. Methinks I would share every creature’s suffering for the sake of its experience and joy. 

March 30, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Pray, what things interest me at present? A long, soaking rain, the drops trickling down the stubble, while I lay drenched on a last year’s bed of wild oats, by the side of some bare hill, ruminating. These things are of moment. To watch this crystal globe just sent from heaven to associate with me. While these clouds and this sombre drizzling weather shut all in, we two draw nearer and know one another. The gathering in of the clouds with the last rush and dying breath of the wind, and then the regular dripping of twigs and leaves the country o’er, the impression of inward comfort and sociableness, the drenched stubble and trees that drop beads on you as you pass, their dim outline seen through the rain on all sides drooping in sympathy with yourself.

These are my undisputed territory. This is Nature’s English comfort. The birds draw closer and are more familiar under the thick foliage, composing new strains on their roosts against the sunshine.

March 28, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

From this hilltop I overlook, again bare of snow, putting on a warm, hazy spring face, this seemingly concave circle of earth, in the midst of which I was born and dwell, which in the northwest and southeast has a more distant blue rim to it, as it were of more costly manufacture. On ascending the hill next his home, every man finds that he dwells in a shallow concavity whose sheltering walls are the convex surface of the earth, beyond which he cannot see. I see those familiar features, that large type, with which all my life is associated, unchanged.

March 27, 1842

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The eye must be firmly anchored to this earth which beholds birches and pines waving in the breeze in a certain light—a serene rippling light.

March 26, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The brown season extends from about the 6th of March ordinarily into April….Tried by various tests, this season fluctuates more or less. 

March 25, 1842

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We talk much about education, and yet none will assume the office of an educator. I never gave anyone the whole advantage of myself. I never afforded him the culture of my love. How can I talk of charity, who at last withhold the kindness which alone makes charity desirable? The poor want nothing less than me myself, and I shirk charity by giving rags and meat.

March 23, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The cat-tail down puffs and swells in your hand like a mist, or the conjurer’s trick of filling a hat with feathers, for when you have rubbed off a but a thimbleful, and can close and conceal the wound completely, the expanded down fills your hand to overflowing. Apparently there is a spring to the fine elastic threads which compose the down, which, after having been so long closely packed, on being the least relieved at the base, spring open apace into the form of parachutes to convey the seed afar. Where birds or the winds or ice have assaulted them, this has spread like an eruption. Again, when I rub off the down of its spike with my thumb, I am surprised at the sensation of warmth it imparts to my hand, as it flushes over it magically, at the same time revealing a faint purplish-crimson tinge at the base of the down, as it rolls off and expands. It is a very pleasing experiment to try.