December 7, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a fair, sunny, and warm day in the woods for the season. We eat our dinners on the middle of the line, amid the young oaks in a sheltered and very unfrequented place. I cut some leafy shrub oaks and cast them down for a dry and springy seat. As I sit there amid the sweet-fern, talking with my man Briney, I observe the recent shoots of the sweet-fern —which, like many larger uses and trees, have a few leaves in a tuft still at their extremities —toward the sun are densely covered with a bright, warm, silvery down, which looks like frost, so thick and white. Looking the other way, I see none of it, but the bare reddish twigs. Even this is a cheering and compensating discovery in my otherwise barren work. I get thus a few positive values, answering to the bread and cheese which make my dinner. I owe thus to my weeks at surveying a few such slight but positive discoveries…

I would rather sit at this table with the sweet-fern twigs between me and the sun than at the king’s.