June 30, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Generally speaking, the fields are not imbrowned yet, but the freshness of the year is preserved. As I stand on the side of Fair Haven Hill, the verdure generally appears at its height, the air clear, and the water sparkling after the rain of yesterday. It is a world of glossy leaves and grassy fields and meads.


June 29, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

How different is day from day! Yesterday the air was filled with a thick, fog-like haze, so that the sun did not once shine with ardor, and everything was so tempered under this thin veil that it was a luxury merely to be out doors. You were the less out for it. The shadows of the apple trees even early in the afternoon were remarkably distinct. The landscape wore a classic smoothness. Every object was as in a picture with a glass over it. I saw some hills on this side the river looking from Conantum, on which the grass being of a yellow tinge, though the sun did not shine out on them, they had the appearance of being shone upon peculiarly. It was merely an unusual yellow tint of the grass. The mere surface of the water was an object for the eye to linger on.


I thought that one peculiarity of my “Week” was its hypaethral character, to use an epithet applied to those Egyptian temples which are open to the heavens above, under the ether. I thought that it had little of the atmosphere of the house about it, but might have been written wholly, as in fact it was to a great extent, out of doors. It was only at a late period in writing it, as it happened, that I used any phrases implying that I lived in a house or led a domestic life. I trust it does not smell so much of the study and library, even of the poet’s attic, as of the fields and woods, that it is a hypaethral or unroofed book, lying open under the ether, and permeated by it, open to all weathers, not easy to be kept on a shelf.


June 27, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:


I picked a handful or two of blueberries. These and huckleberries deserve to be celebrated, such simple, wholesome, universal fruits, food for the gods and for aboriginal men. They are so abundant that they concern our race much….


I cannot imagine any country without this kind of berry.

June 26, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The Nymphaea odorata, sweet water lily, pond lily, in bloom. A superb flower, our lotus, queen of the waters.


Now is the solstice in still waters. How sweet, innocent, wholesome its fragrance, how pure its white petals, though its root is in the mud.

June 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Methinks roses oftenest display their bright colors which invariably attract all eyes and betray them, against a dark ground, as the dark green or the shady recesses of other bushes and copes, where they show to best advantage. Their enemies do not spare the open flower for an hour. Hence if for no other reason, their buds are most beautiful. Their promise of perfect and dazzling beauty, when their buds are just beginning to expand, beauty which they can hardly contain, as in most youths, commonly surpasses the fulfillment of their expanded flowers. The color shows fairest and brightest in the bud. The expanded flower has no higher or deeper tint than the swelling bud exposed. This raised a dangerous expectation. The season when wild roses are in bloom should have some preeminence, I think.

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June 24, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The drifting, white downy clouds are to the landsman what sails on the seas are to him who dwells by the shore, objects of a large, diffusive interest….They are the flitting sails in the ocean whose bounds no man has visited. They are like all great themes, always at hand to be considered, or they float over us unregarded. Far away they float in the serene sky, the most inoffensive of objects, or near and low they smite us with the lightnings and deafen us with their thunder….


What could a man learn by watching the clouds? These objects which go over our head unobserved are vast and indefinite….They are among the most glorious objects in Nature. A sky without clouds is a meadow without flowers, a sea with sails.

June 22, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:


The birch is the surveyor’s tree– It makes the best stakes to look at through the sights of a compass except when there is snow on the ground. Their white bark was not made in vain. In surveying woodlots I have frequent occasion to say this is what they were made for….

June 21, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

 Nature has looked uncommonly bare & dry to me for a day or two. With our senses applied to the surrounding world we are reading our own physical & corresponding moral revolutions. Nature was so shallow all at once I did not know what had attracted me all my life. I was therefore encouraged when going through a field this evening, I was unexpectedly struck with the beauty of an apple tree –– the perception of beauty is a moral test….


I see the tephrosia out through the dusk––a handsome flower. What rich crops this dry hill side has yielded. First I saw the v. pedata here––& then the Lupines & the Snap-Dragon covered it––& now the Lupines are done & their pods are left––the tephrosia has taken their place. This small dry hill side is thus a natural garden–– I omit the flowers which grow here & name only those which to some extent cover it or possess it. No eighth of an acre in a cultivated garden could be better clothed or with a more pleasing variety from month to month––& while one flower is in bloom you little suspect that which is to succeed & perchance eclipse it. It is a warmly placed dry hill side beneath a wall––very thinly clad with grass. Such spots there are in nature-natural flower gardens. –– Of this succession I hardly know which to admire the most. It would be pleasant to write the history of one hill side for one year. First and last you have the colors of the rain-bow & more––& the various fragrances which it has not. Blackberries––roses––& dogs bane also are now in bloom here–– I hear neither toads not bull frogs at present––they want a warmer night. I hear the sound of distant thunder though no cloud is obvious. muttering like the roar of artillery. This is a phenomena of this season––


June 18, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Moon not quite full– Going across Depot Field – The western sky is now a crescent of saffron inclining to salmon–a little dunnish perhaps. The grass is wet with dew–the evening star has come out but no other– There is no wind– I see a night hawk in the twilight flitting near the ground– I hear the hum of a beetle going by– The greenish fires of lightning bugs are already seen on the meadow– I pass through Hubbardston along the side of a field of oats–which wet one leg. I perceive the smell of a burning far off by the river, which I saw smoking 2 days ago. The moon is laboring in a mackerel cloud and my hopes are with her. Why do I hear no bull frogs yet– Do they ever trump as early and as universally as on that their first evening? I hear the whipper wills on different sides – White flowers alone show much at night–white clover–& white-weed It is commonly still at night as now– The day has gone by with its wind like the wind of a cannon ball–and now far in the west it blows–by that dun colored sky you may track it– There is no motion nor sound in the woods (Hubbards Grove) along which I am walking. The trees stand like great screens against the sky.


