November 10, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The brilliancy of the scarlet oak being generally dulled, the season of brilliant leaves may be considered over, ––say about the 10th; and now a new season begins, the pure November season of the russet earth and withered leaf and bare twigs and hoary withered goldenrods, etc.

November 9, 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, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The stillness of the woods and fields is remarkable at this season of the year. There is not even the creak of a cricket to be heard. Of myriads of dry shrub oak leaves, not one rustles. Your own breath can rustle them, yet the breath of heaven does not suffice to. The trees have the aspect of waiting for winter. The autumnal leaves have lost their color; they are now truly sere, dead, and the woods wear a sombre color. Summer and harvest are over. The hickories, birches, chestnuts, no less than the maples, have lost their leaves. The sprouts, which had shot up so vigorously to repair the damage which the choppers had done, have stopped short for the winter. Everything stands silent and expectant. If I listen, I hear only the note of a chickadee — our most common and I may say native bird, most identified with our forests — or perchance the scream of a jay, or perchance from the solemn depths of these woods I hear tolling far away the knell of one departed. Thought rushes in to fill the vacuum.

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, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Climbed the wooded hill by Holden’s spruce swamp—& got a novel View of the river & Fair Haven Bay—through the almost leafless woods. How much handsomer a river or lake such as ours seems thus through a foreground of scattered or else partially leafless trees though at a considerable distance this side of it—especially if the water is open without wooded shore or isles— It is the most perfect & beautiful of all frames which yet the sketcher is commonly careful to brush aside. I mean a foreground—a view of the distant water through the near forest—through a thousand little vistas—as we are rushing toward the former—that intimate mingling of wood & water which excites an expectation which the near & open view rarely realizes. We prefer that some part be concealed—which our imagination may navigate.

November 5, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Sometimes I would rather get a transient glimpse or side view of a thing—than stand fronting to it.  As those poly-podies— The object I caught a glimpse of as I went by haunts my thoughts a long time—is infinitely suggestive—& I do not care to front it & scrutinize it—for I know that the thing that really concerns me is not there, but in my relation to that. That is a mere reflecting surface. 

It is not the polypody in my pitcher or herbarium, or which I may possibly persuade to grow on a bank in my yard or which is described in botanies that interests me—but the one that I pass by in my walks a little distance off—when in the right mood. Its influence is sporadic—wafted thro’ the air to me— Do you imagine its fruit to stick to the back of the leaf all winter? 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 & glossiest green.

November 4, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholsome reality—as a ballast to thought and sentiment. Health requires this relaxation, this aimless life. This life in the present. Let a man have thought what he will of Nature in the house—she will still be novel outdoors. I keep out of doors for the sake of the mineral, vegetable, and animal in me….My thought is a part of the meaning of the world, and hence I use a part of the world as a symbol to express my thought.

November 3, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

By fall I mean literally the falling of the leaves, though some mean by it the changing or the acquisition of a brighter color.  This I call the autumnal tint, the ripening to the fall.

November 1, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

As the afternoons grow shorter, and the early evening drives us home to complete our chores, we are reminded of the shortness of life, and become more pensive, at least in this twilight of the year. We are prompted to make haste and finish our work before the night comes.