the Thoreau Log.
Æt. 39.
1 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I observe a shelf of ice—what arctic voyagers call the ice-belt or ice-foot (which they see on a very great scale sledging upon it)—adhering to the walls and banks at various heights, the river having fallen nearly two feet since it first froze. It is often two or three feet wide and now six inches thick.

  Am still surveying the W— or Lee farm. W— cleared out and left this faithful servant like a cat in some corner of this great house, but without enough to buy him a pair of boots, I hear. Parker was once a Shaker at Canterbury. He is now Captain E—’s right-hand man . . .

  E—, having lent W— money, was obliged to take the farm to save himself, but he is nearly blind and is anxious to get rid of it . . .

(Journal, 9:203).
2 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To-day I see Parker is out with horse and cart, collecting dead wood at the Rock and drawing it home over the meadow. I saw the English servant-girl with on of the children flat on the ice hard at work on the river cutting a hole with a hatchet, but as the ice was thick and the water gushed up too soon for her, I saw that she would fail and directed her to an open place. She was nearly beat out . . .
(Journal, 9:204)
3 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snows all day, falling level, without wind, a moist and heavy snow. Snowed part of the night also. But to my surprise a high wind arose in the night and that and the cold so dried the snow that—

  (Jan. 4) this morning it is a good deal drifted.

(Journal, 9:204).
4 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It did not freeze together, or crust, as you might have expected. You would not suppose it had been moist when it fell. About eight inches have fallen, yet there is very little on the river. It blows off, unless where water has oozed out at the sides . . . Deep and drifted as the snow is, I found, when I returned from my walk, some dry burs of the burdock adhering to the lining of my coat. Even in the middle of winter, aye, in middle of the Great Snow, Nature does not forget these her vegetable economies . . . I wish again to participate in the serenity of nature, to share the happiness of the river and the woods. I thus from time to time break off my connection with eternal truths and go with the shallow stream of human affairs, grinding at the mill of the Philistines; but when my task is done, with never failing confidence I devote myself to the infinite again. It would be sweet to deal with men more, I can imagine, but where dwell they? Not in the fields which I traverse.
(Journal, 9:203-204)
5 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A cold, cutting northwest wind (Journal, 9:206).
6 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river is now for the most part covered with snow again, which has blown from the meadows and been held by the water which has oozed out. I slump through snow into that water for twenty rods together, which is not frozen though the thermometer says -8° (Journal, 9:206).

7 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M. – To Walden down railroad and return over Cliffs.

  I should not be ashamed to have a shrub oak for my coat-of-arms.

  It is bitter cold, with a cutting northwest wind. The pond is now a plain snow-field, but there are no tracks of fishers on it. It is too cold for them. The surface of the snow there is finely waved and grained, giving it a sort of slaty fracture, the appearance which hard, dry blown. snow assumes. All animate things are reduced to their lowest terms. This is the fifth day of cold, blowing weather. All tracks are concealed in an hour or two . . .

(Journal, 9:207-11)
8 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I find hanging Smith’s thermometer on the same nail with ours that it stands 5° below ours.

  It was 18° by ours when I went out for a walk. I picked up on the bare ice of the river, opposite the oak in Shattuck’s land, on a small space blown bare of snow, a fuzzy caterpillar, black at the two ends and red-brown in the middle, rolled into a ball or close ring, like a woodchuck. I pressed it hard between my fingers and found it frozen. I put it into my hat, and when I took it out in the evening, it soon began to stir and at length crawled about, but a portion of it was not quite flexible. It took some time for it to thaw. This is the fifth cold day, and it must have been frozen so long. It was more than an inch long . . .

(Journal, 9:212)
10 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau surveys the Merrick’s Pastures for Daniel Shattuck.
11 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Began snowing yesterday afternoon, and it is still snowing this forenoon.

  Mother remembers the Cold Friday very well. She lived in the house where I was born. The people in the kitchen—Jack Garrison, Esther, and a Hardy girl—drew up close to the fire, but the dishes which the Hardy girl was washing froze as fast as she washed them, close to the fire. They managed to keep warm in the parlor by their great fires . . .

For some years past I have partially offered myself as a lecturer . . . Yet I have had but two or three invitations to lecture in a year, and some years none at all. I congratulate myself on having been permitted to stay at home thus, I am so much the richer for it . . .

(Journal, 9:214).
13 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear one thrumming a guitar below stairs. It reminds me of moments that I have lived. What a comment on our life is the least strain of music! It lifts me up above all the dust and mire of the universe. I soar or hover with clean skirts over the field of my life . It is ever life within life, in concentric spheres. The field wherein I toil or rust at any time is at the same time the field for such different kinds of life! The farmer’s boy or hired man has an instinct which tells him as much indistinctly, and hence his dreams and his restlessness; hence, even, it is that he wants money to realize his dreams with. The identical field where I am leading my humdrum life, let but a strain of music be heard there, is seen to be the field of some unrecorded crusade or tournament the thought of which excites in us an ecstasy of joy . . .

  P. M.—On the river to Bittern Rock.

  The river is now completely concealed by snow. I come this way partly because it is the best walking here, the snow not so deep. The only wild life I notice is a crow on a distant oak . . .

(Journal, 9:218).
14 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Up Assabet on ice.

  I go slumping four or five inches in the snow on the river, and often into water above the ice, breaking through a slight crust under the snow, which has formed in the night. Each cold day is this concealed overflow, mixing with the snow beneath, is converted into ice, and so raises it, makes the surface snow shallower, and improves the walking; but unless it is quite cold, this snow and water is apt to get a slight crust only, through which you sink . . .

(Journal, 9:220).
15 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Fair Haven Pond and across to railroad . . .

  What is there ill music that it should so stir our deeps? We are all ordinarily in a state of desperation; such is our life; ofttimes it drives us to suicide. To how many, perhaps to most, life is barely tolerable, and if it were not for the fear of death or of dying, what a multitude would immediately commit suicide! But let us hear a strain of music, we are at once advertised of a life which no man had told us of, which no preacher preaches. Suppose I try to describe faithfully the prospect which a strain of music exhibits to me. The field of my life becomes a boundless plain, glorious to tread, with no death nor disappointment at the end of it. All meanness and trivialness disappear. I become adequate to any deed . . .

(Journal, 9:222)
16 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Up Assabet . . .

  I observe that the holes which I bored in the white maples last spring were nearly grown over last summer, commonly to within a quarter or an eighth of an inch, but in one or two instances, in very thriftily growing trees, they were entirely closed . . . (Journal, 9:224).

17 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau has an ambrotype taken, documented by Ellen Emerson in a letter to her father:

  Mr Thoreau has been here twice this week, once to dinner and once to tea. He went to have his Ambrotype taken to-day, and such a shocking, spectral, black and white picture as Eddy brought home in triumph was never seen. I am to carry it back and poor Mr Thoreau has got to go again (ETE, 1:125).
18 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A very cold day. Thermometer at 7:30 A.M., -14° (Smith’s hanging on same nail -20°); at 1.15 P.M., -3°; 2.15 P. M., -4°; 3.45 P.M., 0°. It is cloudy and no sun all day, and considerable wind also. There was no Sabbath-school on account of the cold; could not warm the room.

  We sometimes think that the inferior animals act foolishly, but are there any greater fools than mankind? Consider how so many, perhaps most, races . . . treat the traveller; what fears and prejudices has he to contend with. So many millions believing that he has to come [to] do them some harm. Let a traveller set out to go round the world, visiting every race, and he shall meet with such treatment at their hands that he will be obliged to pronounce them incorrigible fools. Even in Virginia a naturalist who was seen crawling through a meadow catching frogs, etc. was seized and carried before the authorities . . .

(Journal, 9:225-226)
19 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A snow-storm with very high wind all last night and to-day. Though not much snow falls (perhaps seven or eight inches), it is exceedingly drifted, so that the first train gets down about noon . . . (Journal, 9:226)

20 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There probably is not more than twelve to fifteen inches of snow on a level, yet the drifts are very large. Neither milkman nor butcher got here yesterday, and to-day the milkman came with oxen, partly through the fields . . .

  At R. W. E.’s this evening, at about 6 P.M., I was called out to see Eddy’s cave in the snow. It was a hole about two and a half feet wide and six feet long, into a drift, a little winding, and he had got a lamp at the inner extremity. I observed, as I approached in a course at right angles with the length of the cave, that the mouth of the cave was lit as if the light were close to it, so that I did not suspect its depth . . . But, what was most surprising to me, when Eddy crawled into the extremity of his cave and shouted at the top of his voice, it sounded ridiculously faint, as if he were a quarter of a mile off, and at first I could not believe that he spoke loud, but we all of us crawled in by turns, and though our heads were only six feet from those outside, our loudest shouting only amused and surprised them . . .

(Journal, 9:227-228)

Ellen Emerson writes to her father, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

  Mr Thoreau was here night before last and Eddy illuminated his snow cave and called out to us; we couldn’t hear what he said though we were close to the mouth of the cave and Mr Thoreau said “Speak louder” so Eddy spoke again and we could hear some very feeble words. Then Mr Thoreau told him to holla as loud as he could, but we heard only very weak squeaks. Then Mr Thoreau was very surprised, as he said he could hardly believe Eddy was calling loud, and he went in himself and shouted and it sounded as if someone was in trouble over the brook near Mr Stow’s. And Eddy went in and peeped and that sounded very feeble. Mr Thoreau thought that the snow sucked up the sound. Then he said he should like to see how transparent snow was, and we dug into the snow-drift a hole with one side 4 inches thick and one 14 and about 6 inches from the top, then we put the lamp in and walled it up with a block of snow eight inches thick, through the four inches one could see to read, through the fourteen the lamp shone bright and shining like a lantern—a Norwegian would think it was a Troll-mount. Mr Thoreau was quite delighted and so we all were with our experiments.
(ETE, 1:127-28).
21 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Up river to W. Wheeler’s Bridge and back by road . . .

  It is remarkable how many tracks of foxes you will see quite near the village, where they have been in the night, and yet a regular walker will not glimpse one oftener than once in eight or ten years (Journal, 9:228).

22 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   Snows all day, clearing up at night,—a remarkably fine and dry snow . . .

