April 28, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Again I am advertised of the approach of a new season, as yesterday. The air is not only warmer and stiller, but has more of meaning or smothered voice to it, now that the hum of insects begins to be heard. You seem to have a great companion with you, are reassured by the scarcely audible hum, as if it were the noise of your own thinking. It is a voiceful and significant stillness, such as precedes a thunder-storm or a hurricane. The boisterous spring winds cease to blow, the waves to dash, the migrating ducks to vex the air so much. You are sensible of a certain repose in nature.

April 27, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I stand under Lee’s Cliff. There is a certain summeriness in the air now, especially under a warm cliff like this, where you smell the very dry leaves, and hear the pine warbler and the hum of a few insects, —small gnats, etc.,—and see considerable growth and greenness.

Though it is still windy, there is, nevertheless, a certain serenity and long-lifeness in the air, as if it were a habitable place and not merely to be hurried through. The noon of the year is approaching. Nature seems meditating a siesta. The hurry of the duck migration is, methinks, over. But the woods generally, and at a distance, show no growth yet. 

April 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The may flower is well budded & ready to blossom but not yet out

—nor the Andromeda—nor saxifrage—nor violet that I can find. I am surprised to find the cowslip in full bloom at 2nd Div meadow.  numerous flowers. Growing in the water is not comparatively so backward this year perhaps. Its heart or kidney shaped crenate green leaves which had not freshly grown when I was here before have suddenly pushed up. The snows soon melted on this meadow. The horse tail too is ready to flower. And what is the low regular red-leaved & red rooted plant in the meadow with the cowslip? Yet we walk over snow & ice a long distance in the road here.

April 24, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Sitting by the road beyond N. Barrett’s, the colors of the world are: overhead a very light blue sky, darkest in the zenith, lightest in the horizon, with scattered white clouds seeming thickest in the horizon; all around the undulating earth a very light tawny color, from the dead grass, with the reddish and gray of forests mingled with evergreen; and, in the lap of earth, very dark blue rippled water, answering to the light blue above; the shadows of clouds flitting over all below; the spires of woods fringing the horizon on every side, and, nearer, single trees here and there seen with dark branches against the sky. 

April 23, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The first April showers are even fuller of promise and a certain moist serenity than the sunny days. How thickly the green blades are starting up amid the russet!

The tinge of green is gradually increasing in the face of the russet earth.

April 22, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

These rain-storms –– this is the third day of one –– characterize the season, and belong rather to winter than to summer.

Flowers delay their blossoming, birds tarry in their migrations, etc., etc. It is surprising how so many tender organizations of flowers and insects survive them uninjured.

April 21, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

As we stand by the Mt on the Battleground––I see a white pine dimly in the horizon just north of Lee’s Hill––at 5 1/2 Pm, its upright stem & straight horizontal feathered branches––while at the same time I hear a robin sing.  Each enhances the other. That tree seems the emblem of my life––it stands for the west––the wild.

The sight of it is grateful to me as to a bird whose perch it is to be at the end of a weary flight. I am not sure whether the music I hear is most in the robins’ song or in its boughs. The pine tree that stands on the verge of the clearing––whose boughs point westward. Which the villager does not permit to grow on the common or by the road side.–– In whose boughs the crow and the hawk have their nests.

April 20, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal:

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

To my neighbors who have risen in mist and rain I tell of a clear sunrise and the singing of birds as some traditionary mythus. I look back to those fresh but now remote hours as to the old dawn of time, when a solid and blooming health reigned and every deed was simple and heroic.

April 18, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

For the first time I perceive this spring that the year is a circle— I see distinctly the spring arc thus far. It is drawn with a firm line…

Why should just these sights & sounds accompany our life? Why should I hear the chattering of blackbirds—why smell the skunk each year? I would fain explore the mysterious relation between myself & these things. I would at least know what these things unavoidably are- —make a chart of our life & when—know why just this circle of creatures completes the world. Can I not by expectation affect the revolutions of nature—make a day to bring forth something new?

