August 28, 1851

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

An old poet comes at last to watch his moods as narrowly as a cat does a mouse….I omit the unusual—the hurricanes & earthquakes & describe the common. This has the greatest charm—and is the true theme of poetry. You may have the extraordinary, if you will let me have the ordinary.


August 27, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Would it not be well to describe some of those rough—all day walks across lots….

—-Picking our way over quaking meadows & swamps —& occassionally slipping into the muddy batter midleg deep—-jumping or fording ditches & brooks—forcing our way through dense blueberry swamps—-where there is water beneath & bushes above—then brushing through extensive birch forests all covered with green lice—which cover our clothes & face—then under larger wood relieved, more open beneath—-steering for some more conspicuous trunk Now along a rocky hill side where the sweet fern grows for a mile—then over a recent cutting—finding our uncertain footing on the cracking tops & trimmings of trees left by the choppers— Now taking a step or 2 of smooth walking across a high way— Now through a dense pine wood descending—into a rank dry swamp where the cinnamon fern rises above your head—with isles of poison dog wood— Now up a scraggy hill—covered with shrub oak—stooping & winding ones way—for half a mile—tearing ones clothes in many places & putting out ones eyes—& find at last that it has no bare brow but another slope of the same character— Now through a corn field diagonally with the rows—now coming upon the hidden melon patch seeing the back-side of familiar hills & not knowing them. The nearest house to home which you do not know—seeming further off—than the farthest which you do know— In the spring defiled with the froth on various bushes, &c &c &c— Now reaching on higher land some open—pigeon place—a breathing place for us.


August 26, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:


Rudbeckia—the small one—still fresh—

August 26, 1858

Each humblest plant, or weed, as we call it, stands there to express some thought or mood of ours, and yet how long it stands in vain! I have walked these Great Fields so many Augusts and never yet distinctly recognized the purple companions that I have there. I have brushed against them and trampled them down, forsooth, and now at last they have, as it were, risen up and blessed me. Beauty and true wealth are always cheap and despised. Heaven, or paradise, might be defined as the place which men avoid.

August 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

At length before sun down it begins to rain—you can hardly say when it began…dripping & pattering…is quite cheering. It is long since I heard it. One of those serious & normal storms—Not a shower which you can see through— Something regular—a fall (?) rain—coincident with a different mood or season of the mind not a transient cloud that drops rain.


Methinks the truly weather-wise will know themselves—& find the signs of rain in their own moods—the aspect of their own skies or thoughts & questions about the weather without thinking. Does a mind in sympathy with nature need a hygrometer?



August 24, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Of cornels have not seen the dwarf nor the dog wood berries. The alternate leaved with red cymes & round dull (?) blue berries appeared first—then the red osier began to turn bright glass beady amethystine (?) blue mixed with white and is still for the most part green—then the white berried—







The year is but a succession of days, and I see that I could assign some office to each day which, summed up, would be the history of the year. Everything is done in season, and there is no time to spare. The bird gets its brood hatched in season and is off.

August 23, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

What a list of bright colored—sometimes venomous looking berries spot the swamps & copses amid changing leaves! For colors they will surpass the flowers methinks—

There is something rare—precious—& gem like about them. Now is their time & I must attend to them—

August 22, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The elder bushes are weighed down with fruit partially turned, and are still in bloom at the extremities of their twigs….


Perhaps fruits are colored like the trillium berry & the scarlet thorn to attract birds to them.


August 18, 1854 and 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

August 18, 1854

….my collection of leaves….

Photos: August 17, 2016

August 18, 1852

Elizabeth Hoar shows me the following plants which she brought from the Wht Mts the 16th ult. Chiogenes hispidula creeping snow-berry also called Gaultheria & also vaccinium hispidula–in fruit. –– with a partridge berry scent & taste.


August 16, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

These are locust days. I hear them on the elms in the street—but cannot tell where they are—loud is their song—drowning many others—but men appear not to distinguish it—though it pervade their ears as the dust their eyes.


The river was exceedingly fair this afternoon—and there are few handsomer reaches than that by the leaning oak—the deep place, where the willows make a perfect shore…

I must look for the Rudbeckia which Bradford says he found yesterday behind Joe Clarks.

August 15, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Some birds after they have ceased to sing by day continue to sing faintly in morning now as in spring — I hear now a warbling vireo—a robin half strain—a golden-robin whistles— —blue birds warble—Pig[eon] woodpecker not to mention the tapping of a woodpecker— the notes of birds which are heard through the day….


August 12, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

See the blue-herons opposite Fair H. hill as if they had bred there.


This & the last day or 2 very hot….There is very little air over the water & when I dip my head in it for coolness—I do not feel any coolness. The Eupatorium sessilifolium has been out a day or two on the side hill grove at Bittern Cliff….Chelone Glabra also.


Chelone glabra (white turtlehead) August 11, 2016