November 14, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I climb Anursnack—under this strong wind—more dry oak leaves are rattling down—all winter is their fall— A distinction is to be made between those trees whose leaves fall as soon as the bright autumnal tints are gone and they are withered—& those whose leaves are rustling & falling all winter even into spring. October is the month of painted leaves—of ripe leaves—when all the earth—not merely flowers—but fruits & leaves are ripe— With respect to its colors & its season it is the sunset month of the year—when the earth is painted like the sunset sky— This rich glow flashes round the world— This light fades into the clear white leafless twilight of November—and whatever more glowing sunset—or Indian summer we have then is the after-glow of the year— In October the man is ripe even to his stalk & leaves—he is pervaded by his genius—When all the forest is a universal harvest —Whether he possess the enduring color of the pines which it takes 2 years to ripen & wither—or the brilliant color of the deciduous trees which fade the first fall.


From this hill I am struck with the smoothness & washed appearance of the landscape—all these russet fields & swells look as if the withered grass had been combed by the flowing water- -not merely the sandy roads but the fields are swept— All waters, the river—& ponds—& swolen brooks—and many new ones are now seen through the leafless trees—are blue as indigo—reservoirs of dark indigo amid the general russet—& reddish brown & grey— October answers to the period in the life of man—when he is no longer dependent on his transient moods—when all his experience ripens into wisdom—but every root branch leaf of him glows with maturity— What he has been & done in his spring & summer appears— He bears his fruit—

Now for the bare branches of the oak woods—where hawks have nested & owls perched—the sinews of the trees—& the brattling (?) of the wind in their midst —  For now their leaves are off they’ve bared their arms thrown off their coats & in the attitude of fencers await the onset of the wind—to box or wrestle with it— Such high winds would have done much harm 6 weeks ago.