April 17, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Now comes the rain with a rush. In haste I put my boat about, raise my sail, and, cowering under my umbrella in the stern, with the steering oar in my hand, begin to move homeward. The rain soon fulls up my sail, and it catches all the little wind. From under the umbrella I look out on the scene. The big drops pepper the watery plain, the aequor, on every side. It is not a hard, dry pattering, as on a roof, but a softer, liquid pattering, which makes the impression of a double wateriness. You do not observe the drops descending but where they strike, for there they batter and indent the surface deeply like buckshot, and they, or else other drops which they create, rebound or hop up an inch or two, and these last you see, and also when they fall back broken into small shot and roll on the surface. Around each shot-mark are countless circling dimples, running into and breaking one another, and very often a bubble is formed by the force of the shot, which floats entire for half a minute. These big shot are battering the surface every three inches or thicker. I make haste to take down my sail at the bridges, but at the stone arches forgot my umbrella, which was unavoidably crushed in part. Even in the midst of this rain I am struck by the variegated surface of the water, different portions reflecting the light differently, giving what is called a watered appearance. Broad streams of light water stretch away between streams of dark, as if they were different kinds of water unwilling to mingle, though all are equally dimpled by the rain, and you detect no difference in their condition. As if Nature loved variety for its own sake. It is a true April shower, or rain, –– I think the first. It rains so easy, — has a genius for it for it and infinite capacity for [it]. Many showers will not exhaust the moisture of April.

April 16, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

That large early swamp (?) willow catkin (the sterile blossom) opens on one side like a tinge of golden sunlight, the yellow anthers bursting through the down that invests the scales.

April 15, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

6.30 a. m. —To Hill. It is warmer and quite still; somewhat cloudy in the east. The water quite smooth, –April smooth waters.

I hear very distinctly Barrett’s sawmill at my landing. The purple finch is singing on the elms about the house, together with the robins, whose strain its resembles, ending with a loud, shrill, ringing chilt chilt ehilt chilt. I push across the meadow and ascend the hill. The white-bellied swallows are circling about and twittering above the apple trees and walnuts on the hillside. Not till I gain the hilltop do I hear the note of the Fringilia juncorum (huckleberry-bird) from the plains beyond. Returned again toward my boat, I hear the rich watery note of the martin, making haste over the edge of the flood. A warm morning, over smooth water, before the wind rises, is the time to hear it. Near the water are many recent skunk probings, as if a drove of pigs had passed along last night, death to many beetles and grubs. From amid the willows and alders along the wall there, I hear a bird sing, a-chitter chitter chitter chitter chitter chitter, che che che che, with increasing intensity and rapidity, and the yellow redpoll hops in sight. A grackle goes over (with two females), and I hear from him a sound like a watchman’s rattle, ––but little more musical

April 13, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A driving snow storm in the night & still raging––5 or 6 inches deep on a level at 7 Am. All birds are turned into snow birds. Trees and houses have put on the aspect of winter.  The travelers carriage wheels, the farmer’s wagon are converted into white disks of snow through which the spokes hardly appear.

But it is good now to stay in the house & read & write. We do not now go wandering all abroad & dissipated––but the imprisoning storm condenses our thoughts–– My life is enriched–  I love to hear the wind howl. I have a fancy for sitting with my book or paper––in some mean & apparently unfavorable place––in the kitchen for instance where the work is going on––rather a little cold than comfortable–– –– My thoughts are of more worth in such places than they would be in a well-furnished & warmed studio.

April 12, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Waited at Lincoln depot an hour and a half. Heard the telegraph harp. I perceived distinctly that man melts at the sound of music, just like a rock exposed to a furnace heat. They need not have fabled that Orpheus moved the rocks and trees, for there is nothing more insensible than man; he sets the fashion to the rocks, and it is as surprising to see him melted, as when children see the lead begin to flow in a crucible.  I observe that it is when I have been intently, and it may be laboriously, at work, and am somewhat listless or abandoned after it, reposing, that the muse visits me, and I see or hear beauty. It is from out the shadow of my toil that I look into the light.

The music of the spheres is but another name for the Vulcanic force. May not such a record as this be kept on one page of the Book of Life: “A man was melted to-day.”