October 27, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:  

The colors of the fields make haste to harmonize with the snowy mantle which is soon to invest them and with the cool, white twilights of that season which is itself the twilight of the year. 

It is impossible to describe the infinite variety of hues, tints, and shades, for the language affords no names for them, and we must apply the same term monotonously to twenty different things…When the tints are the same they differ so much in purity and delicacy that language to describe them truly would not only have to be greatly enriched, but as it were, dyed to the same colors, itself, and speak to the eye as well as the ear. And it is the subtle differences which especially attract and charm our eyes. Where else will you study color under such advantages? To describe these colors you must use colored words…In describing the richly spotted leaves, for instance, we find ourselves using ineffectually words which merely indicate faintly our good intentions, giving them in our despair a terminal twist toward our mark,-–such as reddish, yellowish, purplish, etc. We cannot make a hue of words for they are not to be compounded like colors, and hence we are obliged to use such ineffectual expressions as reddish brown, etc. They need to be ground together.