September 29, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The intense brilliancy of the red-ripe maples scattered here and there in the midst of the green oaks & hickories on its hilly shore is quite charming. They are unexpectedly & incredibly brilliant –especially on the western shore & close to the waters edge, where alternating with yellow birches & poplars & green oaks—they remind me of a line of soldiers red coats & riflemen in green mixed together. 

September 28, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The gentian (Andrewsii) now generally in prime, on low, moist, shady banks. Its transcendent blue shows best in the shade and suggests coolness; contrasts there with the fresh green; a splendid blue, light in the shade, turning to purple with age. They are particularly abundant under the north side of the willow row in Merrick’s pasture. I count fifteen in a single cluster there, and afterward twenty in Gentian Lane near Flint’s Bridge, and there were other clusters below; bluer than the bluest sky they lurk in the moist and shady recesses of the banks.

September 27, 1856

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a very fine afternoon to be on the water, somewhat Indian-summer-like. I do not know what constitutes the peculiarity and charm of this weather; the broad water so smooth, notwithstanding the slight wind, as if, owing to some oiliness, the wind slid over without ruffling it. There is a slight coolness in the air, yet the sun is occasionally very warm. I am tempted to say that the air is singularly clear, yet I see it is quite hazy. Perhaps it is that transparency it is said to possess when full of moisture and before or after rain. Through this I see the colors of trees and shrubs beginning to put on their October dress, and the creak of the mole cricket sounds late along the shore.

September 26, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The increasing scarlet & yellow tints around the meadows & river remind me of the opening of a vast flower bud—they are the petals of its corolla—which is of the width of the valleys—

It is the flower of autumn whose expanding bud just begins to blush.

September 24, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

At Clematis Brook I perceive that the pods or follicles of the Asclepias Syriaca point upward––(did they before all point down?)

They are already bursting. I release some seeds with the long fine silk attached––the fine threads fly apart open with a spring as soon as released––& then ray themselves out into a hemispherical form, each thread freeing itself from its neighbor & all reflecting prismatic tints.

The seeds besides are winged, I let one go and it rises slowly & uncertainly at first now driven this way then that, by airs which I can not perceive––& I fear it will make shipwreck against the neighboring wood––but no, as it approaches it––it surely rises above it & then feeling the strong north wind it is borne off rapidly in the opposite direction––ever rising higher & higher––& tossing & heaved about with every commotion––till at a hundred feet in the air & 50 rods off steering south I loose sight of it. How many myriads go sailing away at this season over hill & meadow & river––to plant their race in new localities––on various tacks until the wind lulls––who can tell how many miles. And for this end these silken streamers have been perfecting all summer, snugly packed in this light chest––a perfect adaptation to this end––a prophecy of the fall & of future openings. Who could believe in the prophecies of Daniel or of Miller that the world would end this summer while one Milkweed with faith matured its seeds!

September 21, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The woods generally may now be said to be fairly beginning to turn (this with the first noticeable frost). The red maples, especially at a distance, begin to light their fires, some turning yellow, and within the woods many oak, e. g. scarlet and black and chestnut, and other leaves begin to show their colors. Those leaves of the young white oaks which have changed dull-salmon, crimson, scarlet (many incline to crimson) are mostly within the tree and partially concealed by the green leaves. They are handsomest looking up from below, the light through them.

September 18, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:  

This is a beautiful day, warm but not too warm, a harvest day (I am going down the railroad causeway), the first unquestionable and conspicuous autumnal day, when the willows and button-bushes are a yellowed bower in parallel lines along the swollen and shining stream. The first autumnal tints (of red maples) are now generally noticed. The shrilling of the alder locust fills the air. A brightness as of spring is reflected from the green shorn fields. Both sky and earth are bright. The first clear blue and shining white (of clouds). Cornstalk-tops are stacked about the fields; potatoes are being dug; smokes are seen in the horizon. It is the season of agricultural fairs. If you are not happy to-day you will hardly be so to-morrow.

September 16, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

[in Maine] ….we heard faintly from far down the stream what sounded like 2 strokes of a woodchopper’s axe echoing faintly and dully through the grim solitude & silence— When we told Joe of this he exclaimed “By George, Ill bet that was moose They make a sound like that.” 

These sounds affected us strangely, and by their very resemblance to the stroke of an axe where they probably had so different an origin enchanted the impression of solitude & wildness.

[Photo:  September 8, 2016, Squam Mountains, Sandwich, NH]

September 13, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I remember my earliest going a-graping. (It was a wonder that we ever hit upon the ripe season.)

There was more fun in finding and eying the big purple clusters high on the trees and climbing to them than in eating them. We used to take care not to chew the skins long lest they should make our mouths sore.

September 12, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I go to Flints P. For the sake of the Mt view from the hill beyond looking over Concord.  I have thought it the best especially in the winter which I can get in this neighborhood. It is worth the while to see the Mts in the horizon once a day.

I have thus seen some earth which corresponds to my least earthly & trivial––to my most heaven-ward looking thoughts–– The earth seen through an azure an etherial veil. They are the natural temples elevated brows of the earth––looking at which the thoughts of the beholder are naturally elevated and etherealized. I wish to see the earth through the medium of much air or heaven––for there is no paint like the air.  Mts thus seen are worth of worship….A man should feed his senses with the best that the land affords.

September 11, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The white-red-purple-berried bush in Hubbard’s Meadow, whose berries were fairest a fortnight ago, appears to be the Viburnum nudum, or withe-rod. Our cornel (the common) with berries blue one side, whitish the other, appears to be either the Cornus sericea or C. stolonifera of Gray, i. e. the silky, or the red-osier cornel (osier rouge), though its leaves are neither silky nor downy nor rough.