  P. M.—To Walden.

I asked M[inott]. about Cold Friday. He said, “it was plaguy cold; it stung like a wasp.” He remembers seeing them toss up water in a shoemaker’s shop, usually a very warm place, and when it struck the floor it was frozen and rattled like so many shot. Old John Nutting used to say, “When it is cold it is a sign it’s going to be warm,” and “When it’s warm it’s a sign it’s going to be cold.”

(Journal, 9:229-230).
23 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The coldest day that I remember recording, clear and bright, but very high wind, blowing the snow. Ink froze . . . Walking this afternoon, I notice that the face inclines to stiffen, and the hands and feet get cold soon. On first coming out in very cold weather, I find that I breathe fast, though without walking faster or exerting myself any more than usual . . . (Journal, 9:230-31).
24 January 1857.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thermometer about 6.30 A.M. in the bulb!! but Smith’s on the same nail, -30°; Wilds’, early, -16°; Emerson’s, the same; at 9 .15 A.M., ours, -18°; Smith’s, -22° . . . (Journal, 9:231)

Chicago, Ill. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife:

  Two or three very agreeable persons I find here; among others, tell Henry T., Mr [Benjamin] Wiley, who remains loyal to him, & who, to be sure, invited me to a ride on the prairie; but I told him I had ridden on the prairie to my heart’s content. I advised him to invite Mr T. to a summer expedition with him to the Yellow Stone River, which, I told him, I doubted not Henry would like; & Wiley will, I think, propose something like that to him.
(EL, 5:38-39).
25 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Bittern Rock on river.

  The road beyond Hubbard’s Bridge has been closed by snow for two or three weeks; only the walls show that there has been a road there. Travellers take to the fields . . . (Journal, 9:231).

26 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another cold morning. None looked early, but about eight it was – 14°.

  A. M.—At Cambridge and Boston.

  Saw Boston Harbor frozen over (for some time) . . . (Journal, 9:232).

Thoreau borrows Jesuit Relation, vols. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26, and Beverley’s or Campbell’s History of Virginia from Harvard Library (Cameron 1964, 291).

27 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thawing a little at last. Thermometer 35°.

  The most poetic and truest account of objects is generally by those who first observe them, or the discoverers of them . . .

  I hear the unusual sound of pattering rain this afternoon, though it is not yet in earnest. Thermometer to-day commonly at 38°. Wood in the stove is slow to burn; often goes out with this dull atmosphere. But it is less needed.

  10 P. M.—Hear music below. It washes the dust off my life and everything I look at . . .

(Journal, 9:232-34).
28 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Walden.

  Notice many heaps of leaves on snow on the hillside southwest of the pond, as usual. Probably the rain and thaw have brought down some of them . . . (Journal, 9:234).

31 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snows fast, turning to rain at last (Journal, 9:234)
1 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  3 P. M.—Down railroad . . .

  A laborer on the railroad tells me it is Candlemas Day (February 2d) to-morrow and the winter half out. “Half your wood and half your hay,” . . . and as that day is, so will be the rest of the winter . . .

(Journal, 9:235)
2 February 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The snow-crust on all hills and knolls is now marked by the streams of water that have flowed down it, like a coarsely combed head; i. e., the unbroken crust is in alternate ridges and furrows from the tops of the hills to the bottoms . . .
(Journal, 9:235).
3 February 1857. Fitchburg, Mass.
Thoreau delivers a lecture, “Walking, or the Wild,” at Fitchburg City Hall (“Walking, or the Wild“)

He also writes in his journal:

  To Fitchburg to lecture.

  Observed that the Nashua at the bridge beyond Groton Junction was open for twenty rods, as the Concord is not anywhere in Concord. This must be owing to the greater swiftness of the former . . . (Journal, 9:235-36)

4 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Met Theodore Parker in the cars, who told me that he had recently found in Lake Michigan a single ball, five inches in diameter, like those I presented to the Natural History Society, though he did not observe the eriocaulon. It was late in the season . . .  Sometimes when, in conversation or a lecture, I have been grasping at, or even standing and reclining upon, the serene and everlasting truths that underlie and support our vacillating life, I have seen my auditors standing on their terra firma, the quaking earth, crowded together on their Lisbon Quay, and compassionately or timidly watching my motions as if they were he antics of a rope-dance or mounteback pretending to walk on air: or here and there on creeping out upon an overhanging but cracking bough, unwilling to drop to the adamantine floor beneath, or perchance even venturing out a step or two, as if it were a dangerous kittly-bender, timorously sounding as he goes . . .

[W]hen I have been resting and quenching my thirst on the eternal plains of truth, where rests the base of those beautiful columns that sustain the heavens, I have been amused to see a traveller who had long confined himself to the quaking shore, which was all covered with the traces of the deluge, come timidly tiptoeing toward me, trembling in every limb.

(Journal, 9:238-39)
5 February 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mizzling rain (Journal, 9:239).
6 February 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Down the railroad to see the glaze, the first we have had this year, but not a very good one. It is about a fifth or sixth of an inch thick on the northeast sides of twigs . . . not transparent, but of an opaque white, granular character . . . (Journal, 9:240).

Thoreau writes a letter to Harrison Gray Otis Blake:

  I will come to you on Friday with that lecture. You may call it “The Wild”—or “Walking”” (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 465).
7 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am surprised to see over Walden Pond, which is covered with puddles, that seething or shimmering in the air which is observed over the fields in a warm day in summer, close over the ice for several feet in height, notwithstanding that the sky is completely overcast . . . It is so warm that I am obliged to take off my greatcoat and carry it on my arm . . .
(Journal, 9:243).
8 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I congratulate myself on my so-called poverty. I was almost disappointed yesterday to find thirty dollars in my desk which I did not know that I possessed, though now I should be sorry to lose it. The week that I go away to lecture, however much I may get for it, is unspeakably cheapened. The preceding and succeeding days are a mere sloping down and up from it.
In the society of many men, or in the midst of what is called success, I find my life of no account, and my spirits rapidly fall . . . But when I have only a rustling oak leaf, or the faint metallic cheep of a tree sparrow, for variety in my winter walk, my life becomes continent and sweet as the kernel of a nut . . .

  P. M.—To Hubbard Bath . . .

(Journal, 9:245-46).
10 February 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The thaw which began on the 4th lasted through the 8th.  When I surveyed Shattuck’s pasture fields, about January 10th. I was the more pleased wit the task because of the three will-rows about them. One, trimmed a year before, had grown about seven feet, a dense hedge of bright-yellow osiers. But MacManus, who was helping with me, said that he though the land would be worth two hundred dollars more if the willows were out of the way, they so filled the ground with their roots. He had found that you could not plow within five rods of them, unless at right angles with the rows . . .

(Journal, 9:250-51)
11 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The meadows, flooded by the that of the last half of last week and Sunday, are now frozen hard enough to bear, and it is excellent skating.  Near the other swamp white oak on Shattuck’s piece I found another caterpillar on the ice. [B]eing placed on the mantelpiece it soon became relaxed, and in fifteen minutes began to crawl . . .

(Journal, 9:253).

On 11 February 1857, the Worcester Daily Spy published an item praising Thoreau’s recent Fitchburg on “The Wild” the week before and notes that it will be repeated on 13 February at Brinley Hall (“Walking or, The Wild“.

12 February 1857. Worcester, Mass.
Thoreau travels to Worcester to deliver his lecture “Walking, or the Wild.”

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I observe that the Nashua in Lancaster has already fallen about three feet, as appears by the ice on the trees, walls, banks, ect., though the main stream of the Concord has not begun to fall at all (Journal, 9:254)
13 February 1857. Worcester, Mass.

On 14 February, Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Higginson told me yesterday of a large tract near Fayal and near Pico (Mountain), covered with the reindeer (?) (as I suggested and he assented) lichens, very remarkable and desolate, extending for miles, the effect of an earthquake, which will in course of time be again clothed with a larger vegetation . . .
(Journal, 9:254-5)

Thoreau delivers “Walking, or The Wild” at Brinley Hall, Worcester (“Walking or, The Wild“).

14 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is a fine, somewhat springlike day. The ice is softening so that skates begin to cut in, and numerous caterpillars are now crawling about on the ice and snow . . . (Journal, 9:254-5).
15 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  About the 1st of January, when I was surveying the Lee farm, Captain Elwell, the proprietor, asked me how old I thought the house was.

  I looked into Shattuck’s History and found that, according to him, “Henry Woodhouse, or Woodis, as his name was sometimes written, came to Concord from London, about 1650, freeman 1656 . . .

When I returned from Worcester yesterday morning, I found that the Lee house, of which six weeks ago I made an accurate plan, had been completely burned up the evening before, i.e. the 13th, while I was lecturing in Worcester . . . There was nothing of the house left but the chimneys and cellar walls. The eastern chimney had fallen in the night . . .

  This morning (the 15th), it having rained in the night, and thinking the fire would be mostly out, I made haste to the ruins of the Lee house to read that inscription. By laying down boards on the bricks and cinders, which were quite too hot to tread on and covered a smothered fire, I was able to reach the chimney. The inscription was on the cast side of the east chimney (which had fallen) . . .

(Journal, 9:256-58)
16 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—To Lee house site again.

  It was a rough-cast house when I first knew it. The fire still glowing among the bricks in the cellar. Richard Barrett says he remembers the inscription and the date 1650, but not the rest distinctly . . .

(Journal, 9:262-5)

Ticknor & Fields sends a check for $45.00 for sales in 1856 of 240 copies of Walden and 6 copies of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 465-66).
17 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thermometer at 1 P.M., 60°.

  The river is fairly breaking up, and men are out with guns after muskrats, and even boats. Some are apprehending loss of fruit from this warm weather. It is as open as the 3d of April last year, at least.

  P.M.—To the old Hunt house . . .

(Journal, 9:265-6)

Isaiah Williams writes to Thoreau:

  I came home from Cleveland and found yours of the 7th inst. I had an idea the map of Superior [indecipherable word]” (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 466).
18 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another remarkably warm and pleasant day. The nights of late nearly as warm as the day.

  When I step out into the, yard I hear that earliest spring note from some bird, perhaps a pigeon woodpecker (or can it be a nuthatch, whose ordinary note I hear?), the rapid whar whar, whar whar, whar whar, which I have so often heard before any other note.