The distant village sounds, are the barking of dogs, that animal with which man has allied himself, and the rattling of wagons– For the farmers have gone into town shopping this Saturday night– The dog is the tamed wolf–as the villager is the tamed savage But here the crickets are heard in the grass chirping from everlasting to everlasting, a mosquito sings near my ear–and the humming of a dawbug drowns all the noise of the village. So roomy is the universe the moon comes out of the mackerel cloud and the traveller rejoices. How can a man write the same thoughts by the light of the moon–resting his book on a rail by the side of a remote potato field–that he does by the light of the sun, on his study table. The light is but a luminousness– My pencil seems to move through a creamy mystic medium – The moonlight is rich & somewhat opaque like cream but The day light is thin & blue like skimmed milk– I am less conscious than in the presence of the sun–my instincts have more influence…


June 17, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

There are some fine large clusters of lambkill close to the shore of Walden under the Peak, fronting the south. They are early, too, and large apparently, both on account of the warmth and the vicinity of the water.


These flowers are in perfect cylinders, sometimes six inches long by two wide, and three such raying out or upward from one centre, that is, three branches clustered together. Examined close by, I think this handsomer than the mountain laurel. the color is richer, but it does not show so well at a little distance, and the corymbs are somewhat concealed by the green shoot and leaves rising above them, and also by the dry remains of last year’s flowers.


June 16, 1854

 in Thoreau’s Journal:


The Rosa lucida, with its broader and duller leaves, but larger and perhaps deeper-colored and more purple petals, perhaps yet higher scented, and its great yellow centre of stamens.

June 15, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

By half past fives robins more than before–crows of course & jays. Dogsbane is just ready to open. Swallows. It is pleasant walking through the June grass (in Pleasant meadow) so thin & offering but little obstruction. The night hawk squeaks & booms. The veratrum viride top is now a handsome green cluster 2 feet by 10/12. Here also at well meadow head I see the fringed purple orchis–unexpectedly beautiful–though a pale lilac purple–a large spike of purple flowers.


I find two–one answers to the O. fimbriata of Big & Psycodes of Gray–the other the grandiflora of Big– & fimbriata of Gray. Big. thinks it the most beautiful of all the orchises.


I am not prepared to say it is the most beautiful wild flower I have found this year– Why does it grow there only–far in a swamp remote from public view? It is somewhat fragrant reminding me of the ladies slipper. Is it not significant that some rare & delicate beautiful flowers should be found only in unfrequented wild swamps.–


There is the mould in which the orchis grows. Yet I am not sure but this is a fault in the flower–


It is not quite perfect in all its parts– a beautiful flower must be simple–not spiked.– It must have a fair stem & leaves– This stem is rather naked & the leaves are for shade & moisture. It is fairest seen rising from amid brakes & hellebore, its lower part or rather naked stem concealed.

P7140011.jpgWhere the most beautiful wild flowers grow–there Man’s spirit is fed–& poets grow– It cannot be high-colored growing in the shade. Nature has taken no pains to exhibit–and few that bloom are ever seen by mortal eyes.


The most striking & handsome large wild flower of the year thus far the I have seen.

June 14, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Full moon last night….

An evening for poets to describe….All nature is in an expectant attitude..

Where my path crosses the brook in the meadow there is a singularly sweet scent in the heavy air where the brakes grow, the fragrance of the earth, as if the dew were a distillation of the fragrant essences of Nature.

As I ascended the hill, I found myself in a cool, fragrant, dewy, up-country, mountain, morning air. The moon was now seen rising over Fair Haven, and at the same time reflected in the river, pale and white, like a silvery cloud barred with a cloud…


How moderate, deliberate is Nature, how gradually the shades of night gather and deepen, giving man ample leisure to bid farewell to day, conclude his day’s affairs, and prepare for slumber…

Not much before ten o’clock does the moon-light night begin, when man is asleep and day fairly forgotten. Then is the beauty of moonlight seen upon lonely pastures where cattle are silently feeding. Then let me walk in a diversified country of hill and dale, with heavy woods on one side, and copses and scattered trees enough to give me shadows.

June 12, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:


Visited the great orchis which I am waiting to have open completely. It is emphatically a flower; its great spike six inches by two, of delicate, pale purple flowers which begin to expand at bottom, rises above and contrasts with the green leaves of hellebore, skunk-cabbage, and ferns (by which its own leaves are concealed), in the cool shade of an alder swamp. It is the more interesting for its variety and secluded situations in which it grows, owing to which it is seldom seen, not thrusting itself upon the observation of men. It is a pale purple, as if from growing in the shade. It is not remarkable in its stalk and leaves, which, indeed, are commonly concealed by other plants.

June 11, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

No one to my knowledge, has observed the minute differences in the seasons. Hardly two nights are alike. The rocks do not feel warm to-night, for the air is warmest; nor does the sand particularly. A book of the seasons, each page of which should be written out-of-doors, or in its own locality wherever it may be.

[Later the same June, Thoreau used his book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers to explain what he meant by a book written “out-of-doors:”]

June 29, 1851

I thought that one peculiarity of my “Week” was its hypaethral  character, to use an epithet applied to those Egyptian temples which are open to the heavens above, under the ether.  I thought that it had little of the atmosphere of the house about it, but might have been written wholly, as in fact it was to a great extent out of doors.  I was only at a late period in writing it, as it happened that I used any phrases implying that I lived in a house or led a domestic life.  I trust it does not smell so much of the study and library, even of the poet’s attic, as of the fields and woods, that it is a hypaethral or unroofed book, lying open under the ether, and permeated by it, open to all weathers, not easy to be kept on a shelf.