November 2


1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The prinos berries also now attract me in the scarcity of leaves—its own all gone—its berries are apparently a brighter red for it—


1857 in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is very pleasant & cheerful now days—when the brown & withered leaves strew the ground—& almost every plant is fallen or withered—to come upon a patch of polypody (as in abundance on hill side between Calla swamp & Bateman’s P.) on some rocky and still more (same) hillside E of the Callas hill side in the woods—  When in the midst of dry & rustling leaves defying frost it stands so freshly green & full of life—The mere green which was not remarkable in the summer—is positively interesting now— My thoughts are with the poly-pody a long time after my body has passed.


The brakes—the sarsaparilla—the Solomons seals—the ladies slippers—the osmundas—have long since withered & fallen. — The huckleberries & blueberries too have lost their leaves—  The forest floor is covered with a thick coat of moist brown leaves, but what is that perennial & spring like verdure that clothes the rocks—of small green plumes pointing various ways— It is the cheerful community of the polypody. It survives at least as the type of vegetation to remind us of the spring which shall not fail. These are the green pastures where I browse now— Why is not this form copied by our sculptors instead of the foreign acanthus leaves & bays? 


The sight of this unwithering green leaf excites me like red at some seasons.  Are not wood frogs the philosophers who walk in these groves? —Methinks I imbibe a cool composed frog-like philosophy when I behold them. I don’t care for acanthus leaves— They are far fetched— I do love this form however— & would like to see it whether on your marble or my butter painted or sculptured — How fit for a tuft about the base of a column….

The evergreen ferns & lycopodiums— now have their day—now is the flower of their age—& their greenness is appreciated. They are much the clearest & most liquid green in the woods—more yellow & brown specked in the open places— The form of the polypody is strangely interesting—it is even outlandish. Some forms though common in our midst are thus perennially foreign as the growths of other latitudes—there being a greater interval between us & their kind than usual. We all feel the ferns to be further from us essentially—& sympathetically—than the phaenogamous plants—the roses & weeds for instance— It needs no geology nor botany to assure us of that—we feel it—& told them of it first. The bare outline of the polypody—thrills me strangely—it is a strange type which I cannot read—It only piques me— Simple as it is, it is as strange as an oriental character. It is quite independent of my race & of the Indian— & all mankind. It is a fabulous mythological form—such as prevailed when the earth & air & water were inhabited by those extinct fossil creatures—that we find. It is contemporary with them and affects as the sight of them.