October 16, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I think that the principal stages in the autumnal changes of trees are these, thus far, as I remember, this year: ––

First, there were in September the few prematurely blushing white maples, or blazing red ones in water, that reminded us of October. Next, the red maple swamps blazed out in all their glory, attracting the eyes of all travellers and contrasting with other trees. And hard upon these came the ash trees and yellowing birches, and walnuts, and elms, and the sprout-land oaks, the last streaking the hillsides far off, often occupying more commanding positions than the maples. All these add their fires to those of the maples. But even yet the summer is unconquered. Now the red maple fires are gone out (very few exceptions), and the brightness of those accompanying fires is dulled, their leaves falling; but a general, though duller, fire, yellowish or red, growing more reddish, has seized the masses of the forest, and betrays the paucity of the evergreens, but mingled with it are the delicate tints of aspens, etc., and, beneath, of protected underwoods whose exposed specimens gave us such promise.