  I thought at one time that I heard a bluebird. Hear a fly buzz amid some willows.

  Thermometer at 1 P.M., 65.

  Sophia says that Mrs. Brooks’s spireas have started considerably! . . .

(Journal, 9:266-71)

19 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. Cheney tells me that Goodwin brought him a partridge to sell in the midst of the late severe weather. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. said it was a pity to kill it, it must find it hard to get a living. “I guess she did n’t find it any harder than I do,” answered G[oodwin] . . . (Journal, 9:272-3).
20 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  this morning the ground is once more covered about one inch deep.

  Minott says that the house he framed and set up by Captain Isaac Hoar just beyond the old house by Moore’s, this side the one he was born in, his mother’s (?) house (whose well is that buried by Alcott on the sidewalk), and there the frame stood several years . . .

  I wish that there was in every town, in some place accessible to the traveller, instead [of] or beside the common directories, etc., a list of the worthies of the town, i.e. of those who are worth seeing . . .

(Journal, 9:273-75)
21 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Am surprised to see this afternoon a boy collecting red maple sap from some trees behind George Hubbard’s. It runs freely. The earliest sap I made to flow last year was March 14th. It must be owing to the warm weather we have had.

  The river for some days has been open and its sap visibly flowing, like the maple.

(Journal, 9:275)
22 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Dugan Desert.

  The Tonnmy Wheeler house, like the Hunt house, has the sills projecting inside. Its bricks are about the same size with those of the Lee chimney . . . (Journal, 9:275).

Thomas Cholmondeley writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau

  You see I’ve saved this letter which is the best I ever wrote you (for I burnt the rest) & posted it in Town. For Rome being so uncertain a Post I thought `better wait till I get to Town’; & send it properly . . .

  I am just going now on an expedition to search for a little cottage somewhere in Kent or Sussex where I may henceforth dwell & endeavour to gather a little moss . . .

  However if I do succeed in getting my cottage in Kent remember there will be a room for you there, & as much as ever you can eat & drink . . .

  I met [James] Spedding the other day & had much talk with him but nothing real-but he is a good man & in expression like your Alcott. He is now bringing out his Bacon the work of his whole life. Farewell

Ever yrs
Thos Chol.ley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 466-67)
23 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—See two yellow-spotted tortoises in the ditch south of Trillium Wood . You saunter expectant in the mild air along the soft edge of a ditch filled with melted snow and paved with leaves, in some slucltered place, yet perhaps with some ice at one end still, and are thrilled to see stirring amid the leaves at the bottom, sluggishly burying themselves from your sight again, these brilliantly spotted creatures . . .  I have not yet known a friendship to cease, I think. I fear I experienced its decaying. Morning, noon, and night, I suffer a physical pain, an aching of the breast which unfits me for my tasks. It is perhaps most intense at evening. With respect to Friendship I feel like a wreck that is driving before the gale, with a crew suffering from hunger and thirst, not knowing what shore, if any, they may reach, so long have I breasted the conflicting waves of this sentiment, my seams open, my timbers laid bare. I float on Friendship’s sea simply because my specific gravity is less than its, but no longer that stanch and graceful vessel that careered so buoyantly over it . . .

(Journal, 9:276-8)

Bellvale, NY. John Burt writes to Thoreau:

Dear Sir,  If I was in a Lyceum Lecture Committee I would use my greatest efforts to engage you to deliver a Lecture as I perceive your name in among a list published a short time since. But as I do not occupy any such influential position in this Community I suppose I will have to forgo for the present a long cherished wish to see and hear you. To compensate for this deprivation I would most respectfully solicit your Autograph.

I have read your Hermit Life and also a very appropriate Fourth of July Oration on Slavery in Massachusetts. To say that I greatly admired both would be but an inadequate expression.

A compliance with the above request will be gratefully remembered by

Yours Truly
John Burt
Bellvale Orange Co N.Y.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 468)
24 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fine spring morning. The ground is almost completely bare again. There has been a frost in the night. Now, at 8.30, it is melted and wets my feet like a dew. The water on the meadow this still, bright morning is smooth as in April. I am surprised to hear the strain of a song sparrow from the riverside, and as I cross from the causeway to the hill, thinking of the bluebird, I that instant hear one’s note from deep in the softened air . . .

  If I should make the least concession, my friend would spurn me. I am obeying his law as well as my own.

  Where is the actual friend you love? Ask from what hill the rainbow’s arch springs! It adorns and crowns the earth.

  Our friends are our kindred, of our species. There are very few of our species on the globe . . .

  P.M.—To Walden . . .

(Journal, 9:278-80).
25 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear of lilac buds expanding, but have not looked at them. I go through the woods behind the Kettle place. The leaves rustle and look all dry on the ground in the woods, as if quite ready to burn. The flies buzz out of doors. Though I left my outside coat at home, this single thick one is too much. I go across the Great Fields to Peter’s, but can see no ducks in the meadows . . .
(Journal, 9:280).
26 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cold and windy. The river fast going down. Paint the bottom of my boat . . . (Journal, 9:281).

Thoreau replies to John Burt’s 23 February request for an autograph:

  ”Herein is the tragedy; that men doing outrage to their proper natures, even those called wise & good, lend themselves to perform the office of inferior and brutal ones. Hence come war and slavery in; and what else may not come in by this opening?”

  A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers-p 137.

  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 469; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 136)

New York. Amos Bronson Alcott writes to his wife:

  Call again and find Rowse, whose portraits please me, for their fineness and delicacy. He has taken Henry Thoreau, but made a gentleman of him, which is no improvement plainly on Silenus; “gentle boy” though there be in the whistle of him some where, and apparently in the memory—, after he leaves the parlour often (ABAL, 234).
27 February 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Before I opened the window this cold morning, I heard the peep of a robin, that sound so often heard in cheerless or else rainy weather, so often heard first borne on the cutting March wind or through sleet or rain, as if its coming were premature.

  P. M.—To the Hill.

  The river has skimmed over again in many places. I see many crows on the hillside, with their sentinel on a tree . . .

(Journal, 9:281).

Ticknor & Fields of Boston requests 12 more copies of Week from Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 469).

28 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

  I see the track, apparently of a muskrat (?),—about five inches wide with very sharp and distinct trail of tail,—on the snow and thin ice over the little rill in the Miles meadow . . . (Journal, 9:282-83).

February or March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau meets John Brown and spends the afternoon talking with him (EJ, 9:81-82; Sanborn 1909, 1:101-5). [Brown was visiting Sanborn and took his noon meal at the Thoreau’s, He told Thoreau about his battle in Kansas the previous June. Emerson, returning from a lecture tour, was also introduced to Brown.]

2 March 1857. Cambridge, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At Cambridge. Very gusty day. An inch or two of snow falls,—all day about it,—and strangely blown away (Journal, 9:285)

Thoreau charges out Morton’s New English Canaan … Abstract of New England from Harvard Library (Cameron 1964, 291).

3 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Fair Haven Hill . . . The red maple sap, which I first noticed the 21st of February, is now frozen up in the auger-holes and thence down the trunk to the ground, except in one place where the hole was made in the south side of the tree . . . Skating yesterday and to-day.
(Journal, 9:285-87).
5 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Hill. See the tracks of a woodchuck in the sand-heap about the mouth of his hole, where he has cleared out his entry (Journal, 9:287-8).
8 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Hill.

  When I cut a white pine twig the crystalline sap in-stantly exudes. How long has it been thus? Get a glimpse of a hawk, the first of the season. The tree sparrows sing a little on this still sheltered and sunny side of the hill,but not elsewhere.

(Journal, 9:288).
11 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see and talk with [William] Rice, sawing off the ends of clapboards which he has planed, to make them square, for an addition to his house. He has got a fire in his shop, and plays at house-building there. His life is poetic. He does the work himself . . . Though he lived in a city, he would still be natural and related to primitive nature around him.
(Journal, 9:289)
12 March 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Hill.

  Observe the waxwork twining about the smooth sumach. It winds against the sun. It is at first loose about the stem, but this ere long expands to and overgrows it. Observed the track of a squirrel in the snow under one, of the apple trees on the southeast side of the hill, and, looking up, saw a red squirrel with a nut or piece of frozen apple (?) in his mouth . . .

(Journal, 9:289-90)
13 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Captain E. P. Dorr of Buffalo tells me that there is a rise and fall daily of the [Great] lakes about two or three inches, not accounted for. A difference between the lakes and sea is that when there is no wind the former are quite smooth . . . (Journal, 290-1).
14 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A warmer day at last. It has been steadily cold and windy, with repeated light snows, since February 26th came in. This afternoon is comparatively warm, and the few signs of spring are more reliable . . . (Journal, 9:292).
15 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Hubbard’s Close and Walden (Journal, 9:293-4).
16 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Cambridge and Boston (Journal, 9:295).

Thoreau borrows Grey’s Memoria Technica; New Method of Artificial Memory from Harvard Library (Cameron 1964, 291).

On or near this date, Thoreau wrote to [Thomas] Cholmondeley to tell him that he cannot find the catalog [Thomas] Cholmondeley speaks of, but tells him that he might look at Obadia Rich’s Bibliothecae America Nova published in London (MS letter, NNPM).

17 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  These days, beginning with the 14th, more springlike. Last night it rained a little, carrying off nearly all the little snow that remained, but this morning it is fair, and I hear the note of the woodpecker on the elms (that early note) and the bluebird again. Launch my boat.

  No mortal is alert enough to be present at the first dawn of the spring, but lie will presently discover some evidence that vegetation had awaked some days at least before . . .

(Journal, 9:295-6).
18 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  9 A.M.—Up Assabet.

  A still and warm but overcast morning, threatening rain. I now again hear the song sparrow’s tinkle along the riverside, probably to be heard for a day or two, and a robin, which also has been heard a day or two. The ground is almost completely bare, and but little ice forms at night along the riverside.

  I meet Goodwin paddling up the still, dark river on his first voyage to Fair Haven for the season, looking for muskrats and from time to time picking up driftwood—logs and boards, etc.—out of the water and laying it up to dry on the bank, to eke out his wood-pile with . . .

