November 30, 1851

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Where is my home? It is indistinct as an old cellar-hole now, a faint indentation merely in a farmer’s field, which he has plowed into, rounding off its edges, years ago, and I sit by the old site on the stump of an oak which once grew there.

Such is nature where we have lived.


Thick birch groves stand here and there,

dark brown now, with white lines here and there.

November 29, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It has been cloudy and milder this afternoon, but now I begin to see in the western horizon a clear crescent of yellowish sky, and suddenly a glorious yellow sunlight falls on all the eastern landscape, russet fields and hillsides, evergreens and rustling oaks, and single leafless trees. In addition to the clearness of the air at this season, the light is all from one side and none being absorbed or dissipated in the heavens, but it being reflected both from the russet earth and the clouds, it is intensely bright. All the limbs of a maple seen far eastward rising over a hill are wonderfully distinct and lit. I think we have some such sunsets as this, and peculiar to the season, every year. I should call it the russet afterglow of the year. It may not be warm, but must be clear and comparatively calm.


November 28, 1858

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

A gray, overcast, still day, and more small birds, tree sparrows and chickadees, than usual about the house. There have been a very few fine snowflakes falling for many hours, and now, by 2 P.M., a regular snowstorm has commenced, the fine flakes falling steadily, and rapidly whitening all the landscape. In half an hour the russet landscape is painted white, even to the horizon.

Do we know of any other so silent and sudden a change?


I cannot now walk without leaving a track behind me.

That is one peculiarity of winter walking.

November 26, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:


The chickadee is the bird of the wood, the most unfailing. When in a windy or in any day you have penetrated some thick wood like this, you are pretty sure to hear its cheery note. At this season, it is almost its sole inhabitant.

November 25, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:


This month taxes a walker’s resources more than any other.  For my part, I should sooner think of going into quarters in November than in winter.  If you do feel any fire at the season out of doors, you may depend upon it, it is your own.

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 18, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Much cold slate-colored cloud, bare twigs seen gleaming toward the light like gossamer, pure green off pines where old leaves have fallen, reddish or yellowish brown oak leaves rustling on the hillsides, very pale brown, bleaching almost hoary fine grass or hay in the fields, akin to the frost which has killed it, and flakes of clear yellow sunlight falling on it here and there, —such is November. The fine grass killed by the frost, and bleached till it is almost silvery, has clothed the fields for a long time.

Now, as in the spring, we rejoice in sheltered and sunny places. Some corn is left out still.


The sunlight is a peculiarly thin and clear yellow, falling on the pale-brown bleaching herbage of the fields at this season.

In one light, these are old and worn-out fields that I ramble over, and men have gone to law about them long before I was born, but I trust that I ramble over them in a new fashion and redeem them.

November 17, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I notice that many plants about this season of the year or earlier, after they have died down at top, put forth fresh and conspicuous radical leaves against another spring; so some human beings in the November of their days, exhibit some fresh radical greenness, which, through the frosts may soon nip it, indicates and confirms their essential greenness. When their summer leaves have faded and fallen, they put forth fresh radical leaves which sustain the life in their root still, against a new spring. The dry fields have, for a long time, been spotted with the small radical leaves of the fragrant life-everlasting, not to mention the large primrose, John’s-wort, etc.


Almost every plant, although it may show no greenness above the ground, if you dig about it, will be found to have fresh shoots already pointing upward, and ready to burst forth in the spring.

November 16, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

There seems to be in the fall a sort of attempt at spring, a rejuvenescence, as if the winter were not expected by a part of nature. Violets, dandelions, and some other flowers blossom again, and mulleins and innumerable other plants begin again to spring, and are only checked by the increasing cold. There is a slight uncertainty whether there will be any winter this year.


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, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me, it never jests, it is cheerfully, musically earnest. I lie and rely on the earth….

My journal should be record of my love.

November 14, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is very cold and windy; thermometer 26….It is all at once perfect winter. I walk on frozen ground two thirds covered with a sugaring of dry snow, and this strong and cutting northwest wind makes the oak leaves rustle dryly enough to set your heart on edge. A great many have fallen, even since the snow last evening…

Now all that moves migrates, or has migrated. Ducks are gone by. The citizen has sought the town. Probably the witch-hazel and many other flowers lingered till the 11th, when it was colder. The last leaves and flowers (?) may be said to fall about the middle of November.


Snow and cold drive the doves to your door, and so your thoughts make new alliances.

November 14, 2017

November 13, 1851

 in Thoreau’s Journal:


True, the freezing ground is being prepared for immeasurable snows, but there are brave thoughts within you that shall remain to rustle the winter through like white oak leaves upon your boughs, or like scrub oaks that remind the traveller of a fire upon the hillsides; or evergreen thoughts, cold even in mid-summer, by their nature shall contrast the more fairly with the snow.

November 13, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is wonderful what gradation and harmony there is in nature. The light reflected from bare twigs at this season, that is, since they began to be bare, in the latter part of October, is not unlike that from gossamer, and like that which will erelong be reflected from the ice that will incrust them. So the bleached herbage of the fields is like frost, and the frost like snow, and one prepares for the other.


November 12, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:


It is much the coldest day yet, and the ground is a little frozen and resounds under my tread. All people move the brisker for the cold, yet are braced and a little elated by it.