The blue flag (Iris versicolor) enlivens the meadow. The lark sings at sundown off in the meadow. It is a note which belongs to a New England summer evening. Though so late, I hear the summer hum of a bee in the grass, as I am on my way to the river behind Hubbard’s to bathe. After hoeing in a dusty garden all this warm afternoon, —so warm that the baker says he never knew the like and expects to find his horses dead in the stable when he gets home, —it is very grateful to wend one’s way at evening to some pure and cool stream and bathe therein.
How interesting the bud’s progress from the water to the air! So many of these stems are leaf-bearing, and so many flower-bearing. Then consider how defended these plants against drought, at the bottom of the water, at most their leaves and flowers floating on its surface. How much mud and water are required to support their vitality! It is pleasant to remember those quiet Sabbath mornings by remote stagnant rivers and ponds, when pure white water-lilies, just expanded, not yet infested by insects, float on the waveless water and perfume the atmosphere. Nature never appears more serene and innocent and fragrant. A hundred white lilies, open to the sun, rest on the surface smooth as oil amid their pads, while devil’s-needles are glancing over them.
I still perceive that ambrosial sweetness from the meadows in some places. Give me the strong, rank scent of ferns in the spring for vigor; just blossoming late in the spring. A healthy and refined nature would always derive pleasure from the landscape. As long as the bodily vigor lasts, man sympathizes with nature.
Just so much beauty and virtue as there is in the world, and just so much ugliness and vice, you see expressed in flowers. Each human being has his flower which expresses his character. In them nothing is concealed, but everything published.
I cannot see the bottom of the sky, because I cannot see to the bottom of myself. It is the symbol of my own infinity. My eye penetrates as far into the ether as that depth is inward from which my contemporary thought springs.
Not by constraint or severity shall you have access to true wisdom, but by abandonment, and childlike mirthfulness. If you would know aught, be gay before it.
Nature has looked uncommonly bare & dry to me for a day or two. With our senses applied to the surrounding world we are reading our own physical & corresponding moral revolutions. Nature was so shallow all at once I did not know what had attracted me all my life. I was therefore encouraged when going through a field this evening, I was unexpectedly struck with the beauty of an apple tree –– the perception of beauty is a moral test….
What subtle differences between one season and another! The warmest weather has, perchance, arrived and the longest days, but not the driest. When I remember gathering ripe blackberries on sandy fields or stones by the roadside, the very berries warmed by the sun, I am convinced of this. The seasons admit of infinite degrees in their revolutions. Found one of the purple orchises in an open meadow.
There are some fine large clusters of lambskill close to the shore of Walden and in the Peak fronting the south–– They are early there & large ap. both on account of the warmth & the vicinity of the water –– These flowers are in perfect cylinders sometimes 6 inches long by 2 wide––and 3 such raying out or upward from one centre i.e. 3 branches clustered together.
Paddle from the ash tree to the swimming-place. The further shore is crowded with polygonums (leaves) and pontederia leaves. There seems to have intervened no night. The heat of the day is unabated. You perspire before sunrise. The bullfrogs boom still. The river appears covered with an almost imperceptible blue film. The sun is not yet over the bank. What wealth in a stagnant river! There is music in every sound in the morning atmosphere. As I look up over the bay, I see the reflections of the meadow woods and the Hosmer hill at a distance, the tops of the trees cut off by a slight ripple. Even the fine grasses on the near bank are distinctly reflected. Owing to the reflections of the distant woods and hills, you seem to be paddling into a vast hollow country, doubly novel and interesting. Thus the voyageur is lured onward to fresh pastures. The melting heat begins again as soon as the sun gets up. My shoes are covered with the reddish seeds of the grass, for I have been walking in the dew. I hear a stake-driver, like a man at his pump, which sucks, — fit sound for our sluggish river. What is the devil’s-needle about? He hovers about a foot above the pads on humming wings thus early, from time to time darting one side as if in pursuit of some invisible prey. Most would suppose the stake-driver the sound of a farmer at a distance at his pump, watering his cattle. It oftener sounds like this than like a stake, but sometimes exactly like a man driving a stake in the meadow.
Mistook a crow blackbird, on a dark-brown rock rising out of the water, for a crow or a bittern, referring it to a greater distance than the actual, by some mirage. It had a boat tail, conspicuous when it flew.
The bullfrogs lie on the very surface of the pads, showing their great yellow throats, color of the yellow breeches of the old school, and protuberant eyes. His whole back out, revealing a vast expanse of belly. His eyes like ranunculus or yellow lily buds, winking from time to time and showing his large dark-bordered tympanum. Imperturbable-looking. His yellow throat swells up like a small moon at a distance over the pads when he croaks. The floating pondweed (Potamogeton natans), with the oblong oval leaf floating on the surface, now in bloom. The yellow water ranunculus still yellows the river in the middle, where shallow, in beds many rods long. It is one of the capillary-leaved plants.
The fields are blued with blue eyed grass a slaty blue. The epilobium shows some color in its spikes. How rapidly new flowers infold—as if nature would get through her work too soon. One has as much as he can do to observe how flowers successively unfold. It is a flowery revolution to which but few attend. Hardly too much attention can be bestowed on flowers. We follow we march after the highest color—that is our flag—our standard—our “color.” Flowers were made to be seen not overlooked. Their bright colors imply eyes—spectators.—
The blue flag (Iris versicolor) grows in this pure water, rising from the stony bottom all around the shores, and is very beautiful, ––not too high-colored, ––especially its reflections in the water. There was something in its bluish blade which harmonized with the greenish water.