September 7, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The scenery, when it is truly seen, reacts on the life of the seer. How to live. How to get the most life. As if you were to teach the young hunter how to entrap his game. How to extract its honey from the flower of the world. That is my every-day business. I am as busy as a bee about it.

Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them.

September 4, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is cooler these days and nights, and I move into an eastern chamber in the morning, that I may sit in the sun. The water, too, is cooler when I bathe in it, and I am reminded that this recreation has its period. I feel like a melon or other fruit laid in the sun to ripen. I grow, not gray, but yellow.

September 3, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The Soapwort gentian out abundantly in Flints-Bridge Lane—ap. for a week—a surprisingly deep faintly purplish blue….it has the flowering of the sky.  The sky has descended & kissed the earth….Why come these blue flowers thus late in the year.

September 2, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

To Walden

The seringo, too, has long been silent like other birds. The red prinos berries ripe in sunny places. Rose hips begin to be handsome. Small flocks of pigeons are seen these days. Distinguished from doves by their sharper wings and bodies. August has been a month of berries and melons, small fruits. First in the descent from summer’s culminating-point. There is a stillness in nature for want of singing birds, commenced a month or more ago; only the crickets’ louder creak to supply their place. I have not heard a bullfrog this long time. The small cornel, or bunch-berry, is in bloom now (!!) near the pond. What great tuft-like masses the cow-wheat makes now in sprout-lands!

August 30, 1856

in Thorau’s Journal:

Both a conscious and an unconscious life are good. Neither is good exclusively, for both have the same source. The wisely conscious life springs out of an unconscious suggestion. I have found my account in travelling in having prepared beforehand a list of questions which I would get answered, not trusting to my interest at the moment, and can then travel with the most profit. Indeed, it is by obeying the suggestions of a higher light within you that you escape from yourself and, in the transit, as it were see with the unworn sides of your eye, travel totally new paths.

August 29, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The air is filled with mist, yet a transparent mist, a principle in it you might call flavor, which ripens fruits. This haziness seems to confine and concentrate the sunlight, as if you lived in a halo.  It is August.

August 27, 1855

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Goodyera Pubescens–Rattle-snake Plantain is ap. a little past its prime– It is very abundant on Clintonia swamp hill-side quite erect with its white spike 8 to 10 inches high on the sloping hillside the lower half or more turning brown–but the beautifully reticulated leaves which pave the moist shady hill-side about its base are the chief attraction. These oval leaves perfectly smooth like velvet to the touch about 1 1/2 inches long–have a broad longitudinal white white mid-rib & 4 to 6 white parallel veins very prettily & thickly connected by other conspicuous white veins transversely—& irregularly—all on a dark rich green ground.  

Is it not the prettiest leaf that paves the forest floor? As a cultivated exotic it would attract great attention for its leaf– Many of the leaves are eaten. Is it by Partridges? It is a leaf of firm texture partially not apt to be eaten by insects or decayed– & does not soon wilt. So unsoiled and undecayed– It might be imitated on carpets & rugs–some old withered stems of last year still stand.

August 26, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

That first frost on the 17th was the first stroke of winter aiming at the scalp of summer. Like a stealthy and insidious aboriginal enemy, it made its assault just before daylight in some deep and far-away hollow and then silently withdrew. Few have seen the drooping plants, but the news of this stroke circulates rapidly through the village. Men communicate it with a tone of warning. The foe is gone by sunrise, but some fearful neighbors who have visited their potato and cranberry patches report this stroke. The implacable and irresistible foe to all this tender greenness is not far off, nor can we be sure, any month in the year, that some scout from his low camp may not strike down the tenderest of the children of summer. 

This foe will go on steadily increasing in strength and boldness, till his white camps will be pitched over all the fields, and we shall be compelled to take refuge in our strongholds, with some of summer’s withered spoils stored up in barns, maintaining ourselves and our herds on the seeds and roots and withered grass which we have embarned. Men in anticipation of this time have been busily collecting and curing the green blades all the country over, while they have still some nutriment in them. Cattle and horses have been dragging homeward their winter’s food.

August 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Yesterday was a hot day, but oh, this dull, cloudy, breezy, thoughtful weather in which the creak of the cricket sounds louder, preparatory to a cheerful storm! How grateful to our feelings is the approach of autumn! We have had no serious storm since spring.

What a salad to my spirits is this cooler, darker day!

August 22, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Walking may be a science, so far as the direction of a walk is concerned. I go again to the Great Meadows, to improve this remarkably dry season and walk where in ordinary times I cannot go.

There is, no doubt, a particular season of the year when each place may be visited with most profit and pleasure, and it may be worth the while to consider what that season is in each case.

August 21, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

….It is very pleasant to measure the progress of the seasons by this [the blossoming of vervain] & similar clocks— So you get not the absolute time but the true time of the season. 

But I can measure the progress of the seasons only by observing a particular plant, for I notice that they are by no means equally advanced. 

August 20, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

This day, too, has that autumnal character. I am struck by the clearness and stillness of the air, the brightness of the landscape, or, as it were, the reflection of light from the washed earth, the darkness and heaviness of the shade, as I look now up the river at the white maples and bushes, and the smoothness of the stream. If they are between you and the sun, the trees are more black than green. It must be owing to the clearness of the air since the rains, together with the multiplication of the leaves, whose effect has not been perceived during the mists of the dog-days. But I cannot account for this peculiar smoothness of the dimpled stream – unless the air is stiller than before – nor for the peculiar brightness of the sun’s reflection from its surface. I stand on the south bank, opposite the black willows, looking up the full stream, which, with a smooth, almost oily and sheeny surface, comes welling and dimpling onward, peculiarly smooth and bright now at 4 P. M., while the numerous trees seen up the stream – white maples, oaks, etc. – and the bushes look absolutely black in the clear, bright light.

August 19, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a glorious and ever-memorable day. We observe attentively the first beautiful days in the spring, but not so much in the autumn. We might expect that the first fair days after so much rain would be remarkable. It is a day affecting the spirits of men, but there is nobody to enjoy it but ourselves. What does the laborer ox and the laborer man care for the beautiful days? Will the haymaker when he comes home tonight know that this has been such a beautiful day? This day itself has been the great phenomenon, but will it be reported in any journal, as the storm is, and the heat? It is like a great and beautiful flower unnamed. I see a man trimming willows on the Sudbury causeway and others raking hay out of the water in the midst of all this clarity and brightness, but are they aware of the splendor of this day? The mass of mankind, who live in houses or shops or are bent upon their labor out of doors, know nothing of the beautiful days which are passing above and around them. Is not such a day worthy of a hymn?

It is such a day as mankind might spend in praising and glorifying nature. It might be spent as a natural sabbath, if only all men would accept the hint, devoted to unworldly thoughts. The first bright day of the fall, the earth reflector. The dog-day mists are gone; the washed earth shines; the cooler air braces man. No summer day is so beautiful as the fairest spring and fall days.