October 31, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a beautiful, warm, and calm Indian-summer afternoon….the water so smooth and glassy….


The coarse withered grass, and the willows and button-bushes with their myriad balls, and whatever else stands on the brink is reflected with wonderful distinctness….


October 30, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

What with the rains & frosts & winds the leaves have fairly fallen now— You may say the fall has ended. Those which still hang on the trees are withered & dry….the autumnal tints are gone….the woods have for the most part acquired their winter aspect— And coarse rustling light colored withered grasses skirt the river & the woodside—


This is November— The landscape prepared for winter without snow—

After October 28, 1849

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Some afternoons when the lower strata of the atmosphere is filled with a haze like mist the hills in the horizon seem from an eminence are visibly divided into distinct ranges


—& it is easy to refer each to its own chain to tops of the chain rising above the mists which fill the vallies.

October 28, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Four months of the green leaf make all our summer, if I reckon from June 1st to October 1st, the growing season, and methinks there are about four months when the ground is white with snow. That would leave two months for spring and two for autumn. October the month of ripe or painted leaves; November the month of withered leaves and bare twigs and limbs.

October 26, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is surprising how any reminiscence of a different season of the year affects us. When I meet with any such in my Journal, it affects me as poetry, and I appreciate that other season and that particular phenomenon more than at the time. The world so seen is all one spring, and full of beauty. You only need to make a faithful record of an average summer day’s experience and summer mood, and read it in the winter, and it will carry you back to more than that summer day alone could show. Only the rarest flower, the purest melody, of the season thus comes down to us.

October 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The autumnal tints grow gradually darker and duller, but not less rich to my eye. And now a hillside near the river exhibits the darkest crispy reds and browns of every hue, all agreeably blended. At the foot, next the meadow, stands a front rank of smoke-like maples, bare of leaves, intermixed with yellow birches. Higher up are red oaks, of various shades of dull red, with yellowish, perhaps black oaks, intermixed, and walnuts now brown, and near the hill-top or rising above the rest, a still yellow oak, and here and there amid the rest or in the foreground on the meadow, dull, ashy, salmon-colored white oaks, large and small, all these contrasting with the clear, liquid sempiternal green of pines. The sheen on the water blinds my eyes. Mint is still green and wonderfully recreating to smell. I had put such things behind me. It is hard to remember lilies now.


October 24, 2016 Photo

October 24, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A northeast storm, though not much rain falls to-day, but a fine driving mizzle. This, as usual, brings the geese, and at 2:30 P.M. I see two flocks go over, faintly honking. A great many must go over today, and also alight in this neighborhood. This weather warns them of the approach of winter, and this wind speeds them on their way.


The brilliant autumnal colors are red and yellow, and the various tints and shades of these. Blue is reserved to be the color of the sky, but yellow and red are colors of the earth-flower. Every fruit on ripening, and just before its fall, acquires a bright tint. So do the leaves; so the sky before the end of the day, and the year near its setting. October is the red sunset sky, November the later twilight. Color stands for all ripeness and success. The noblest feature, the eye, is the fairest-colored, the jewel of the body.

October 23, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

October has been the month of autumnal tints. The first of the month, the tints began to be more general, at which time the frosts began. There were scattered bright tints long before, but not till then did the forest begin to be painted.


By the end of the month, the leaves will either have fallen, or be seared and turned brown by the frosts, for the most part.

October 20, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:


How pleasant to walk over beds of these fresh crisp & rustling fallen leaves…How beautiful they go to their graves—how gently lay themselves down—& turn to mould! Painted of a thousand hues and fit to make the beds of us living.

October 19, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The leaves have fallen so plentifully that they quite conceal the water along the shore—& rustle pleasantly when the wave which the boat creates strikes them—


On Sunday last I could hardly find the Corner spring—& suspected even it had dried up—for it was completely concealed by fresh fallen leaves & when I swept them aside & revealed it it was like striking the earth for a new spring.

October 18, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I distinguish the dark moist layer of weeds deposited last night, on what had dried in the sun. The tall bulrush & wool grass is dry & yellow except a few in deep water.— but the rainbow rush—j. militaris is still green. The autumnal tints though less brilliant & striking are perhaps quite as agreeable—now that the frosts have somewhat dulled & softened. Now that the forest is universally imbrowned they make a more harmonious impression.


Wooded hill sides reflected in the water are particularly agreeable….Chicadees & jays are heard from the shore as in winter. Saw 2 or 3 ducks which fly up before & alight far behind.

October 17, 2016 Photo

October 17, 1858

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

I think the reflections are never purer and more distinct than now at the season of the fall of the leaf, just before the cool twilight has come, when the air has a finer grain. Just as our mental reflections are more distinct at this season of the year, when the evenings grow cool and lengthen and our winter evenings with their brighter fires may be said to begin.


October 16, 2016

October 16, 1857

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Am surprised to find an abundance of witch hazel now at the height of its change. The tallest bushes are bare, though in bloom; but the lowest are full of leaves many of the green, but chiefly clear and handsome yellow of various shades, from a pale lemon in the shade or within the bush, to a darker and warmer yellow without…


A great part of the pine needles have just fallen. See the pale brown carpet of them under this pine; how light it lies up on the grass and that great rock, and the wall, resting thick on its top and its shelves, and on the bushes and underwood. The needles are not yet flat and reddish, but a more delicate pale brown, and lie up light on joggle-sticks, just dropped. The ground is nearly concealed by them.


How beautifully they die, making cheerfully their annual contribution to the soil. They fall to rise again; as if they knew that it was not one annual deposit alone that made this rich mould in which pine-trees grow. They live in the soil whose fertility and bulk they increase, and in the forests that spring from it.

October 15, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

If you stand fronting a hillside covered with a variety of young oaks, the brightest scarlet ones — uniformly deep, dark scarlet— will be the scarlet oaks. The next most uniformly reddish a peculiar dull crimson (or salmon?), are the white oaks.


Then the large-leaved and variously tinted red oaks, scarlet, yellow, and green, and finally the yellowish and half-decayed brown leaves of the black oak.

October 14, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

In warmer autumns, if I remember rightly, [the hickories at Poplar Hill] last several weeks later than this in some localities, one succeeding another with its splendid glow, an evidence of the genialness of the season.


In cool and moist places, in a genial year, some are preserved green after others have changed, and by their change and glow they prolong the season of autumnal tints very agreeably.

October 13, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Many maples have lost all their leaves—and are shrunk all at once to handsome clean grey wisps on the edge of the meadows where crowded together at a distance they are like smoke. This is a sudden and important change— Produced mainly I suppose by the rain of Sunday 10th. The autumnal tints have commonly already lost their brightness— It lasts but a day or two Corn spurrey & spotted Polygonum & Polygala

Fair Haven Pond methinks never looks so handsome as at this season. It is a sufficiently clear & warm rather Ind. Summer day—and they are gathering the apples in the orchard— The warmth is more required & we welcome & appreciate it all. The shrub oak plain is now a deep red—with grayish withered apparently white oak leaves intermixed — The chicadees take heart too & sing above these warm rocks. Birches hickories—aspens &c in the distance are like innumerable small flames on the hill sides about the Pond.


The Pond is now most beautifully framed with the autumn tinted woods & hills— The water or lake from however distant a point seen is always the center of the landscape. Fair Haven lies more open & can be seen from more distant points than any of our ponds. The air is singularly fine-grained—the sward looks short & firm. The mts are more distant from the rest of the earth & slightly impurpled. Seeming to lie up more. How peaceful nature— There is no disturbing sound, but far amid the Western hills, there rises a pure white smoke in constant volumes.