(Journal, 9:296-8)
19 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [O]bserved yesterday a dead shiner by the riverside, and to-day the first sucker (Journal, 9:298).
20 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Dine with Agassiz at R.W.E.’s. He thinks that lie suckers die of asphyxia, having very large air-bladders and being in the habit of coining to the surface for air. But then, he is thinking of a different phenomenon from the one I speak of, which last is confined to the very earliest spring or winter . . .
(Journal, 9:298-9)
24 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle up Assabet.

  The water is fast going down. See a small waterbug. It is pretty still and warm. As I round the Island rock, a striped squirrel that was out [on] the steel) polypody rock scampered up with a chuckle . . .

(Journal, 9:299-301)
26 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Walden an Fair Haven . . . As I come out of the Spring Woods I see Abiel Wheeler planting peas and covering them up on his warm sandy hillside, in the hollow next the woods (Journal, 9:301-4).
27 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There is no snow now visible front my window, except on the heel of a bank in the swallowhole behind Dennis’s. A sunny day, but rather cold air.

  8.30 A.M.—Up Assabet in boat.

  At last I push myself gently through the smooth and sunny water, sheltered by the Island woods and hill, where I listen for birds, etc. There I may expect to hear a woodpecker tapping the rotten aspen tree. There I pause to hear the faint voice of some early bird amid the twigs of the still wood-side. You are pretty sure to bear a woodpecker early in the morning over these still waters. But now chiefly there comes borne on the breeze the tinkle of the song sparrow along the riverside, and I push out into wind and current. Leave the boat and run down to the white maples by the bridge . . .
(Journal, 9:304-7).

28 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8.30 A.M.—Up river to Fair Haven by boat.

  A pleasant morning; the song of the earliest birds, i.e. tree sparrows, (now decidedly) and song sparrows and bluebirds, in the air. A red-wing’s gurgle from a willow . . .

(Journal, 9:307-11)

Thoreau writes to Ricketson:

Friend Ricketson,-

  If it chances to be perfectly agreeable and convenient to you, I
will make you a visit next week, say Wednesday or Thursday, and we
will have some more rides to Assawampset and the seashore . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 470)
29 March 1857.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Walden and river.

  Walden open, say to-day, though there is still a little ice in the deep southern bay and a very narrow edging along the southern shore.

  Cross through the woods to my boat under Fair Haven Hill. How empty and silent the woods now, before the leaves have put forth or thrushes and warblers are come! . . .

(Journal, 9:311-2)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau,—

  I have just received your note of the 28th at my brother’s, and hasten a reply for the Post Office before I leave for Brooklawn.

  Nothing would give me more pleasure than a visit from you at any time. It will be perfectly agreeable to myself and family at this present time, and I shall duly expect you on Wednesday or Thursday. Should this reach you in time for an answer, I will be at Tarkiln Hill station to meet you; if not, make your appearance as early as you wish . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 471)
30 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land that his father bought from Julius M. Smith (Moss, 11; MS of plan for the lot, NNPM).

31 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A very pleasant day. Spent a part of it in the garden preparing to set out fruit trees. It is agreeable once more to put a spade into the warm mould . . .

  P.M.—To Hill.

  As I rise the east side of the Hill, I hear the distant faint peep of hylodes and the tut tut of croaking frogs from the west of the Hill . . .

  An Irishman is digging a ditch for a foundation wall to a new shop where James Adams shop stood. He tells me that he dug up three cannon-balls just in the rear of the shop lying within a foot of each other and about eighteen inches beneath the surface . . .

(Journal, 9:312-4)

Thoreau plots a cemetery lot for Louis A. Surrette (Moss, 11).

1 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—Up Assabet.
See an Emys guttata sunning on the forgotten whether I ever saw it in this river. Hear a phoebe, and this morning the tree sparrows sing very sweetly about Keyes’s arbor-vitae and Cheney’s pines and apple trees . . .
(Journal, 9:315).

Thoreau writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Dear Ricketson,  

  I got your note of welcome night before last. Channing is not here, at least I have not seen nor heard of him, but depend on meeting him in New Bedford. I expect if the weather is favorable, to take the 4 :30 train from Boston tomorrow, Thursday, pm—for I hear of no noon train, and shall be glad to find your wagon at Tarkiln Hill . . . (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 472-73).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Spend the day at home with Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott; I find him a genial, highly gifted man. H. D. Thoreau arrived to-night from Concord; met him at Tarkiln Hill . . . [It is possible Ricketson is in error about the date of Thoreau’s arrival, considering Thoreau’s 1 April letter.] (Ricketson, 300).
2 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Go to New Bedford.

  A great change in the weather. I set out apple trees yesterday, but in the night it was very cold, with snow, which is now several inches deep. On the sidewalk in Cambridge I see a toad, which apparently hopped out from under a fence last evening, frozen quite hard in a sitting posture. Carried it into Boston in my pocket, but could not thaw it into life . . .

(Journal, 9:315).

Amos Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Henry Thoreau comes to tea. Also [William] Ellery Channing . . . and all talk till into the evening late . . . (ABAJ, 298).
3 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In [Daniel] Ricketson’s shanty. [Daniel] R[icketson]. has seen white-bellied swallows more than a week. I walk down the side of the river and see Walton’s ice-boat left on the bank.

  Hear [Daniel] R[icketson]. describing to Alcott his bachelor uncle James Thornton. When he awakes in the morning he lights the fire in his stove (all prepared) with a match on the end of a stick, without getting up. When he gets up he first attends to his ablutions, being personally very clean, cuts off a head of tobacco to clean his teeth with, eats a hearty breakfast, sometimes, it was said, even buttering his sausages. Then he goes to a relative’s store and reads the Tribune till dinner, sitting in a corner with his back to those who enter. Goes to his boarding-house and dines, eats an apple or two, then in the afternoon frequently goes about the solution of some mathematical problem (having once been a schoolmaster), which often employs him a week.

(Journal, 9:316-17).

Amos Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  A.M. In house and shanty, Thoreau and [Daniel] Ricketson treating of nature and the wild. Thoreau has visited R. before and won him as a disciple, though not in the absolute way he has [Harrison Gray Otis] Blake if Worcester, whose love for his genius partakes of the exceeding tenderness of women, and is a pure Platonism in the fineness and delicacy of the devotee’s sensibilities. But [Daniel] R[icketson]. is himself, and plays the manly part in the matter, defending himself against the master’s twistiness and tough ‘thoroughcraft’ with spirit and ability.
(ABAJ, 298)

Ricketson also writes in his journal:

  Spent the day at home, in the Shanty during the forenoon with Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott and Thoreau talked on high themes, rather religious. Alcott walked to town this P.M. Thoreau and I walked as far as Woodlee with him, parted, and we crossed to the railroad and so up to Tarkiln Hill, and through the woods thence home. [William Ellery] Channing and [Amos Bronson]Alcott walked up from town together to tea.
(Ricketson, 300)
4 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walk down the shore of the river.  A Dutchman pushes out in his skiff after quahogs . . . [Daniel] R[icketson. tells me that he found dead in his piazza the south side of his house, the 23rd of last January, the snow being very deep and the thermometer -12° at sunrise, a warbler, which he sent to Brewer . . .
(Journal, 9:317).
5 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Arthur R[icketson]. has been decking a new Vineyard boat which he has bought, and making a curb about the open part . . . Walked round by the ruins of the factory . . . (Journal, 9:318).
6 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To New Bedford Library. Mr. Ingraham, the librarian, says that he once saw frog-spawn in New Bedford the 4th of March. Take out Emmon’s Report on the insects injurious to vegetation in New York . . . (Journal, 9:319).
7 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Tuesday. Went to walk in the woods. When I had got half  a mile or more away in the woods alone, and was sitting on a rock, was surprised to be joined by [Daniel] R[icketson].’s large Newfoundland dog, Ranger, who had smelled me out and so tracked me. Would that I could add his woodcraft to my own . . . At sundown I went out to gather bayberries to make tallow of . . .
(Journal, 9:320-1)

From Woodlawn, New Bedford,  Amos Bronson Alcott writes to his wife:

  [William Ellery] Channing also passed the Sunday, and seems saner, & sounder than heretofore when Hillside and its inmates knew him and his caprices untold, if not unendurable . . . I know not whether he is the more solitary than others; no more so perhaps than Thoreau, whom Nature would marry if he would once consent to the nuptials; but the cold coy Boy will not listen it seems, still Adam still aloof naming his beasts and birds, his earliest flowers and friends; feeling, yet not finding himself alone without his Eve building from his side to animate and humanize the wilderness of his Paradise which without woman is solitary and desolate—the unbreasted Sphynx, weather—and way-sore, and a peril.—For nature, unless wooed and won through womanly love, is ever the fanged Dragon to snap up the mortal man or woman drawn toward her by the brute affections, these never solving life’s riddles.—But of this Gemini- of Thoreau and [William Ellery] Channing—for this present, more than enough of them and their significance here for you . . .
(ABAL, 240)

Chicago, Illinois. Benjamin B. Wiley writes to Thoreau:

Mr Thoreau

  In January I was in Providence a short time and had a walls with Newcomb at Narragansett Bay. Since you heard from me I have learned more of him . . .

  If it be not unfair to ask an author what he means I would inquire
what I am to understand when in your list of employments given in Walden you say “I long ago lost a hound a bay-horse and a turtle-dove.” If I transgress let the question pass unnoticed.

  For myself I make fictitious employments. I am not satisfied with much that I do. Exultingly should I hail that wherein I could give exercise to my best powers for an end of unquestionable value . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 473-75)
8 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I discovered one convenient use the bayberries served, that if you got your hands pitched in pine woods, you had only rub a parcel of these berries between your hands to start the pitch off. Arthur [Ricketson] said the shoemakers at the Head of the River used to the tallow to rub the soles of their shoes with to make them shine. I gathered a quart in bout twenty minutes with my hands . . .
(Journal, 9:321)

Daniel Ricketson also writes in his journal:

  Clear and fine, spent the day at home. Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott dined at B. Rodman’s. Thoreau made some bayberry tallow in the shanty; walked with him to the rocky cliff beyond Acushnet . . .(Ricketson, 300).
9 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes about watching fishermen in New Bedford:

  A.M.—To the cove south of the town. See them haul two seines. They caught chiefly alewives, from sixty to a hundred at a haul, seine twelve to fifteen feet wide . . . Picked up many handsome scallop shells beyond the ice-houses . . . (Journal, 9:321-2).

