September 18, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:  

This is a beautiful day, warm but not too warm, a harvest day (I am going down the railroad causeway), the first unquestionable and conspicuous autumnal day, when the willows and button-bushes are a yellowed bower in parallel lines along the swollen and shining stream. The first autumnal tints (of red maples) are now generally noticed. The shrilling of the alder locust fills the air. A brightness as of spring is reflected from the green shorn fields. Both sky and earth are bright. The first clear blue and shining white (of clouds). Cornstalk-tops are stacked about the fields; potatoes are being dug; smokes are seen in the horizon. It is the season of agricultural fairs. If you are not happy to-day you will hardly be so to-morrow.

September 16, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

[in Maine] ….we heard faintly from far down the stream what sounded like 2 strokes of a woodchopper’s axe echoing faintly and dully through the grim solitude & silence— When we told Joe of this he exclaimed “By George, Ill bet that was moose They make a sound like that.” 

These sounds affected us strangely, and by their very resemblance to the stroke of an axe where they probably had so different an origin enchanted the impression of solitude & wildness.

[Photo:  September 8, 2016, Squam Mountains, Sandwich, NH]

September 13, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I remember my earliest going a-graping. (It was a wonder that we ever hit upon the ripe season.)

There was more fun in finding and eying the big purple clusters high on the trees and climbing to them than in eating them. We used to take care not to chew the skins long lest they should make our mouths sore.

September 12, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I go to Flints P. For the sake of the Mt view from the hill beyond looking over Concord.  I have thought it the best especially in the winter which I can get in this neighborhood. It is worth the while to see the Mts in the horizon once a day.

I have thus seen some earth which corresponds to my least earthly & trivial––to my most heaven-ward looking thoughts–– The earth seen through an azure an etherial veil. They are the natural temples elevated brows of the earth––looking at which the thoughts of the beholder are naturally elevated and etherealized. I wish to see the earth through the medium of much air or heaven––for there is no paint like the air.  Mts thus seen are worth of worship….A man should feed his senses with the best that the land affords.

September 11, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The white-red-purple-berried bush in Hubbard’s Meadow, whose berries were fairest a fortnight ago, appears to be the Viburnum nudum, or withe-rod. Our cornel (the common) with berries blue one side, whitish the other, appears to be either the Cornus sericea or C. stolonifera of Gray, i. e. the silky, or the red-osier cornel (osier rouge), though its leaves are neither silky nor downy nor rough.

September 7, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I turn Anthony’s corner. It is an early September afternoon, melting warm and sunny; the thousands of grasshoppers leaping before you reflect gleams of light; a little distance off the field is yellowed with a Xerxean army of Solidago nemoralis  between me and the sun; the earth-song of the cricket comes up through all; and ever and anon the hot z-ing of the locust is heard. (Poultry is now fattening on grasshoppers.)

The dry deserted fields are one mass of yellow, like a color shoved to one side on Nature’s palette. You literally wade in yellow flowers knee-deep, and now the moist banks and low hollows are beginning to be abundantly sugared with Aster Tradescanti.

September 6, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The sarsaparilla leaves, green or reddish, are spotted with yellow eyes centered with reddish, or dull-reddish eyes with yellow iris. They have a very pretty effect held over the forest floor, beautiful in their decay.

September 5, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Through the fogs of this distant vale we look back and upward to the source of song, whose crystal stream still ripples and gleams in the clear atmosphere of the mountain’s side.

September 4, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is wise to write on many subjects, to try many themes, that so you may find the right and inspiring one. Be greedy of occasions to express your thought. Improve the opportunity to draw analogies. There are innumerable avenues to a perception of the truth. Improve the suggestion of each object however humble, however slight and transient the provocation. What else is there to be improved ? Who knows what opportunities he may neglect? It is not in vain that the mind turns aside this way or that: follow its leading; apply it whither it inclines to go. Probe the universe in a myriad points. Be avaricious of these impulses. You must try a thousand themes before you find the right one, as nature makes a thousand acorns to get one oak. He is a wise man and experienced who has taken many views; to whom stones and plants and animals and a myriad objects have each suggested something, contributed something.

September 3, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Why was there never a poem on the cricket? Its creak seems to me to be one of the most prominent and obvious facts in the world, and the least heeded. In the report of a man’s contemplations I look to see somewhat answering to this sound.

The Cricket

By William Cowper (1731-1800)

Little inmate, full of mirth,

Chirping on my kitchen hearth,

Whereso’er be thine abode,

Always harbinger of good,

Pay me for thy warm retreat

With a song more soft and sweet;

In return thou shall receive

Such a strain as I can give. 

Thus thy praise shall be express’d,

Inoffensive, welcome guest!

While the rat is on the scout,

And the mouse with curious snout,

With what vermin else infest

Every dish, and spoil the best;

Frisking thus before the fire,

Thou hast all thine heart’s desire.

Though in voice and shape they be

Form’d as if akin to thee,

Thou surpassest, happier far,

Happiest grasshoppers that are;

Theirs is but a summer’s song,

Thine endures the winter long,

Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear,

Melody throughout the year.

Neither night nor dawn of day

Puts a period to thy play:

Sing, then — and extend thy span

Far beyond the date of man.

Wretched man, whose years are spent

In repining discontent,

Lives not, aged though he be,

Half a span, compared with thee.

September 2, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Sometimes my thought rustles in midsummer as if ripe for the fall—  I anticipate the russet hues and the dry scent of autumn, as the feverish man dreams of balm and sage.

September 1, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Great is the beauty of a wooded shore seen from the water, for the trees have ample room to expand on that side, and each puts forth its most vigorous bough to fringe and adorn the pond. It is rare that you see so natural an edge to the forest. Hence a pond like this, surrounded by hills wooded down to the edge of the water, is the best place to observe the tints of the autumnal foliage. Moreover, such as stand in or near to the water change earlier than elsewhere….How rich and autumnal the haze which blues the distant hills and fills the valleys. The lakes look better in this haze, which confines our view more to their reflected heavens and makes the shore-line more indistinct. Viewed from the hilltop, it reflects the color of the sky….Beyond the deep reflecting surface, near the shore, where the bottom is seen, it is a vivid green. I see two or three small maples already scarlet, across the pond, beneath where the white stems of three birches diverge next the water….They cannot fatally injure Walden with an axe, for they have done their worst and failed. We see things in the reflection which we do not see in the substance. In the reflected woods of Pine Hill there is a vista through which I see the sky, but I am indebted to the water for this advantage, for from this point the actual wood affords no such vista.

August 31, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We are most apt to remember and cherish the flowers which appear earliest in the spring.

I look with equal affection on those which are the latest to bloom in the fall.

August 30, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The purple balls of the carrion-flower, now open a little beneath, standing out on all sides six or eight inches from the twining stem, are very handsome.

They are covered with a blue bloom, and when this is rubbed off by leaves, are a shining blackish.