August 31, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

With what sober joy I stand to let the water drip from me and feel my fresh vigor, who have been bathing in the same tub which the muskrat uses!  Such a medicated bath as only nature furnishes. A fish leaps, and the dimple he makes is observed now. How ample and generous was nature! My inheritance is not narrow. Here is no other this evening. Those resorts which I most live and frequent, numerous and vast as they are, are as it were given up to me, as much as if I were an autocrat or owner of the world, and by my edicts excluded men from my territories.  Perchance there is some advantage here not enjoyed in older countries. There are said to be two thousand inhabitants in Concord, and yet I find such ample space and verge, even miles of walking every day in which I do not meet nor see a human being, and often not very recent traces of them. So much of man as there is in your mind, there will be in your eye. Methinks that for a great part of the time, as much as it is possible, I walk as one possessing the advantages of human culture, fresh from society of men, but turned loose into the woods, the only man in nature, walking and meditating to a great extent as if man and his customs and institutions were not. The catbird, or the jay, is sure of the whole of your ear now. Each noise is like a stain on pure glass. The rivers now, these great blue subterranean heavens, reflecting the supernal skies and red-tinted clouds.


August 30, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:  

That thus all Norway cinquefoils in the world had curled back their calyx leaves, their warm cloaks, when now their flowering season was past, over their progeny, from the time they were created! Nature ordered this bending back of the calyx leaves, and every year since this plant was created her order has been faithfully obeyed, and this plant acts not an obscure, but essential part in the revolution of the seasons.  I am not ashamed to be contemporary with the Norway cinquefoil. May I perform my part as well!  There is so much done toward closing up the year’s accounts. It is as good as if I saw the great globe go round. It is as if I saw the Janus doors of the year closing. The fall of each humblest flower marks the annual period of some phase of human life, experience. I can be said to note the flower’s fall only when I see in it the symbol of my own change. When I experience this, then the flower appears to me.


August 29, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The air is filled with mist, yet a transparent mist, a principle in it you might call flavor, which ripens fruits. This haziness seems to confine and concentrate the sunlight, as if you lived in a halo.  It is August.

August 28, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A  new moon visible in the east.  How unexpectedly it always appears!  You easily lose it in the sky…..


The poet is a man who lives at last by watching his moods. An old poet comes at last to watch his moods as narrowly as a cat does a mouse.

I omit the unusual –– the hurricanes and earthquakes –– and describe the common. This has the greatest charm and is the true theme of poetry. You may have the extraordinary for your province, if you will let me have the ordinary.

August 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:


Methinks the truly weather-wise will know themselves––& find the signs of rain in their own moods––the aspect of their own skies or thoughts & not consult swallows & spiders––  I incline always questions about the weather without thinking.  Does a mind in sympathy with nature need a hygrometer? 

[Entry for August 26, 1852:  Rain Rain.]

August 23, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:


Resolve to read no book––to take no walk––to undertake no enterprise but such as you can endure to give an account of to yourself.  Live thus deliberately for the most part….

August 21, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

….It is very pleasant to measure the progress of the seasons by this [the blossoming of vervain] & similar clocks—


So you get not the absolute time but the true time of the season.  But I can measure the progress of the seasons only by observing a particular plant, for I notice that they are by no means equally advanced. 

August 20, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

On the pitch pine plain at first the pines are far apart––with a wiry grass between & golden rod & hard hack & St. Johns-wort & black-berry vines––each tree nearly keeping down the grass for a space about itself-–meditating to make a forest floor.  & here & there younger pines are spring up. 


––Further in you come to moss covered patches dry deep white moss––or almost bare mould––half covered with pine needles––

Thus begins the future forest floor.

August 19, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The grass in the high pastures is almost as dry as hay –– The seasons do not cease a moment to revolve, and therefore Nature rests no longer at her culminating point than at any other. If you are not out at the right instant, the summer may go by & you not see it. How much of the year is spring & fall! How little can be called summer!  The grass is no sooner grown than it begins to wither. 

August 18, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

What means this sense of lateness that so comes over one now––as if the rest of the year were down hill & we had not performed anything before––we should not now–– 


The season of flowers or of promise may be said to be over & now is the season of fruits; but where is our fruit? The night of the year is approaching, what have we done with our talent? All nature prompts & reproves us–– How early in the year it begins to be late. The sound of the crickets even in the spring makes our hearts beat with its aweful reproof––while it encourages with its seasonable warning. It matters not by how little we have fallen behind––it seems irretrievably late. The year is full of warnings of its shortness––as is life––  The sound of so many insects & the sight of so many flowers affect us so–– The creak of the cricket & the sight of the Prunella & Autumnal dandelion.  They say––for the night cometh in which no man may work.

August 17, 1851


P6110016.jpeg in Thoreau’s Journal:

I see a goldfinch go twittering through the still, louring day, and am reminded of the peeping flocks which will soon herald the thoughtful season.  Ah! If I could so live that there should be no desultory moment in all my life! That in each season when some part of nature especially flourishes, then a corresponding part of me may not fail to flourish.

August 16, 1858


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I am surprised to find that whereof late years there have been so many cardinal-flowers, there are now very few. So much does a plant fluctuate from season to season.

August 15, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:


The button bush is now nearly alltogether out of bloom––so that it is too late to see the rivers brink in its perfection––


It must be seen between the blooming of the mikania & the going out of bloom of the button bush––Before you feel this sense of lateness in the year––before the meadows are shorn––and the grass of hills & pastures is thus withered & russet––


August 13, 1854


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The change decay & fall of the brakes in woods &c is perhaps more autumnal that any sight––  They make more show than the aralia. Some are quite brown & shriveled––others––yellow––others yellow & brown––others yellow, brown, & green––making a very rich & particolored or checkered work as of plaited straw-bead or straw work––or ivory––  Others are still green with brown spots. In respect to these and many other plants of this size & habitat it is already fall. They stand yellow & yellowing all through the woods–– None perhaps so conspicuous as the brake––


At thrush alley was surprised to behold how many birch leaves had turned yellow––every other one––while clear fresh leather colored ones strewed the ground with a pretty thick bed under each tree––  So far as the birches go it is a perfect autumnal scene there––