Daniel Ricketson also writes in his journal:

  Unsettled. In town with Thoreau. Walton and Thoreau walked around the beach and the west side of Clark’s Cove. Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott’s first conversation at Mrs. Arnold’s this evening; attended with the children, Mr. A[mos Bronson Alcott]. riding with us. Subject, ‘Descent.’ a successful opening . . . (Ricketson. 300).

10 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain. D[aniel]. R[icketson].’s shanty is about half a dozen rods southwest of his house (which may be forty rods from the road), nearly between his house and barn; is twelve by fourteen feet, with seven foot posts, with common pent-roof . . . (Journal, 9:322-5).
11 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 P.M.—Went to the Head of the River to see them catch smelts. The water there is fresh when the tide is out. They use nets five or six feet square, stretched from the ends of crossed semicircular hoops, at the ends of poles about twelve feet long. The net bags down when raised. There were twenty or thirty fishermen standing close together, half on cash side of the narrow river, each managing one of these nets . . .
(Journal, 9:325-7)
13 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Middleborough ponds. There was no boat on Little Quitticus; so we could not explore it. Set out to walk round it, but, the water being high,—higher than anciently even, on account of dams,—we had to go round a swamp at the south end, about Joe’s Rocks, and [Daniel] R[icketson]. gave it up. I went to Long Pond and waited for him . . .
(Journal, 9:327-30)

Amos Bronson Alcott writes to his wife:

  Thoreau has taken my host away to Middleborough Pond for the day but brings him home to supper, and this evening’s conversation at Charles W. Morgans in town . . . (ABAL, 242).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Rode to Quitticus Pond with Thoreau, also visited Long Pond, and took our dinner to the old Brady house. Channing came up to tea. Attended third conversation of Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott at C[harles]. W. Morgan’s this evening, the subject, “Diet and Health.” Owing to some supposed disrespect for Christianity and the customs of the Quakers, some members of the society left, although I think from what I know of Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott if they had remained through his course they would have been better satisfied.
(Ricketson, 300-301)

In Concord, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to James Elliot Cabot about books possibly available for the Boston Athenaeum Library:

  My list was so short that it did not seem worth bringing to you. I had marked down some important books, which, on new examination, I found had been added to the library . . . Thoreau has the Upanishads, which English [Thomas] Cholmondeley gave to him. Tis as inestimable little book,—good enough to make me hesitate to put it in the library . . .
(EL, 5: 70-71)
14 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains all day (Journal, 9: 330).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  In the Shanty and house conversing on high themes with Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott and Thoreau. Walked as far as the blacksmith’s shop (Terry’s) just at night. Talk after tea on races, &c. Dull for want of sleep (Ricketson, 301).
15 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Leave New Bedford.

  I had been surprised to find the season more backward, i.e. the vegetation, in New Bedford than in Concord. I could find no alder and willow and hazel catkins and no caltha and saxifrage so forward as in Concord. The ground was a uniform russet when I left, but when I had come twenty miles it was visibly greener, and the greenness steadily increased all the way to Boston. Coming to Boston, and also to Concord, was like coming from early spring to early summer. It was as if a fortnight at least had elapsed. Yet NeNv Bedford is much warmer in the winter. Why is it more backward than Concord? . . .

(Journal, 9:330-1)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  H[enry]. D[avid]. Thoreau and myself left home at 6 A.M. for Tarkiln Hill, but the cars not stopping long enough for him to get on board, he was left and returned home with me. Rode to the depot with him at 10 1/2 A.M. (Ricketson, 301).

16 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At Concord. Get birch sap,—two bottles yellow birch and five of black birch, now running freely, though not before I left Concord . . . (Journal, 9:331-2).
17 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain. It rains about every other day now for a fortnight past (Journal, 9:332).

Thoreau writes to Harrison Gray Otis Blake:

Mr Blake,

  I returned from New Bedford night before last. I met Alcott there & learned from him that probably you had gone to Concord. I am very sorry that I missed you I bad expected you earlier, & at last thought that I should get back before you came, but I ought to have notified you of my absence. However, it would have been too late, after I had made up my mind to go. I hope you lost nothing by going a little round . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 476-477)
18 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M—To Conantum. Hear the huckleberry-bird, also the seringo. The beaked hazel, if that is one just below the little pine at Blackberry Sleep . . . (Journal, 9:332).
20 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Arbor-vitae apparently in full bloom (Journal, 9:332).
21 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. [Eben] Loomis writes me that he saw two barn swallows in Cambridge April 1st! I have Corema Conradii from Plymouth, in bloom.

  It snows hard all day. If it did not melt so fast, would be a foot deep . . . (Journal, 9:332).

22 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Fair again. To Sudbury Meadow by boat. The river higher than before and rising. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. and I sail rapidly before a strong northerly wind,—no need of rowing upward, only of steering,—cutting off great bends by crossing the meadows. We have to roll our boat over the road at the stone bridge, Hubbard’s causeway, (to save the wind), and at Pole Brook (to save distance) . . .

(Journal, 9:332-5)
23 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I saw at [Daniel] Ricketson’s a young woman, Miss Kate Brady, twenty years old, her father an Irishman, a worthless fellow, her mother a smart Yankee. The daughter formerly did sewing, but  now keeps school for a livelihood. She was born at the Brady house, I think in Freetown, where she lived til she was twelve years old and helped her father in the field. There she road horse to plow and was knocked off the horse by apple tree boughs, kept sheep, caught fish, etc., etc. I never heard a girl or woman express so strong a love for nature. She purposes to return to that lonely ruin, and dwell there alone, since her mother and sister will not accompany her; says that she knows all about farming and keeping sheep and spinning and weaving, though it would puzzle her to shingle the old house. There she thinks she can “live free.” I was pleased to hear of her plans, because they were quite cheerful and original, not professedly reformatory, but growing out of her love for “Squire’s Brook and the Middleborough ponds.” A strong love for outward nature is singularly rare among both men and women. The scenery immediately about her homestead is quite ordinary, yet she appreciates and can use that part of the universe as no other being can. Her own sex, so tamely bred, only jeer at her for entertaining such an idea, but she has a strong head and a love for good reading, which may carry her through. I would by no means discourage, nor yet particularly encourage her, for I would have her so strong as to succeed in spite of all ordinary discouragements . . .
(Journal, 9:335-8)
24 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sail to Ball’s Hill.

  The water is at its height, higher than before this year. I see a few shad-flies on its surface. Scudding over the Great Meadows, I see the now red crescents of the red Ina.ples in their prime round about . . .

(Journal, 9:338)

Thoreau also surveys a pasture for John Keyes (Moss, 9).

25 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M. Down Turnpike to Smith’s Hill and return by Goose Pond.

  Saw a large old hollow log with the tipper side [gone], which [made] me doubt if it was riot a trough open at the ends, and suggested that the first trough was perhaps such a hollow log with one side split off and the ends closed.

  It is cool and windy this afternoon. Some sleet falls, but as we sit on the east side of Smith’s chestnut grove, the wood, though so open and leafless, makes a perfect lee for its, apparently by breaking the force of the wind . . .

(Journal, 9:339-42)
26 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [Most likely Johnny or Patrick] Riordan’s cock follows close after me while spading in the garden, and hens commonly follow the gardener and plowman, just as cowbirds the cattle in a pasture . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet to White Cedar Swamp . . . We sit on the shore at Wheeler’s fence, opposite Merriams’s.  At this season we still go seeking the sunniest, the most sheltered, and warmest place. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. says this is the warmest place he has been in this year . . .

(Journal, 9:342-4)

Thoreau writes to Benajmin B. Wiley:

Dear Sir

  I have been spending a fortnight in New Bedford, and on my return find your last letter awaiting me . . .

  How shall we account for our pursuits if they are original. We get the language with which to describe our various lives out of a common mint. If others have their losses, which they are busy repairing, so have I mine, & their hound and horse may perhaps be the symbols of some of them. But also I have lost, or am in the danger of losing, a far finer & more etherial treasure, which commonly no loss of which they are conscious will symbolize—this I answer hastily & and with some hesitation, according as I now understand my own words . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 477-8)
28 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Surveying for Willard Farrar by Walden.

  While standing by my compass over the supposed town bound beyond Wyman’s, Farrar having just gone along northeast on the town line, I saw with the side of my eye some black creature crossing the road, reminding me of a black cat two thirds grown. Turning, I saw it plainly for half a minute. It crossed to my side about twenty-five feet off, apparently not observing me, and disappeared in the goods. It was perfectly black, for aught I could see (not brown), some eighteen or twenty inches or more in length from tip to tip, and I first thought of a large black weasel, then of a large blade squirrel, then wondered if it could be a pine marten. I now try to think it a hunk; yet it appeared larger and with a shorter body . . .

(Journal, 9:346)
29 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Purple finch sings on R.W.E.’s trees.

  P.M.—To  Dugan Desert.

  At Tarbell’s watering-place, see a dandelion, its conspicuous bright-yellow disk in the midst of a green space on the moist bank. It is thus I commonly meet with the earliest dandelion set in the midst of some liquid green patch. It seems a sudden and decided progress in the season . . . Sweet fern at entrance of Ministerial Swamp. A partridge there drums incessantly. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. says it makes his heart beat with it, or he feels it in his breast . . .

(Journal, 9:347-8)
30 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Surveying for Farrar and Heywood by Walden.

  Hear a kingfisher at Goose Pond. Hear again the same bird heard at Conantum April 18th, which I think must be the ruby-crowned wren As we stood looking for a bound by the edge of Goose Pond, a pretty large hawk alighted on an oak . . .

