November 11, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I am glad of the shelter of the thick pine wood on the Marlboro’ road—on the plain. The roar of the wind over the pines sounds like the surf on countless beaches—an endless shore—& at intervals it sounds like a gong resounding through the halls & entries. How the wind roars among the shrouds of the wood  i.e. there is a certain resounding woodiness in the tone— The sky looks mild & fair enough from this shelter.— every withered blade of grass & every dry weed—as well as pine needle—reflects light—  The lately dark woods are open & light—the sun shines in upon the stems of trees which it has not shone on since spring —


Around the edges of ponds the weeds are dead and there too the light penetrates— The atmosphere is less moist & gross & light is universally dispersed. We are greatly indebted to these transition seasons or states of the atmosphere—which show us thus phenomena which belong not to the summer or the winter of any climate. The brilliancy of the autumn is wonderful—this flashing brilliancy—as if the atmosphere were phosphoric…

Say’s I to my-self should be the motto of my Journal.

November 10, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

This morning the ground is once more whitened with snow—but it will apparently be gone in an hour or two.  I live where the pinus rigida grows—with its firm cones almost as hard as iron—armed with recurved spines….

We are greatly indebted to these transition seasons or states of the atmosphere, which show us thus phenomena which belong not to the summer or the winter of any climate. 

November 9

1851 in Thoreau’s Journal:


Pitch pine cones very beautiful—not only the fresh leather colored ones but especially the dead grey ones—covered with lichens— The scales so regular & close—like an impenetrable coat of mail. These are very handsome to my eye— Also those which have long since opened regularly & shed their seeds


1858 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Thus steadily but unobserved the winter steals down from the north–till from our highest hills we can discern its vanguard….Little did we think how near the winter was.

It is as if a scout had brought in word that an enemy was approaching in force only a day’s march distant….We had not thought seriously of winter–we dwelt in fancied security yet.

November 8, 1853


in Thoreau’s Journal:

10 Am.  Our first snow—the wind southerly—the air chilly & moist—a very fine snow looking like a mist toward the woods or horizon which at 2 o’clock has not whitened the ground. The children greet it with a shout when they come out at recess.

November 7, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I find it good to be out this still dark mizzling afternoon– My walk or voyage is more suggestive & profitable than in bright weather. The view is contracted by the misty rain–the water is perfectly smooth & the stillness is favorable to reflection. I am more open to impressions more sensitive–(not callused or indurated by sun & wind) as if in a chamber still. My thoughts are concentrated– I am all compact–  The solitude is real too for the weather keeps other men at home.


This mist is like a roof & walls over & around & I walk with a domestic feeling– The sound of a wagon going over an unseen bridge is louder than ever–& so of other sounds.  I am compelled to look at near objects–  All things have a soothing effect–the very clouds & mists brood over me. My power of observation & contemplation is much increased. My attention does not wander. The world & my life are simplified.  – What now of Europe & Asia?

November 6, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:


Surveying on Colburn Place — It is suddenly cold. Pools frozen so as to bear–& ground frozen so that it is difficult if not impossible to force down a stake in plowed ground. 

November 5, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

At this season polypody is in the air. It is worth the while to walk in swamps now, to bathe your eyes with greenness. The terminal shield fern is the handsomest and glossiest green.


November 4

1840 in Thoreau’s Journal:

By your few words show how insufficient would be many words.


1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:

Autumnal Dandelion—& yarrow—  Must be out of doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality—as a ballast to thought & sentiment.  Health requires this relaxation this aimless life. This life in the present….My thought is a part of the meaning of the world—& hence I use a part of the world as a symbol to express my thought.

1855 in Thoreau’s Journal:


November 3

1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:


The landscape from Fair Haven Hill looks Novemberry—bare gray limbs & twigs in the swamps & where many young (or shrub) oaks have lost their leaves—You hear the rustling of oak & walnut leaves in the air. There is a ripple on the river from the cool northerly wind—the plants are sere. It is the month of withered oak leaves.


1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:

There are very few phenomena which can be described indifferently as occurring at different seasons of the year, for they will occur with some essential difference. 


1857 in Thoreau’s Journal:

 It is a phenomenon peculiar to this season, when the twigs are bare and the air is clear.

November 2


1852 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The prinos berries also now attract me in the scarcity of leaves—its own all gone—its berries are apparently a brighter red for it—


1857 in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is very pleasant & cheerful now days—when the brown & withered leaves strew the ground—& almost every plant is fallen or withered—to come upon a patch of polypody (as in abundance on hill side between Calla swamp & Bateman’s P.) on some rocky and still more (same) hillside E of the Callas hill side in the woods—  When in the midst of dry & rustling leaves defying frost it stands so freshly green & full of life—The mere green which was not remarkable in the summer—is positively interesting now— My thoughts are with the poly-pody a long time after my body has passed.


