May 31, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Some incidents in my life have seemed far more allegorical than actual; they were so significant that they plainly served no other use.  That is, I have been more impressed by their allegorical significance and fitness; they have been like myths or passages in a myth, rather than mere incidents or history which have to wait to become significant.  Quite in harmony with my subjective philosophy. This, for instance: that, when I thought I knew the flowers so well, the beautiful purple azalea or pinxter-flower should be shown me by the hunter who found it. Such facts are lifted quite above the level of the actual. They are all just such events as my imagination prepares me for, no matter how incredible. Perfectly in keeping with my life and characteristic.


Even and anon something will occur which my philosophy has not dreamed of. The limits of the actual are set some thoughts further off. That which has seemed a rigid wall of vast thickness unexpectedly proves a thin and undulating drapery. The boundaries of the actual are no more fixed and rigid than the elasticity of our imaginations.  The fact that a rare and beautiful flower which we never saw, perhaps never heard [of], for which therefore there was no place in our thoughts, may sat length be found in our immediate neighborhood, is very suggestive.

May 29, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

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That exceedingly neat and interesting little flower blue-eyed grass now claims our attention.





May 27, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

At Corner Spring. A wet day. The veery sings nevertheless.


The road is white with the apple blossoms fallen off as with snowflakes. The dog wood is coming out. Ladies slippers out 

May 24, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The fringed polygala P. Pauciflora (flowering winter green.) 


What bird was that whose wild note I heard at Goose pond tonight?—a loon or a bittern?  1st Night hawks squeak & boom. Grasshoppers appear.

May 23

In Thoreau’s Journal:

May 23, 1852:  The buttercup season has arrived here.


May 23, 1853:  At first we had the lighter, paler spring yellows of willows (cowslips even, for do they not grow a little darker afterward?), dandelion, cinquefoil, then the darker (methinks it is a little darker than the cowslip) and deeper yellow of the buttercup; and then this broad distinction between the buttercup and the krigia and senecio, as the seasons revolve toward July.  Every new flower that opens, no doubt, expresses a new mood of the human mind.

May 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The fresh foliage of the woods in May, when the leaves are about as big as a mouse’s ear, putting out like taller grasses and herbs. 

In all my rambles I have seen no landscape which can make me forget Fair Haven. I still sit on its Cliff in a new spring day, and look over the awakening woods and the river, and hear the new birds sing, with the same delight as ever.  It is as sweet a mystery to me as ever, what this world is.  Fair Haven Lake in the south, with its pine-covered island and its meadows, the hickories putting out fresh young yellowish leaves, and the oaks light-grayish ones, while the oven-bird thrums his sawyer-like strain, and the chewink rustles through the dry leaves or repeats his jingle on the tree-top, and the wood thrush, the genius of the wood, whistles for the first time his clear and thrilling strain, ––it sounds as it did the first I heard it. The sight of these budding woods intoxicates me….


The strong-colored pine, the grass of trees, in the midst of which other trees are but as weeds or flowers,  —a little exotic.

May 20, 1852

 in Thoreau’s Journal: 

Now is the season of the leafing of the trees and of planting. The fields are white with houstonias, as they will soon be yellow with buttercups.  Perchance the beginning of summer may be dated from the fully formed leaves, when dense shade begins…Some apple trees in blossom—


Most are just ready to burst forth—the leaves being half-formed.

May 19, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:  


This is the season when the meadow grass is seen waving in the wind at the same time that the shadows of clouds are passing over it.

May 17, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Do I smell the young birch leaves at a distance? Most trees are beautiful when leafing out but especially the birch. After a storm at this season the sun comes out & lights up the tender expanding leaves & all Nature is full of light & fragrance—& the birds sing without ceasing—and the earth is a fairy-land.


The birch leaves are so small that you see the landscape through the tree—& they are like silvery & green spangles in the sun fluttering about the tree.

May 15, 1853

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The golden willow catkins begin to fall–their prime is past–

& buttercups and silvery cinquefoil,

and the first apple blossoms,

and waving grass beginning to be tinged with sorrel,

introduce us to a different season. 


May 14, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The sounds & sights—as birds & flowers heard & seen at those seasons when there are fewest—are most memorable & suggestive of poetic associations.  

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