November 30, 1851

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Where is my home?

It is indistinct as a old cellar hole now a faint indentation merely in a farmer’s field—which he has ploughed into & rounded off its edges—years ago and I sit by the old site on the stump of an oak which once grew there.


 Such is the nature where we have lived—


Thick birch groves stand here & there dark brown? now with white lines more or less distinct.

November 29, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Again I am struck by the singularly wholesome colors of the withered oak leaves, especially the shrub oak, so thick and firm and unworn, without speck, clear reddish-brown, sometimes paler or yellowish-brown, the whitish under the sides contrasting with the upper in a very cheerful manner, as if the tree or shrub rejoiced at the advent of winter.


It exhibits the fashionable colors of the winter on the two sides of its leaves. It sets the fashions; colors good for bare ground or for snow, grateful to the eyes of rabbits and partridges. This is the extent of its gaudiness, red-brown and misty-white, and yet it is gay. The colors of the brightest flowers are not more agreeable to my eye. Then there is the rich dark brown of the black oak, large and somewhat curled leaf on sprouts, with its light, almost yellowish-brown underside. Then the salmonish hue of white-oak leaves, with under sides less distinctly lighter. Many, however, have faded already.

November 28, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I cannot now walk without leaving a track behind me. This is one peculiarity of winter walking. Anybody may follow my trail.


I walk along some swamp side all summer, and thought to myself, I am the only villager that ever comes here. But I go out shortly after the first snow has fallen, and lo, here is the track of a sportsman and his dog in my secluded path, and probably he preceded me in the summer as well. But my hour is not his, and I may never meet him.

November 27, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Now a man will eat his heart if ever—now while the earth is bare barren & cheerless—and we have the coldness of winter without the variety of ices & snow —but me thinks the variety & compensation are in the stars now— How bright they are now by contrast with the dark earth! —The days are short enough now. The sun is already setting before I have reached the ordinary limit of my walk—but the 21st of next month the day will be shorter will by about 25 minutes.

In December there will be less light than in any month in the year.

…..I observe the Lycopodium lucidulum still of a free shining green— Checquer berries and partridge berries are both numerous & obvious now—


November 25, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I feel a little alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit…This afternoon, late and cold as it is, has been a sort of Indian summer Indeed, I think we have summer days from time to time the winter through, and that it is often the snow on the ground which makes the whole difference.


This afternoon the air was indescribably clear and exhilarating, and though the thermometer would have shown it to be cold, I thought there was a finer and purer warmth than in summer, a wholesome, intellectual warmth in which the body was warmed by the mind’s contentment, —the warmth hardly sensuous, but rather the satisfaction of existence.

November 24, 1858

 in Thoreau’s Journal: 

It is a lichen day, with a little moist snow falling.  The great green lungwort lichen shows now on the oaks


(strange that there should be none on the pines close by), and the fresh bright chestnut fruit of other kinds, glistening with moisture, brings life and immortality to light.


November 20, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I was just thinking

it would be fine to get a specimen leaf from each changing tree & shrub & plant in Autumn in sep- & oct- when it had got its brightest characteristic color the intermediate ripeness in its transition from the green to the russet or brown state —outline & copy its color exactly with paint in a book —A book which should be a memorial of October—Be entitled October hues—or Autumnal tints—


I remember especially the beautiful yellow of the P. Grandidentata & the tint of the scarlet maple. What a memento such a book would be—beginning with the earliest reddening of the leaves—woodbine & ivy—&c &c And the lake of red-leaves-down to the latest oaks.

November 19, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

There was also the columbine, its leaves still alive and green; and I was pleased to smell the pennyroyal which I had bruised, though this dried up long ago. Each season is thus drawn out and lingers in certain localities, as the birds and insects know very well.


If you penetrate to some warm recess under a cliff in the woods, you will be astonished at the amount of summer life that still flourishes there.

November 17, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The very sunlight on the pale-brown-bleached fields is an interesting object these cold days. I naturally look toward it as to a wood fire. Not only different objects are presented to our attention at different seasons of the year, but we are in a frame of body and mind to appreciate different objects at different seasons. I see one thing when it is cold and another when it is warm.

We are interested at this season by the manifold ways in which the light is reflected to us. Ascending a little knoll covered with sweet fern, the sun appearing but little above the sweet fern, its light was reflected from a dense mass of the bare, downy twigs of this plant in a surprising manner which would not be believed, if described. In was quite like the sunlight reflected from grass and weeds covered with hoar frost. Yet in an ordinary light, these are but dark or dusky-looking with scarcely a noticeable downiness. But as I saw them, there was a perfect halo of light resting on the knoll. I moved to right or left. A myriad of surfaces are now prepared to reflect the light This is one of the hundred silvery lights of November. The setting sun, too, is reflected from windows more brightly than at any other season. “November lights” would be a theme for me.

Nature is moderate, and loves degrees. Winter is not all white and sere. Some trees are evergreen to cheer us and on the forest floor our eyes do not fall on sere brown leaves along, but some evergreen shrubs are placed there to relieve the eye. Mountain laurel, lamb kill, checkerberry, wintergreen, etc., keep up the semblance of summer still.


November 14, 2012: Reflections in the Bearcamp River, Sandwich, NH

November 16, 1850

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

There is a place whither I should walk today though oftenest I fail to find; when, by accident, I ramble into it, great is my delight. I have stood by my door sometimes half an hour irresolute as to what course I should take…

What shall we do with a man who is afraid of the woods—their solitude & darkness— What salvation is there for him? God is silent & mysterious.

Some of our richest days are those in which no sun shines outwardly, but so much the more a sun shines inwardly. I love nature. I love the landscape…


The sweet scented life everlasting…
The partridge berry leaves checker the ground…
The era of wild apples will soon be over—

My Journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only the things I love. My affection for any aspect of the world. What I love to think of. I have no more distinctness or pointedness in my yearnings than an expanding bud—which does indeed point to to flower & fruit to summer & autumn—but is aware of the warm sun & spring influence only.

Photo: November 14, 2016

November 15, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

After having some business dealings with men—I am occasionally chagrined—& feel as if I had done some wrong—& it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance— I see that such intercourse long continued would make me thoroughly prosaic hard & coarse— But the longest intercourse with Nature though in her rudest moods does not thus harden & make coarse— A hard insensible man whom we liken to a rock—is indeed much harder than a rock—


From hard coarse insensible men with whom I have no sympathy—I go to commune with the rocks whose hearts are comparatively soft—

November 13, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

….cold and dark….the landscape is barren of objects, the trees being leafless… Truly hard times, these! Not a mosquito left, not an insect to hum. Crickets gone into winter quarters. Friends long since gone there, and you left to walk on frozen ground with your hands in your pockets . Ah, but is not this a glorious time for your deep inward fires? ….Nothing but the echo of your steps on the frozen ground, which, it is true, is being prepared for immeasurable snows.


Still there are brave thoughts within you that shall remain to rustle the winter through, like white-oak leaves upon your boughs, or like shrub oaks that remind the traveler of a fire upon the hillsides, or evergreen thoughts, cold even in the midsummer by their nature. These shall contrast the more fairly with the snow….

November 11, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

That delicate, waving, feathery dry grass which I saw yesterday is to be remembered with the autumn.


The dry grasses are not dead for me. A beautiful form has as much life at one season as at another.

Photo:  November 10, 2016