November 11, 1850

 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.

November 8, 1850

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

To the swamp in front of the C. Miles house….There is quite a ravine by which the water of this swamp flows out eastward, and at the bottom of it many prinos berries are conspicuous, now apparently in their prime. They are appointed to be an ornament of this bare season between leaves and snow….



This is a peculiar season, peculiar for its stillness. The crickets have ceased their song. The few birds are well-nigh silent. The tinted and gay leaves are now sere and dead, and the woods wear a sombre aspect.

November 7, 1858

 in Thoreau’s Journal:
….Now we are left to the hemlocks and pines with their silvery light, to the bare trees and withered grass. The very rocks and stones in the rocky road look white in the clear November light, especially after the rain. We are left to the chickadee’s familiar notes, and the jay for trumpeter. What struck me was a certain emptiness beyond, between the hemlocks and the hill, in the cool washed air, as if I appreciated the absence of insects from it. It suggested, agreeably to me, a mere space in which to walk briskly. The fields are, as it were, vacated. The very earth is like a house shut up for the winter, and I go knocking about it in vain. But just then I heard a chickadee in a hemlock, and was inexpressibly cheered to find that an old acquaintance was yet stirring about the premises, and was, I was assured, to be there all winter. All that is evergreen in me revived at once.

November 6, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Climbed the wooded hill by Holden’s spruce swamp, and got a novel view of the river and Fair Haven Bay through the almost leafless woods. How much handsomer a river or lake such as ours seen thus through a foreground of scattered or else partially leafless trees, through at a considerable distance this side of it, especially if the water is open, without a wooded shore or isles. It is the most perfect and beautiful of frames, which yet the sketcher is commonly carefully to brush aside. I mean a pretty thick foreground, a view of the distant water through the near forest, through a thousand little vistas, as we are rushing towards the former, that intimate mingling of wood and water which excites an expectation the the near and open view rarely realizes. We prefer that some part be concealed which our imagination may navigate.


November 5, 1857

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Sometimes I would rather get a transient glimpse or side view of a thing than stand fronting it, as with these polypodies. The object I caught a glimpse of as I went by, haunts my thought a long time, is infinitely suggestive, and I do not care to front it and scrutinize it, for I know that the thing that really concerns me is not there, but in my relation to that. That is a mere reflecting surface. It is not the polypody in my pitcher or herbarium, or which I may possibly persuade to grow on a bank in my yard, or which is described in the botanies, that interests me, but the one I pass by in my walks a little distance off, when in the right mood.


Photo, November 4, 2017

Its influence is sporadic, wafted through the air to me. Do you imagine its fruit to stick to the back of the leaf all winter? At this season polypody is in the air. It is worth the while to walk in swamps now, to bathe your eyes in greenness.

November 3, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:


I make it my business to extract from Nature whatever nutriment she can furnish me, though at the risk of endless iteration. I milk the sky and the earth…Our woods and fields are the perfection of parks and groves, and gardens and grottoes, and arbors, and paths and parterres, and vistas and landscapes. They are the natural consequence of what art and refinement we as a people have. They are the common which each village possesses, the true paradise, in comparison with which all elaborately and willfully wealth-constructed parks and gardens are paltry imitations.

November 2, 1857

 in Thoreau’s Journal:


The mere greenness, which was not remarkable in the summer, is positively interesting now. My thoughts are with the polypody a long time after my body has passed….The bare outline of the polypody thrills me strangely.

November 1, 1858

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Now you easily can detect where larches grow….They are far more distinct than at any other season….Unlike the pines there is no green left to alternate with their yellow, but they are a uniform yellow….


These trees now cannot easily be mistaken for any other, because they are the only conspicuously yellow trees now left in the woods….