November 11, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The scarlet oak leaf! What a graceful & pleasing outline! a combination of graceful curves & angles–  These deep bays in the leaf are agreeable to us as the thought of deep & smooth & secure havens to the mariner– But both your love of repose & your spirit of adventure is addressed–for both bays & headlands are represented. Sharp-pointed rocks, capes–& rounded bays with smooth strands. To the sailor’s eye it is a much indented shore–& in his casual glance he thinks that if he doubles its sharp capes he will find a haven in its deep rounded bays. If I were a drawing master I would set my pupils to copying these leaves–that they might learn to draw firmly & gracefully– It is a shore to the arial ocean–on which the windy surf beats– How different from the white oak leaf with its rounded long headlands–on which no light house need be…Some white oak leaves retain a smothered inward crimson fire long after they have fallen very pure & complete & are more interesting to me than their fresher glow–because more indestructible–an evening glow–