September 30, 1856



in Thoreau’s Journal:

Juniper repens berries are quite green yet. I see some of last year’s dark purple ones at the base of the branchlets. There is a very large specimen on the side of Fair Haven Hill, above Cardinal shore. It is very handsome this bright afternoon, especially if you stand on the lower and sunny side, on account of the various ways in which its surging flakes and leaflets, green or silvery, reflect the light.



It is as if we were giants and looked down on an evergreen forest from whose flaky surface the light is variously reflected. Though so low, it is so dense and rigid that neither men nor cows think of wading through it. We got a bird’s-eye view of this evergreen forest, as of a hawk sailing over, looking into its inapproachable clefs and recesses, reflecting a green or else a cheerful silvery light.


September 29, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal:

All fair action in man is the product of enthusiasm –– There is enthusiasm in the sunset. The shell on the shore takes new layers and new tints from year to year with such rapture as the bard writes his poem. There is a thrill in the spring, when it buds and blossoms––there is happiness in the summer––a contentedness in the autumn––a patient repose in the winter. 


Nature does nothing in the prose mood, though sometimes grimly with poetic fury, as in earthquakes &c and at other times humorously.

September 28, 1858


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The gentian (Andrewsii) now generally in prime, on low, moist, shady banks. Its transcendent blue shows best in the shade and suggests coolness; contrasts there with the fresh green; a splendid blue, light in the shade, turning to purple with age. They are particularly abundant under the north side of the willow row in Merrick’s pasture. I count fifteen in a single cluster there, and afterward twenty in Gentian Lane near Flint’s Bridge, and there were other clusters below; bluer than the bluest sky they lurk in the moist and shady recesses of the banks.

September 27, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Who can believe that the mt peak which he beholds 50 miles off in the horizon, rising far & faintly blue above an intermediate range––while he stands on his trivial native hills––or in the dusty highway, can be the same with that which he looked up at once near at hand from a gorge in the midst of primitive woods. For a part of two days I travelled across lots once––loitering by the way––through primitive wood & swamps over the highest peak of the Peterboro Hills to Monadnock once––by ways from which all landlords & stage drivers endeavored to dissuade us–– It was not a month ago––  But now that I look across the globe in an instant to the dim monadnock peak––and these familiar fields & copse woods appear to occupy the greater part of the interval––I cannot realize that Joe Evely’s house still stands there at the base of the mt––& all that long tramp through wild woods with invigorating scents before I got to it–– I cannot realize that on the tops of those cool blue ridges are in abundance berries still, bluer than themselves––as if they borrowed their blueness from their locality.


From the mts we do not discern our native hills, but from our native hills we look out easily to the far blue mts which seem to preside over them. As I look north westward to that summit from a Concord cornfield how little can I realize all the life that is passing between me & it––the retired up country farm houses––the lonely mills––wooded vales––wild rocky pastures––and new clearings on stark mt sides––& rivers gurgling through primitive woods––!  All these and how much more I overlook.  I see the very peak––there can be no mistake––but how much I do not see that is between me & it––how much I over-look!  In this way we see stars. What is it but a faint blue cloud––a mist that may vanish––. But what is it on the other hand to one who has travelled to it day after day has threaded the forest & climbed the hills that are between this & that has tasted the raspberries or the blueberries that grow on it––& the springs that gush from it––has been wearied with climbing its rocky sides––felt the coolness of its summit––and been lost in the clouds there?

September 26, 1854


in Thoreau’s Journal:

Some single red maples are very splendid now––the whole tree bright scarlet––against the cold green pines––now when very few trees are changed a most remarkable object in the landscape. Seen a mile off. It is too fair to be believed––especially seen against the light–– Some are a reddish or else greenish yellow––others with red or yellow cheeks–– I suspect that the yellow maples had not scarlet blossoms.

September 25, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I did not see but the seeds of milkweed would be borne many hundred miles––and those which were ripened in New England might plant themselves in Pennsylvania. Packed in a little oblong chest––armed with soft downy prickles & lined with a smooth silky lining––lie some hundred of pear shaped seeds or shaped like the weight of steel-yards––the plumb. Closely packed and filling the follicle one or 2 hundred seeds––which have derived their nutriment through a band of extremely fine silken threads attached by their extremities to the core. At length when the seeds are matured & cease to require nourishment form the plant––being weaned & the pod with dryness & frost bursting––the extremities of the silken threads detach them selves from the core & from being the conduits of nutriment to the seed become the buoyant balloon which like some spiders’ webs bears the seeds to new & distant fields. They merely serve to buoy up the full fed seed.–– far finer than the finest thread. Think of the great variety of balloons which are buoyed up by similar means. I am interested in the fate or success of every such venture which the autumn sends forth.

