December 1, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We are wont to foolishly to think that the creed a man professes is more significant than the fact he is….

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The dear wholesome color of shrub oak leaves—so clean & firm not decaying, but which have put on a kind of immortality—not wrinkled & thin like the white oak leaves—but full veined & plump as nearer earth—Well tanned leather on the one side–sun-tanned—color of colors—color of the cow and the deer—silver downy beneath turned toward the late bleached & russet fields—What are acanthus leaves & the rest to this?  Emblem of my winter condition. I love & could embrace the shrub oak with its scanty garment of leaves rising above the snow—lowly whispering to me–akin to winter thoughts & sunsets & to all virtue. Covert which the hare & partridge and I  seek. What cousin of mine is the shrub oak? How can any man suffer long?  For a sense of want is a prayer & all prayers are answered.— Rigid as iron–clean as the atmosphere—hardy as virtue—innocent & sweet as a maiden—is the shrub-oak. In proportion as I know & love it—I am natural & sound as a partridge. I felt a positive yearning toward one bush this afternoon. There was a match found for me at last— I fell in love with a shrub-oak. Tenacious of its leaves—which shrivel not but retain a certain wintry life in them—firm shields painted in fast colors—a rich brown–