July 23, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A comfortable breeze blowing. Methinks I can write better in the afternoon, for the novelty of it— if I should go abroad this morning— My genius makes distinctions which my understanding cannot— and which my senses do not report. If I should reverse the usual— go forth & saunter in the fields all the forenoon then sit down in my chamber in the afternoon, which it is so unusual for me to do—it would be like a new season to me & the novelty of it inspire me. The wind has fairly blown me out doors—the elements were so lively & active— & I so sympathized with them that I could not sit while the wind went by. And I am reminded that we should especially improve the summer to live out of doors— When we may so easily it behoves us to break up this custom of sitting in the house. for it is but a custom—and I am not sure that it has the sanction of common sense. A man no sooner gets up than he sits down again….Is the literary man to live always or chiefly sitting in a chamber—through which Nature enters by a window only? What is the use of the summer?  ….but here outdoors is the place to store up influences.

July 20, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The gentle susurrus from the leaves of the trees on shore is very enlivening, as if Nature were freshening, awakening to some enterprise.

There is but little wind, but its sound, incessantly stirring the leaves at a little distance along the shore, heard not seen, is very inspiriting. It is like an everlasting dawn or awakening of nature to some great purpose.

July 18, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Methinks the asters and goldenrods begin, like the early ripening leaves, with midsummer heats. Now look out for these children of the sun, when already the fall of some of the very earliest spring flowers has commenced.

July 17, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I go to observe the lilies….The pontederia is in its prime alive with butterflies yellow & others––I see its tall blue spikes reflected beneath the edge of the pads on each side––pointing down to a heaven beneath as well as above–

July 15, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I hear a bay wing on the wall near-by sound far away—a fainter song spar—strain somewhat— I see its open mouth & quivering throat yet can hardly believe the seemingly distant strain proceeds from it—yaw yaw / twee twee / twitter twitter-te twee twe tw tw tw & so ends with a short & rapid trill— Again I am attracted by the Clam shell reach of the river running E & W—as seen from Hubbard’s fields—now beginning to be smoothed as in the fall— First next the meadows is the broad dark green rank of pickerel weeds &c &c (Polygonum &c) then the light reflecting edging of pads—& then the smooth still cloud reflecting water.  My thoughts are driven inward—even as clouds and trees are reflected in the still smooth water— There is an inwardness even in the mosquitoes hum—while I am picking blueberries in the dank wood.

July 14, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I see a rose now in its prime by the river in the water amid the willows & button bushes––while others lower on shore are nearly out of bloom…

July 13, 1852

A Journal.  —a book that shall contain a record of all your joy—your extacy….

The northern wild red wild cherry is ripe—handsome bright red but scarcely edible—also, sooner than I expected….

July 11, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Mizzling weather. Were visited by three men from Glen House, who thought it was well named “Tucker’s Ravine,” because it tuckered a man out to get to it!

July 9, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The red-lily with its torrid color & sun freckled spots––dispensing too with the outer garment of a calyx––its petals so open & wide apart that you can see through it in every direction tells of hot weather–– It is a handsome bell shape––so upright & the flower prevails over every other part. It belongs not to spring. 

July 8, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Under the Salix nigra var. falcata, [black willow] near that handsomest one, which now is full of scythe-shaped leaves, the larger six inches long by seven eighths wide, with remarkably broad lunar leafy appendages or stipules at their base, I found a remarkable moth lying flat on the still water as if asleep (they appear to sleep during the day), as large as the smaller birds. Five and a half inches in alar extent and about three inches long, something like the smaller figure in one position of the wings (with a remarkably narrow lunar-cut tail), of a sea-green color, with four conspicuous spots whitish within, then a red line, then yellowish border below or toward the tail, but brown, brown orange, and black above, toward head; a very robust body, covered with a kind of downy plumage, an inch and a quarter long by five eighths thick.

The sight affected me as tropical, and I suppose it is the northern verge of some species. It suggests into what productions Nature would run if all the year were a July. By night it is active, for, though I thought it dying at first, it made a great noise in its prison, a cigar-box, at night. When the day returns, it apparently drops wherever it may be, even into the water, and dozes till evening again. Is it called the emperor moth? [It’s a luna moth]

July 7, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The first really foggy morning yet before I rise I hear the song of birds from out it—like the bursting of its bubbles with music—the bead on liquids just uncorked. Their song gilds thus the frostwork of the morning— As if the fog were a great sweet froth on the surface of land and water—whose fixed air escaped—whose bubbles burst with music. The sound of its evaporation—the fixed air of the morning just brought from the cellars of the night escaping.— The morning twittering of birds in perfect harmony with it. I came near awaking this morning. I am older than last year   the mornings are further between— The days are fewer— Any excess—to have drunk too much water even, the day before is fatal to the morning’s clarity—but in health the sound of a cow bell is celestial music. O might I always wake to thought & poetry—regenerated! Can it be called a morning—if our senses are not clarified so that we perceive more clearly—if we do not rise with elastic vigor? How wholesome these fogs which some fear—they are cool medicated vapor baths—mingled by nature which bring to our senses all the medical properties of the meadows. The touchstones of health— Sleep with all your windows open and let the mist embrace you.

July 6, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

[Mt and Lake Chocorua on the way to Conway, NH]

Keep on through North Tamworth, and breakfast by shore of one of the Ossipee Lakes. Chocorua north-northwest. Hear and see loons and see a peetweet’s egg washed up. A shallow-shored pond, too shallow for fishing, with a few breams seen near shore; some pontederia and targetweed in it.


Travelling thus toward the White Mountains, the mountains fairly begin with Red Hill and Ossipee Mountain, but the White Mountain scenery proper on the high hillside road in Madison before entering Conway, where you see Chocorua on the left, Mote Mountain ahead, Doublehead, and some of the White Mountains proper beyond, i. e. a sharp peak.


We fished in vain in a small clear pond by the roadside in Madison.


Chocorua is as interesting a peak as any to remember. You may be jogging along steadily for a day before you get round it and leave it behind, first seeing it on the north, then northwest, then west, and at last southwesterly, ever stern, rugged and inaccessible, and omnipresent. It was seen from Gilmanton to Conway, and from Moultonboro was the ruling feature.


July 5, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The reddish blossoms of the umbelled wintergreen (Pyrola umbellata) are now in perfection and are exceedingly beautiful.  Also the white sweet-scented flowers of the P. rotundifolia