September 24, 1851



in Thoreau’s Journal:

At Clematis Brook I perceive that the pods or follicles of the Asclepias Syriaca point upward––(did they before all point down?) They are already bursting. I release some seeds with the long fine silk attached––the fine threads fly apart open with a spring as soon as released––& then ray themselves out into a hemispherical form, each thread freeing itself from its neighbor & all reflecting prismatic tints. The seeds besides are winged, I let one go and it rises slowly & uncertainly at first now driven this way then that, by airs which I can not perceive––& I fear it will make shipwreck against the neighboring wood––but no, as it approaches it––it surely rises above it & then feeling the strong north wind it is borne off rapidly in the opposite direction––ever rising higher & higher––& tossing & heaved about with every commotion––till at a hundred feet in the air & 50 rods off steering south I loose sight of it. How many myriads go sailing away at this season over hill & meadow & river––to plant their race in new localities––on various tacks until the wind lulls––who can tell how many miles. And for this end these silken streamers have been perfecting all summer, snugly packed in this light chest––a perfect adaptation to this end––a prophecy of the fall & of future openings. Who could believe in the prophecies of Daniel or of Miller that the world would end this summer while one Milkweed with faith matured its seeds!

September 23, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is important then that we should air our lives by removals, excursions in the fields and woods….


So live that only the most beautiful wild flowers will spring up where you have dwelt, harebells, violets, and blue-eyed grass.

September 22, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:


As I look off from the hilltop, I wonder if there are any finer days in the year than these the air is so fine and bracing. The landscape has acquired some fresh verdure withal. The frosts come to ripen the days like fruits, persimmons.


September 21, 1859


in Thoreau’s Journal:

Heard in the night a snapping sound, and the fall of some small body on the floor from time to time. In the morning I found it was produced by the witch-hazel nuts on my desk springing open and casting their seeds quite across my chamber, hard and stony as these nuts were.


For several days they are shooting black seeds about my chamber…I suspect it is not when the witch-hazel nut first gapes open that the seeds fly out. For I see many, if not most of them, open first with the seeds in them; but when I release a seed, it being still held by its base, it flies, as I have said. I think that its slippery base is compressed by the unyielding shell which at length expels it just as I can make one fly by pressing it and letting it slip from between my thumb and finger. It appears to fit close to the shell at its base, even after the shell gapes.

September 19, 1854


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I have given myself up to nature– I have tried so many Springs & summers & autumns and winters as if I had nothing else to do but to live them–& imbibe whatever nutriment they had for me– I have spent a couple of years, for instance, with the flowers chiefly, having none other so binding engagement as to observe when they opened– I could have afforded to spend a Whole fall observing the changing tints of the foliage. Ah how I have thriven on solitude & poverty– I cannot overstate this advantage. I do not see how I could have enjoyed it–if the public had been expecting as much of me as there is danger now that they will– If I go abroad lecturing how shall I ever recover the lost winter? It has been my vacation–my season of growth & expansion–a prolonged youth–

September 16, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The rippled blue surface of Fair Haven from the Cliffs—with its smooth white border where weeds preserve the surface smooth––a placid sliver plated rim––  The pond is like the sky with a border of whitish clouds in the horizon.

September 13, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Asters various shades of blue and especially the smaller kinds of dense flowering white ones are more than ever—by the roadsides….The golden glow of autumn concentrated—more golden than the sun….The earth wears different colors or liveries at different seasons.  If I come by at this season a golden blaze will salute me here from a thousand suns. 


How earnestly & rapidly each creature—each flower is fulfilling its part while its day lasts!  Nature never lost a day—nor a moment — As the planet in its orbit & around its axis—so do the seasons— —so does time revolve with a rapidity inconceivable. 

September 12, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I go to Flints P. For the sake of the Mt view from the hill beyond looking over Concord.  I have thought it the best especially in the winter which I can get in this neighborhood. It is worth the while to see the Mts in the horizon once a day. I have thus seen some earth which corresponds to my least earthly & trivial––to my most heaven-ward looking thoughts–– The earth seen through an azure an etherial veil. They are the natural temples elevated brows of the earth––looking at which the thoughts of the beholder are naturally elevated and etherealized. I wish to see the earth through the medium of much air or heaven––for there is no paint like the air.  Mts thus seen are worth of worship….A man should feed his senses with the best that the land affords.