November 10, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

This morning the ground is once more whitened with snow—but it will apparently be gone in an hour or two.  I live where the pinus rigida grows—with its firm cones almost as hard as iron—armed with recurved spines….

We are greatly indebted to these transition seasons or states of the atmosphere, which show us thus phenomena which belong not to the summer or the winter of any climate. 

November 9

1851 in Thoreau’s Journal:


Pitch pine cones very beautiful—not only the fresh leather colored ones but especially the dead grey ones—covered with lichens— The scales so regular & close—like an impenetrable coat of mail. These are very handsome to my eye— Also those which have long since opened regularly & shed their seeds


1858 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Thus steadily but unobserved the winter steals down from the north–till from our highest hills we can discern its vanguard….Little did we think how near the winter was.

It is as if a scout had brought in word that an enemy was approaching in force only a day’s march distant….We had not thought seriously of winter–we dwelt in fancied security yet.

November 8, 1853


in Thoreau’s Journal:

10 Am.  Our first snow—the wind southerly—the air chilly & moist—a very fine snow looking like a mist toward the woods or horizon which at 2 o’clock has not whitened the ground. The children greet it with a shout when they come out at recess.

November 7, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I find it good to be out this still dark mizzling afternoon– My walk or voyage is more suggestive & profitable than in bright weather. The view is contracted by the misty rain–the water is perfectly smooth & the stillness is favorable to reflection. I am more open to impressions more sensitive–(not callused or indurated by sun & wind) as if in a chamber still. My thoughts are concentrated– I am all compact–  The solitude is real too for the weather keeps other men at home.


This mist is like a roof & walls over & around & I walk with a domestic feeling– The sound of a wagon going over an unseen bridge is louder than ever–& so of other sounds.  I am compelled to look at near objects–  All things have a soothing effect–the very clouds & mists brood over me. My power of observation & contemplation is much increased. My attention does not wander. The world & my life are simplified.  – What now of Europe & Asia?

November 6, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:


Surveying on Colburn Place — It is suddenly cold. Pools frozen so as to bear–& ground frozen so that it is difficult if not impossible to force down a stake in plowed ground. 

November 5, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

At this season polypody is in the air. It is worth the while to walk in swamps now, to bathe your eyes with greenness. The terminal shield fern is the handsomest and glossiest green.


November 4

1840 in Thoreau’s Journal:

By your few words show how insufficient would be many words.


1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Autumnal Dandelion—& yarrow—  Must be out of doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality—as a ballast to thought & sentiment.  Health requires this relaxation this aimless life. This life in the present….My thought is a part of the meaning of the world—& hence I use a part of the world as a symbol to express my thought.

1855 in Thoreau’s Journal:


November 3

1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:


The landscape from Fair Haven Hill looks Novemberry—bare gray limbs & twigs in the swamps & where many young (or shrub) oaks have lost their leaves—You hear the rustling of oak & walnut leaves in the air. There is a ripple on the river from the cool northerly wind—the plants are sere. It is the month of withered oak leaves.


1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:

There are very few phenomena which can be described indifferently as occurring at different seasons of the year, for they will occur with some essential difference. 


1857 in Thoreau’s Journal:

 It is a phenomenon peculiar to this season, when the twigs are bare and the air is clear.

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.


November 1, 1857


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I see much witch hazel in the swamp by the S end of the Abiel Wheeler Grape meadow—some of it is quite fresh & bright—Its bark is alternate white & smooth reddish brown—the smaller twigs looking as if gossamer had lodged on & draped them. What a lively spray it has—both in form & color—!


Truly it looks as if it would make divining rods—as if its twigs know where the true gold was & could point to it. The gold is in their late blossoms. Let them alone & they never point down to earth— They impart to the whole Hill-side a speckled particolored look—