The brakes—the sarsaparilla—the Solomons seals—the ladies slippers—the osmundas—have long since withered & fallen. — The huckleberries & blueberries too have lost their leaves—  The forest floor is covered with a thick coat of moist brown leaves, but what is that perennial & spring like verdure that clothes the rocks—of small green plumes pointing various ways— It is the cheerful community of the polypody. It survives at least as the type of vegetation to remind us of the spring which shall not fail. These are the green pastures where I browse now— Why is not this form copied by our sculptors instead of the foreign acanthus leaves & bays? 


The sight of this unwithering green leaf excites me like red at some seasons.  Are not wood frogs the philosophers who walk in these groves? —Methinks I imbibe a cool composed frog-like philosophy when I behold them. I don’t care for acanthus leaves— They are far fetched— I do love this form however— & would like to see it whether on your marble or my butter painted or sculptured — How fit for a tuft about the base of a column….

The evergreen ferns & lycopodiums— now have their day—now is the flower of their age—& their greenness is appreciated. They are much the clearest & most liquid green in the woods—more yellow & brown specked in the open places— The form of the polypody is strangely interesting—it is even outlandish. Some forms though common in our midst are thus perennially foreign as the growths of other latitudes—there being a greater interval between us & their kind than usual. We all feel the ferns to be further from us essentially—& sympathetically—than the phaenogamous plants—the roses & weeds for instance— It needs no geology nor botany to assure us of that—we feel it—& told them of it first. The bare outline of the polypody—thrills me strangely—it is a strange type which I cannot read—It only piques me— Simple as it is, it is as strange as an oriental character. It is quite independent of my race & of the Indian— & all mankind. It is a fabulous mythological form—such as prevailed when the earth & air & water were inhabited by those extinct fossil creatures—that we find. It is contemporary with them and affects as the sight of them.


November 1, 1857


in Thoreau’s Journal:

I see much witch hazel in the swamp by the S end of the Abiel Wheeler Grape meadow—some of it is quite fresh & bright—Its bark is alternate white & smooth reddish brown—the smaller twigs looking as if gossamer had lodged on & draped them. What a lively spray it has—both in form & color—!


Truly it looks as if it would make divining rods—as if its twigs know where the true gold was & could point to it. The gold is in their late blossoms. Let them alone & they never point down to earth— They impart to the whole Hill-side a speckled particolored look—

October 31, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The wild apples are now getting palatable. I find a few left on distant trees—which the farmer thinks it not worth his while to gather—he thinks that he has better in his barrels, but he is mistaken unless he has a walker’s appetite & imagination—neither of which can he have. These apples cannot be too gnurly & rusty & crabbed (to look at)— The gnurliest will have some redeeming traits even to the eyes—


You will discover some evening redness dashed or sprinkled—on some protuberance or in some cavity— It is rare that the summer lets an apple go without streaking or spotting it on some part of its sphere—though perchance one side may only seem to betray that it has once fallen in a brick yard—and the other have been bespattered from a roily ink bottle.


The saunterer’s apple, not even the saunterer can eat in the house.— Some red stains it will have commemorating the mornings & evenings it has witnessed—some dark & rusty blotches in memory of the clouds, & foggy mildewy days that have passed over it—and a spacious field of green reflecting the general face of nature—green even as the fields— Or yellow its ground if it has a sunny flavor—yellow as the harvests—or russet as the hills. The noblest of fruits is the apple. Let the most beautiful or swiftest have it.



October 30, 1853 in Thoreau’s Journal:

The prevalence of this light dry Color perhaps characterizes November—that of whitening withered grass—of the fuzzy gray goldenrods—harmonizing with the cold sunlight—and that of the leaves which still hang on deciduous trees.

October 28, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:  

Four months of the green leaf make all our summer, if I reckon from June 1st to October 1st, the growing season, and methinks there are about four months when the ground is white with snow. That would leave two months for spring and two for autumn. October the month of ripe or painted leaves; November the month of withered leaves and bare twigs and limbs. 

October 27


in Thoreau’s Journal 1851

This morning I awoke and found it snowing and the ground covered with snow….


in Thoreau’s Journal 1858

The colors of the fields make haste to harmonize with the snowy mantle which is soon to invest them and with the cool, white twilights of that season which is itself the twilight of the year. 

October 26, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

At this season we seek warm sunny lees & hill sides—as that under the pitch pines by Walden shore—where we cuddle & warm ourselves in the sun as by a fire—where we may get some of its reflected as well as direct heat.

October 24, 1837


in Thoreau’s Journal:  

Every part of nature teaches us that the passing away of one life is the making room for another.  The oak dies down to the ground, leaving within its rind a rich virgin mould, which will impart a vigorous life to an infant forest – – The pine leaves a sandy and sterile soil—the harder woods a strong and fruitful mould. – – 

So this constant abrasion and decay makes the soil of my future growth. As I live now so shall I reap. If I grow pines and birches, my virgin mould will not sustain the oak, but pines and birches, or, perchance, weeds and brambles, will constitute my second growth. – – 

October 23, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

October has been the month of Aut. tints. The 1st of the month the tints began to be more general—at which time the frosts began. Though there were scattered brights tints long before—but not till then did the forest begin to be painted. By the end of the month the leaves will either have fallen or be sered & turned brown by the frosts—for the most part….