September 25, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The red maple has fairly begun to blush in some places by the river. I see one, by the canal behind Barrett’s mill, all aglow against the sun. These first trees that change are the most interesting, since they are seen against others still freshly green — such brilliant red on green. I go half a mile out of my way to examine such a red banner. A single tree becomes the crowning beauty of some meadowy vale and attracts the attention of the traveller from afar.

At the eleventh hour of the year, some tree which has stood mute and inglorious in some distant vale thus proclaims its character as effectually as if it stood by the highway-side, and it leads our thoughts away from the dusty road into those brave solitudes which it inhabits. The whole tree, thus ripening in advance of its fellows, attains a singular preeminence. I am thrilled at the sight of it, bearing aloft its scarlet standard for its regiment of green-clad foresters around. The forest is the more spirited.