(Journal, 9:348)
1 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  2 P.M.—First notice the ring of the toad, as I am crossing the Common in front of the meeting-house . . . Bubo the Double-chinned inflates his throat. Attend to his message. Take off your greatcoats, swains! and prepare for the summer campaign. Hop a few paces further . . . (Journal, 9:349-50).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal on May 2 regarding his activities with Thoreau on May 1:

  Walk yesterday, first day of May, with Henry Thoreau to Goose Pond, and to ‘Red Chokeberry Lane’ . . . From a white birch, Henry cut a strip of bark to show how a naturalist would make the best box to carry a plant or other specimen requiring care, and thought the woodman would make a better hat of birch-bark than of felt,—hat, with cockade of lichens thrown in. I told him the Birkebeiners of the Heimskringla had been before him. We will make a book on walking, ’tis certain, and have easy lessons for beginners. ‘Walking in ten Lessons.’
(EJ, 9:91-92)
2 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Building a fence between us and Mrs. Richardson. In digging the holes I find the roots of small apple trees, seven or eight feet distant and four or more inches in diameter, two feet underground, and as big as my little finger . . . (Journal, 9:350-1).
3 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A remarkably warm and pleasant morning.

  A.M.—To Battle-Ground by river.

  I heard the ring of toads at 6 A. M. The flood on the meadows, still high, is quite smooth, and many are out this still and suddenly very warm morning, pushing about in boats. Now, thinks many a one, is the time to paddle or push gently far up or down the river, along the still, warm meadow’s edge, and perhaps we may see some large turtles, or muskrats, or otter, or rare fish or fowl. It will be a grand forenoon for a cruise, to explore these meadow shores and inundated maple swamps . . .

(Journal, 9:351-353)
4 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain. The barber tells me that the masons of New York tell him that they would prefer human hair to that of cattle mix with their plastering.

  Balm-of-Gilead pollen in house to-day; outdoors, say to-morrow, if fair.

  Minott tells me of one Matthias Bowers, a native of Chelmsford and cousin of C. Bowers, a very active fellow, who used to sleep with him and when he found the door locked would climb over tlne roof and come in at the dormer-window . . .

(Journal, 9:356-7)
5 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Building fence east of house.

 Hear the tull-lull of a myrtle-bird . . . (Journal, 9:357).

6 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A beautiful and warm day. I go to build an arbor for R[alph].W[aldo].E[merson] (Journal, 9:357).
7 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A second fine day. Small pewee, and methinks, a golden robin? (Journal, 9:358).
8 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A third fine day. The sugar maple at Barrett’s is now in full bloom. I finish the arbor to-night . . . Walk to first stone bridge at sunset . . . such an evening makes a crisis in the year. I must make haste home and go out on the water. I paddle to the Wheeler meadow east of hill after sundown . . . Within a week I have had made a pair of corduroy pants, which cost when done $1.60. They are of that peculiar clay-color, reflecting the light from portions of their surface.  They have this advantage, that, besides being very strong, they will look about as well three months hence as now,—or as ill, some would say. Most of my friends are disturbed by my wearing them . . .
(Journal, 9:358-60)
10 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cultivated cherry out.

  P.M.—Up river.

  Salix Babylonica behind Dodd’s, how long? Say with S. alba. I observe that the fertile flowers of many plants are more late than the barren ones . . .

  I went looking for snapping turtles over the meadow south of railroad. Now I see one large head like a, brown stake projecting three or four inches above the water four rods off, but it is slowly withdrawn, and I paddle tip and catch the fellow lying still in the dead grass there. Soon after I paddle within ten feet of one whose eyes like kncibs appear on the side of the stake, and touch him with my paddle . . .

(Journal, 9:361-2)
11 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Warbling vireo and chewink. A very cold northwest wind. I hear they had a snow storm yesterday in Vermont (Journal, 9:362).
12 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How rarely I meet with a man who can be free, even in thought! We live according to rule. Some, then are bedridden; all, world-ridden. I take my neighbor, an intellectual man, out into the woods and invite him to take a new and absolute view of things, to empty clean out of his thoughts all institutions of men and start again . . .

  To Miles Swamp, Conantum.

  The brother of Edward Garfield (after dandelions!) tells me that two years ago, when he was cutting wood at Bittern Cliff in the winter he saw something dark squatting on the ice, which he took to be a mink, and taking a stake he went out to inspect it. It turned out to be a bird, a new kind of duck, with a long, slender, pointed bill (he thought red). It moved off backwards, hissing at him . . .

(Journal, 9:362-6)
13 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Work in garden. I see a toad only an inch and a quarter long; so they must be several years growing.

  P.M.—To Leaning Hemlocks . . . (Journal, 9:368).

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Friend Ricketson

  A recent neighbor of ours, Wm. W. Wheildon, having heard that you talked somewhat of moving to Concord (for such things will leak out) has just been asking me to inform you that he will rent his house, which is a furnished one, with a garden, or sell the same, if you like them. It is a large house, the third below (East of) us on the same side of the street-was built some 20 years ago partly of old material, & since altered. The garden is a very good one, of about 2 1/2 acres, with many fruit trees &c &c. Channing can tell you about it . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 479-480)
14 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Assabet Bath and stone bridge.

  I hear two thrashers plainly singing in emulation of each other.

  At the temporary brush fence pond, now going down, amid the sprout-land and birches, I see, within a dozen rods along its shore, one to three rods from edge, thirteen wood tortoises on the grass, at 4 P.M. this cloudy afternoon. This is apparently a favorite resort for them . . .

(Journal, 9:366-8)
15 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Black current at R.W.E’s. 

  Abel Hosmer thought that the Salix alba roots might reach half a dozen rods into his field as big as your finger . . . (Journal, 9:368).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson responds to Thoreau’s May 13th letter, stating that he will visit Concord to look at the farm Thoreau mentioned (CS 8, no. 2 [June 1973]: 4).

16 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill for pines.

  The meadows are now mostly bare, the grass showing itself above the water that is left . . . (Journal, 9:368).

Thoreau replies to Daniel Ricketson’s letter, telling him that the owner of the farm wants to make an early decision regarding selling or renting the property.

17 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Round Walden.

  Gold-thread is abundantly out at Trillium Woods. The yellow birch catkins, now fully out or a little past prime, are very handsome now, numerous clusters of rich golden catkins hanging straight clown at a height from the ground on the end of the pendulous branches, amid the just expanding leaf-buds. It is like some great chandelier hung high over the underwood . . .

(Journal, 9:368-9)
18 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Bateman’s Pond via Yellow Swamp with Pratt.

  Pratt says he saw the first rhodora and cultivated pear out yesterday. Many are now setting out pines and other evergreens, transplanting some wildness into the neighborhood of their houses . . .

(Journal, 9:369-71)
19 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A. M.—Surveying D. Shattuck’s woodlot beyond Peter’s.

  See myriads of minute pollywogs, recently hatched, in the water of Moore’s Swamp on Bedford road. Digging again to find a stake in woods, came across a nest or colony of wood ants, yellowish or sand-color, a third of an inch long, with their white grubs, now squirming . . .

(Journal, 9:371-2)
20 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Began to rain the latter part of yesterday, and rains all day against all desire and expectation, raising the river and, in low land, rotting the seed. Gardeners wish that their land had not been planted nor plowed. Postpone your journey till the May storm is over.

  It has been confidently asserted and believed that if the cold in the winter exceeded a certain degree it surely killed the peach blossoms. Last winter we had greater cold than has ever been generally observed here, and yet it is a remarkable spring for peach blossoms; thus once for all disproving that assertion . . .

(Journal, 9:371-4)
21 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains still, more or less, till day. But it is -in ill wind that bloevs nobody any good; this weather is good for cuttings and transplanted trees.

  P.M.—To Hill.

  Sassafras (fertile) will apparently bloom to-morrow. These, too,—the Young trees,—have been killed the past winter, like the fever-bush.

  There is, leaning over the Assabet at the Grape Bower, an amelanchier variety Botryapium about five inches in diameter and some twenty-eight feet long, a light and graceful tree . . .

(Journal, 9:374-5)
22 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  After two or three days more of rainy weather, it is fair and warm at last. Thermometer seventy-odd degrees above zero. When the May storm is over, then the summer is fairly begun.

  9 A.M.—I go up the Assabet in boat to stone bridge.

  Is it not summer when we do not go seeking sunny and sheltered places, but also love the wind and shade?

  As I stand on the sand-bank below the Assabet stone bridge and look up through the arch, the river makes a pretty picture . . .

(Journal, 9:375-7)

23 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Holden Swamp by boat.

  River still high generally over the meadows. Can sail across the Hubbard meadow. Off Staples wood-lot, hear the ah tche tche chit-i-vet of the redstart.

  Tortoises out again abundantly. Each particularly warns and sunny day brings them out on to every floating rail and stump. I count a dozen within three or four feet on a rail It is a tortoise day . . .

(Journal, 9:376-7)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Left home at 10 A.M. for Concord, arriving there at 5 1/2/ P.M. Walked with Thoreau this evening, and called at Mr. [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s. Slept at [William Ellery] Channing’s house upon an iron bedstead (Ricketson, 302)
24 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Hill.

  White ash, apparently yesterday, at Grape Shore but not at Conantum. What a singular appearance for some weeks its great masses of dark-purple anthers have made, fruit-like on the trees!

  A very warm morning. Now the birds sing more than ever, methinks, now, when the leaves are fairly expanding, the first really warm summer days . . .

