August 1, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal

How much of beauty–of color as well as form–on which our eyes daily rest goes unperceived by us! No one but a botanist is likely to perceive nicely the different shades of green which the open surface of the earth is clothed–not even a landscape painter if he does not know the species of sedges and grasses which paint it.  With respect to the color of grass, most of those even who attend peculiarly to the aspects of Nature only observe that it is more or less dark or light, green or brown, or velvety, fresh or parched, etc. But if you are studying grasses you look for another and different beauty, and you find it, in the wonderful variety of color, etc., presented by the various species. 

Take the bare, unwooded earth now, and consider the beautiful variety of shades (or tints ?) of green that clothe it under a bright sun. The pastured hills of Conantum, now just imbrowned (probably by the few now stale flowering tops of the red-top which the cows have avoided as too wiry), present a hard and solid green or greenish brown, just touched here and there delicately with light patches of sheep’s fescue (though it may be only its radical leaves left), as if a dew lay on it there, —and this has some of the effect of a watered surface, —and the whole is dotted with a thousand little shades of projecting rocks and shrubs. Then, looking lower at the meadow in Miles’s field, that is seen as a bright-yellow and sunny stream (yet with a slight tinge of glaucous) between the dark-green potato-fields, flowing onward with windings and expansions, and, as it were, with rips and waterfalls, to the river meadows.