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.

September 7, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I turn Anthony’s corner. It is an early September afternoon, melting warm and sunny; the thousands of grasshoppers leaping before you reflect gleams of light; a little distance off the field is yellowed with a Xerxean army of Solidago nemoralis  between me and the sun; the earth-song of the cricket comes up through all; and ever and anon the hot z-ing of the locust is heard. (Poultry is now fattening on grasshoppers.)

The dry deserted fields are one mass of yellow, like a color shoved to one side on Nature’s palette. You literally wade in yellow flowers knee-deep, and now the moist banks and low hollows are beginning to be abundantly sugared with Aster Tradescanti.

September 6, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The sarsaparilla leaves, green or reddish, are spotted with yellow eyes centered with reddish, or dull-reddish eyes with yellow iris. They have a very pretty effect held over the forest floor, beautiful in their decay.

September 5, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Through the fogs of this distant vale we look back and upward to the source of song, whose crystal stream still ripples and gleams in the clear atmosphere of the mountain’s side.

September 4, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is wise to write on many subjects, to try many themes, that so you may find the right and inspiring one. Be greedy of occasions to express your thought. Improve the opportunity to draw analogies. There are innumerable avenues to a perception of the truth. Improve the suggestion of each object however humble, however slight and transient the provocation. What else is there to be improved ? Who knows what opportunities he may neglect? It is not in vain that the mind turns aside this way or that: follow its leading; apply it whither it inclines to go. Probe the universe in a myriad points. Be avaricious of these impulses. You must try a thousand themes before you find the right one, as nature makes a thousand acorns to get one oak. He is a wise man and experienced who has taken many views; to whom stones and plants and animals and a myriad objects have each suggested something, contributed something.