(Journal, 9:377-8)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Sunday fine and warm—wind light. Thermometer at 86 above zero north side of Mr. Thoreau’s house at 2 P.M. Rowed upon the river with Thoreau this afternoon. Walked up Lee’s Hill and visited the old Lee farm, the house having been lately burned The barn and henhouses are complete affairs. Dined at Mr. Thoreau’s; spent part of the P.M. in my room at [William Ellery] Channing’s houses talking with Thoreau upon various topics. Took a long walk this P.M., leaving at four and returning at seven to the cliff with Mr. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] and Mrs. [Lydian Jackson] Emerson, their two daughters, Ellen and Edith, son Edward, and my friend Thoreau; had tea and spent the remainder of the evening with the Emerson’s. Much pleased with Mrs. E.’s fine sense and sensibility as well as humanity, topics relative to which were the principal part of my conversation with her on the walk this P.M.
(Ricketson, 303)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal on 25 May about the events of 24 May:

  Yesterday at the Cliff, with a family party, and Henry Thoreau and [Daniel] Ricketson . . . At home,—Expressed some sad views of life and religion. A thunderstorm is a terror to him, and his theism is Judaical. Henry thought a new pear-tree was more to purpose, etc., but said better, that an ecstasy was never interrupted. A theology of this kind is as good a meter or yardstick as any other. If i can be scared by a highwayman or a thunderclap, I should say my performances were not very high, and should at once be mended.
(EJ, 9:94)
25 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  With Ricketson to my boat under Fair Haven Hill . . . Though the river is thus high, we bathe at Cardinal Shore and find the water unexpectedly warm and the air also delicious. Thus we are baptized into nature (Journal, 9:378-379).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  On the river with Thoreau in his boat this P.M. The excursion upon the Concord River this P.M. with Thoreau in his boat and was very pleasant, although when we started I hardly felt able to walk to the boat, which was upon the shore, some distance up the river, near Fairhaven Bay. But after a bath and swim with T. I felt much refreshed and my dull headache passed gradually off . . . Thoreau accompanied me to my room, and after a long talk upon character, &c., I retired at 10.
(Ricketson, 303-304)
26 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I have noticed that notional nervous invalids, who report to the community the exact condition of their heads and stomachs every morning, as if they alone were blessed or cursed with these parts: who are old betties and quiddles, if men; who can’t eat their breakfasts when they are ready, but play with their spoons, and hanker after ice-cream at irregular hours; who go more than half-way to meet any invalidity, and go to bed to be sick on the slightest occasion, in the middle of the brightest forenoon,— I observe that such are self-indulgent persons, without any regular or absorbing employment. They are nice, discriminating, experienced in all that relates to the bodily sensations. They come to you stroking their wens, manipulating their ulcers, and expect you to do the same for them. Their religion and humanity stick. They spend the day manipulating their bodies and doing no work; can never get their nails clean . . .
(Journal, 9:379-81)

London, England. Thomas Cholmondeley writes to tell Thoreau that he received the books Thoreau sent him.

My dear Thoreau

  I have received your four books & what is more I have read them. Olmstead was the only entire stranger. His book I think might have been shortened-& if he had indeed written only one word instead of ten-I should have liked it better . . .Of your own book I will say nothing but I will ask you a question, which perhaps may be a very ignorant one. I have observed a few lines about [sentence unfinished].

  Now there is something 1iere unlike anything else in these pages Are they absolutely your own, or whose? And afterward you shall hear what I think of them . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 480-3)
27 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear the sound of the fife and drum the other side of the village, and am reminded that it is May Training. Some thirty young men are marching in the streets in two straight sections, with each a very heavy and warm cap for the season on his head and a bright red stripe down the edge of his pantaloons, and at their head march two with white stripes down their pants, one beating a drum, the other blowing a fife.
(Journal, 9:381-3)
28 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain again in the night, and this afternoon, more or less. In some places the ground is strewn with apple blossoms, quite concealing it, as white and thick as if a snow-storm had occurred (Journal, 9:383)
29 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

A fine-grained air, June-like, after a cloudy rain threatening or rainy morning. Sufficient [sic] with a still, clear air in which the hum of insects is heard, and the sunniness contrasts with the shadows of the freshly expanded foliage, lilac the glances of an eye from under the dark eyelashes of June. The grass is not yet dry. The birds sing more lively than ever now after the rain, though it is only 2 P.M. . . .

(Journal, 9:383-90)
30 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To chestnut oaks.

  I think that there are many chestnut-sided warblers this season. They are pretty tame. One sits within six feet of me, though not still. He is much painted up . . .

Perhaps I could write mediation under a rock in a shower. When first I had sheltered myself under the rock, I began at once to look out on the pond with new eyes, as from my house. I was at Lee’s Cliff as I had never been there before, had taken up my residence there, as it were. Ordinarily we make haste away from all opportunities to be where we have instinctively endeavored to get. When the storm was over where I was, and only a few thin drops were falling around me, I plainly saw the rear of the rain withdrawing over the Lincoln woods south of the pond, and, above all, heard the grand rushing sound made by the rain falling on the freshly green forest, a very different sound when thus heard at a distance from what it is when we are in the midst of it . . .

  I sang “Tom Bowling” there in the midst of the rain and the dampness seemed to be favorable to my voice. There was a slight rainbow on my way home . . .

(Journal, 9:391-3)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  Walk this afternoon with Henry Thoreau . . . Henry thinks that planting acres of barren sand by running a furrow every four feet across the field, with a plough, and following it with a planter, supplied with pine seed, would be lucrative. He proposes to plant my Wyman lot so. Go in September, and gather white-pine cones with a hook at the end of a long pole, and let them dry and open in a chamber at home. Add acorns, and birch-seed, and pitch-pines. He thinks it would be profitable to buy cheap land and plant it so . . .
(EJ, 9:96-97)
31 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Gowing’s Swamp and to Pinus resinosa.

  In the ditches in Moore’s Swamp on the new Bedford road, the myriads of pollywogs, now three quarters of an inch long, crowding close to the edge, make a continuous black edging to the pool a foot wide . . . (Journal, 9:393-5).

1 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “P.M. To Hill. The weather has been less reliable for a few weeks past than at any other season of the year.” (Journal, 9: 396)

2 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau “drove this afternoon to Painted-Cup Meadow.” (Journal, 9: 399)

3 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I have several friends and acquaintances who are very good companions in the house or for an afternoon walk, but whom I cannot make up my mind to make a longer excursion with;  for I discover, all at once, that they are too gentlemanly in manners, dress, and all their habits. I see in my mind’s eye that they wear black coats, considerable starched linen, glossy hats and shoes, and it is out of the question… It would be too much of a circumstance to enter a strange town or house with such a companion. You could not travel incognito; you might get into the papers. You should travel as a common man. If such a one were to set out to make a walking-journey, he would betray himself at every step…Sometimes it is near shiftlessness or want of originality,  the clothes wear them; sometimes it is egotism, that cannot afford to be treated like a common man, they wear the clothes. They wish to be at least fully appreciated by every stage-driver and schoolboy. They would like well enough to see a new place, perhaps, but then they would like to be regarded as important public personages. They would consider it a misfortune if their names were left of the published list of passengers because they came in the steerage, — and obscurity from which they might never emerge (Journal,9: 400-401).

4 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels to “Bare Hill” (Journal, 9: 402) and is paid $3.00 by Ralph Waldo Emerson for working on his arbor (EAB).

5 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, ” To Gowing’s Swamp and Poplar Hill… At evening, travel up Assabet. There are many ephemerae [mayflies] in the air; but it is cool, and their great fight is not yet.” (Journal, 9:404-406)

6 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the morning Thoreau travels “To Lee’s Cliff by river.” (Journal,9:406)

Thoreau also writes to Harrison Gray Otis Blake to inform him that he is traveling to Cape Cod with William Ellery Channing the following week and that he will not be able to see Blake until he returns from his trip.

On 9 June Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal regarding the events of 6 June: “On Sunday on our walk along the river-bank, the air full of ephemerides [mayflies], which Henry celebrates as the manna of the fishes” (EJ, 9:100).

7 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To river and Ponkawtasset with M[inot]. Pratt” (Journal, 9:409)

8 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Mother was saying to-day that she bough no new clothes for John until he went away into a store, but made them of his father’s old clothes, which made me say that country boys could get enough cloth for their clothes by robbing the scarecrows. So little it need cost to live (Journal, 9:410).

9 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the evening Thoreau travels to “Violet Sorrel and Calla Swamp” (Journal, 9:410).

10 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “At R[alph]. W[aldo]. E[merson].’s a viburnum, apparently nudum var. cassinoides (?) (pyrifolium Pursh), four or five days at least….P.M. To White Cedar Swamp” (Journal, 9:412).

12 June. Cape Cod, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Friday. 8:30 A.M. Set out for CAPE COD… At Natural History Rooms…P.M.At [Benjamin Marston] Watson’s, Plymouth” (Journal, 9:413-414)

13 June. Plymouth, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I see large mosses on the beach, crimson and lighter, already spread on the sand. See children going a-flagging and returning with large bundles, for the sake of the inmost tender blade. They go miles for them here (Journal, 9:415).

14 June. Clark’s Island and PLymouth, Mass. 1857.

The Watson’s regale Thoreau with tales from Plymouth. Thoreau writes in his journal:

B[enjamin]. M[arston]. Watson tells me that he learns from pretty good authority that Webster once saw the sea-serpent. It seems it was first seen, in the bay between Manomet and Plymouth Beach, by a perfectly reliable witness (many years ago), who was accustomed to look out on the sea with his glass every morning the first thing as regularly as he ate his breakfast. One morning he saw this monster, with a head somewhat like a horse’s raise six feet above the water, and his body the size of a cask trailing behind. He was careering over the bay, chasing the mackerel, which ran ashore in their fright and were washed up and died in great numbers (Journal, 9:415-417).

Benjamin Marston Watson’s daughter, Ellen, wrote of Thoreau’s travel to Clark’s Island:

          When Thoreau was a young man, he visited Plymouth and Duxbury, and as enthusiastic pedestrians never tire of walking, he attempted to continue his stroll around Captain’s Hill to the north shore of Clark’s Island. When the tide is at its lowest ebb, this does not look so impossible! The sand flats even invite one to pace their shining surface! The channel looks narrow enough to be jumped across, and the three miles, which at high tide are a foaming sea, or a level blue sheet of water, looked but a short stretch to traverse.

Mr. Thoreau gauged everything by his beloved Concord River there an island could be waded to; here was evidently an island let us wade over there! But there are island and islands, channels and channels! And a rising tide on a flat in Plymouth Harbour is a swift river, full of danger.

Fortunately for our Concord guest, a small fishing boat was on hand just at the nick of time to save him for his task of writing many volumes for the future joy of all lovers of nature! The skipper landed him at the North End the back door of the island, so to speak, and here was greeted by the “lord of the isle,” known to all his friends as “Uncle Ed,” Edward Winslow Watson, and a worthy representative of the Pilgrims who spent their first Sunday on this island.

Bluff and hearty was his welcome, and his first question was, “Where d’ye hail from?” Mr. Thoreau, fresh from the rescue, must have been breathless from climbing the cliffs and overcome with the mighty clap on his slender back that welcomed his answer. “From Concord, Sir, my name is Thoreau,” with “You don’t say so!” I’ve read somewhere in one of your books that you ‘lost a hound, a horse, and a dove.’ Now what do you mean by it?”

