April 17, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Sat on the smooth river bank under Fair Haven— The sun-light in the wood across the stream.

The scent of the earliest spring flowers!  I smelt the willow catkins today.  Tender––& innocent––after this rude winter––yet slightly sickening–– –– Yet full of vernal promise.  The odor–– How unlike any thing that winter affords––or nature has afforded this 6 months! A mild sweet vernal scent–– Not highly spiced & intoxicating as some erelong––but attractive to bees–– That early yellow smell. The odor of spring––of life developing amid buds––of the earth’s epithalamium–– The first flowers are not the highest scented––as catkins––as the first birds are not the finest singers––as the black-birds & song sparrows &c. The beginnings of the year are humble. But though this fragrance is not rich––it contains & prophecies all others in it.