Mr. Thoreau looked up with shy, dark blue eyes, as someone said he looked like a wild woodchuck ready to run back to his hole, and he was very ruddy of complexion, with reddish brown hair and wore a greatcoat he looked up then in shy astonishment at this breezy, broad-shouldered, white-haired sea farmer, reader of his books. “Well, Sir, I suppose we have all had our loses.” “That’s a pretty way to answer a fellow,” replied the unsatisfied student of a fellow-poet and lover of nature (TSB, no. 21)

15 June. Plymouth, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Walked to James Spooner’s farm in a valley amid the woods; also to a swamp where white cedars once grew, not far behind the town, and now full of their buried trunks, though I hear no tradition of trees here… 2 P.M.—Ride to Manomet with [Benjamin Marston] Watson and wife (Journal, 9:420).

16 June. Manomet, Mass. 1857

Thoreau writes, “I go along the sandy road through a region of small hills about half a mile from the sea, between slight gray fences… within half a mile I come to the house of an Indian, a gray one-storied cottage” (Journal, 9:425)

Thoreau walks extensively around the small villages and towns of Cape Cod on this day.

17 June. Harwich, Mass. 1857

Thoreau writes in his journal:

This beach seems to be laid down too long on the map. The sea never runs very much here, since the shore is protected from the swell by Monomoy…I go along the settled road, where the houses are interspersed with woods, in an unaccountably desponding mood, but when I come out upon a bare and solitary heath am at once exhilarated. This is a common experience in my traveling. I plod along, thinking what a miserable world this is and what miserable fellows that we inhabit it, wondering what tempts men to live in it; but anon I leave the towns behind and am lost in some boundless heath, and life becomes gradually more tolerable, if not even glorious (Journal, 9:431-432).

18 June. Cape Cod, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

From Traveller’s home to Small’s in Truro. A muzzling and rainy day with thick driving fog; a drizzling rain, or “drisk,” as one called it. I struck across into the stage-road, a quarter of a mile east, and followed that a mile or more into an extensive bare plain tract called Silver Springs, in the southwest part of Wellfleet…I had shortly before picked up a Mother-Carey’s-chicken, which was just washed up dead on the beach. This I carried tied to the tip of my umbrella, dangling outside. When the inhabitants saw me come up from the beach this stormy day, with this emblem dangling from my umbrella, and saw me set it up in a corner carefully to be out of the way of cats, they may have taken me for a crazy man (Journal, 9:437-439)

19 June. Truro, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Fog still, but I walked about a mile north onward on the beach. The sea was still running considerably. It is surprising how rapidly the water soaks into the sand, and is even dried up between each undulation.” (Journal, 9:442)

20 June. Truro, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes extensively on this day about people he meets and things he sees while traveling. He writes,

A man working on the lighthouse, who lives at the Pond Village, says that he raised potatoes and pumpkins there where a vessel once anchored. That was when they let the saltwater into the pond… Speaking of the effect of oil on the water, this man said that a boat’s crew came ashore safely from their vessel on the Bay Side of Truro some time ago in a storm, when the wind blowed square on to the land, only by heaving over oil (Journal, 9:444-445).

21 June. Truro, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau begins to “set out for Provincetown” and details his travels along the way (Journal, 9:450-454).

22 June. Boston and Concord, Mass. 1857.

On this day Thoreau

Took the steamer Acorn about 9A.M. for Boston, in the fog. The captain said that the mate to the whale taken on the 17th had been about the steamer all night. It was a thick fog with some rain, and we saw no land nor a single sail, till near Minot’s ledge. The monotony was only relieved by the numerous petrels, those black sea-swallows, incessantly skimming over the undulating [surface], a few inches above and parallel with it, and occasionally picking some food from it. Now they dashed past our stern and now across our bows, as if we were stationary, though going at the rate of a dozen knots an hour. It is remarkable what great solitudes there may be on this bay, notwithstanding all its commerce, and going from Boston to Provincetown you might be wrecked in clear weather, without being seen by any passing vessel (Journal, 9: 454-455)

Thoreau arrives back home in Concord.

23 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Skinner, the harness-maker, tells me that he found a black duck’s nest Sunday before the last, i.e. the 14th, with perhaps a dozen eggs in it, a mere hollow on the top of a tussock, four or five feet within a clump of bushes forming an islet (in the dpring) in Hubbard’s great meadow. He scared up the duck when within a few feet… Looked for the black duck’s nest, but could find no trace of it (Journal, 9:456)

24 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels to “Farmer’s Owl-Nest Swamp” (Journal, 9:456)

25 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Most of the mountain-ash trees on the street are the European, as Prichard’s, Whiting’s, etc. The American ones (Pyrus Aucuparia is the European) in Cheney’s (from Winchendon) row have only opened within a day or two; that American one in Mrs. Hoar’s yard, apparently a week. The fruit of the European one is as large as small peas already.

P.M.— To Gowing’s Swamp (Journal, 9:460).

26 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

Stand over a bream’s nest close to the shore at Hubbard’s rear wood. At length she ventures back to it, after many approaches. The apparent young bream, hardly half an inch long, are hovering over it all the while in a little school, never offering to swim away from over that yellow sport; such is their instinct. The old one at length returns and takes up her watch beneath, but I notice no recognition of each other (Journal, 9:460).

27 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoeau travels “Up Assabet” (Journal, 9:461).

29 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau goes “Up Assabet with [H.G.O.] Blake…P.M.— Walk to Lee’s Cliff” (Journal, 9:461)

30 June. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels

To Ball’s Hill. Yesterday afternoon it was remarkably cool, with wind, it being easterly, and I anticipated a sea-turn. There was a little, a blue mistiness, ere long. The coolness continues, and this morning the sky is full of clouds, but they look to me like dog-day clouds and not rain-threatening. it does not rain (Journal, 9: 462-464).

2 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels to “Gowing’s Swamp” (Journal, 9:465)

3 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Minott says that old Joe Merriam used to tell of his shooting black ducks in the Dam meadows and what luck he had… [George] M[inott]. says that my pool in Gowing’s Swamp used to be call Duck Pond, though he does not know of ducks settling there. Perhaps they did anciently (Journal, 9: 467)

4 July. Concord, Mass. 1857

Thoreau travels “Up Assabet with Brown and Rogers” (Journal, 9:467)

5 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Lee’s Cliff by boat” (Journal, 9:468)

6 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,”Rubus triflorus well ripe. The beach plums have everywhere the crescent-shaped mark made by the curculio, — the few that remain on” (Journal, 9:471).

7 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Some of the inhabitants of the Cape think that the Cape is theirs and all occupied by them, but in my eyes it is no more theirs than it is the black-birds’, and in visiting the Cape there is hardly more need of my regarding or going through the villages than of going through the blackbirds’ nests. I am inclined to leave them both on one side, or perchance I just glance into them to see how they are built and what they contain. I know that they have spoken for the whole Cape, and lines are drawn on their maps accordingly, but I know these are imaginary, having perambulated many such, and they would have to get me or one of my craft to find them for them. For the most part, indeed with very trifling exceptions, there were no human beings there, only a few imaginary lines on a map (Journal, 9:471-472).

8 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Laurel Glen…[and later] To Gowing’s Swamp” (Journal, 9:472)

9 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the evening, Thoreau travels “Up Assabet with Sophia [Thoreau]” (Journal, 9:473).

10 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “At evening I watch to see when my yellow wasps cease working. For time before sunset there are but few seen going and coming, but for some time after, or as long as I could easily see them ten feet off, I saw one go forth and return from time to time” (Journal, 9:475).

11 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Corner Spring and Cliffs…Thermometer at 93º + this afternoon. Am surprised to find the water of Corner Spring spoiled for the present, however much I clear it out, by the numbers of dead and dying frogs in it” (Journal, 9:476).

12 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

It would be worth the while, methinks, to make a map of the town with all the good springs on it, indicating whether they were cool, perennial, copious, pleasantly located, etc. The farmer is wont to celebrate the virtues of some one on his own farm above all others. Some cool rills in the meadows should be remembered also, for some such in deep, cold, grassy meadows are as cold as springs. I have sometimes drank warm or foul water, not knowing such cold streams were at hand. By many a spring I know where to look for the dipper or glass which some mower has left. When a spring has been allowed to fill up, to be muddied by cattle, or, being exposed to the sun by cutting down the trees and bushes, to dry up, it affects me sadly, like an institution going to decay (Journal, 9:477)

13 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

The price of friendship is the total surrender of yourself; no lesser kindness, no ordinary attentions and offerings will buy it. There is forever that purchase to be made with that wealth which you possess, yet only once in a long while are you advertised of such a commodity. I sometimes awake in the night and think of friendship and its possibilities, and a new life and revelation to me, which perhaps I had not experienced for many months. Such transient thoughts have been my nearest approach to realization of it, thoughts which I know of no one to communicate to. I suddenly direct myself in my thoughts, or find myself erected, infinite degrees above the possibility of ordinary endeavors, and see for what grand stakes the game of life may be played. Men, with their indiscriminate attentions and ceremonious good-will, offer you trivial baits, which do not temp; they are not serious enough for success or failure. I wake up in the night to these higher levels of life, as to a day that begins to dawn, as if my intervening life had been a long night. I catch an echo of the great strain of Friendship played somewhere, and feel compensated for months and years of commonplace. I rise into a diviner atmosphere, in which simply to exist and breath is a triumph, and my thoughts inevitably tend toward the grand and infinite… (Journal, 9:479-480)

14 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “Up Assabet with Loomis and Wilde. Set fire to the carburetted hydrogen from the sawdust shoal with matches, and heard it flash. it must be an interesting sight by night” (Journal, 9:481)

15 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

When I enters the woods there, I was once pursued by a swarm of those wood flies which gyrate around your head and strike your hat like rain-drops. As usual, the kept up with me as I walked, and gyrated about me still, as if I were stationary, advancing at the same time and receiving reinforcements from time to time. Though I switched them smartly for a half a mile with some indigo-weed, they did not mind it in the least, nor a better switch of Salix tristis; but though I knocked many of them, they soon picked themselves up again and came on again…Apparently the same swarm followed me quite through the wood…They did not once sting, though the endeavored sometimes to alight on my face. What they got by their perseverance I do not know, — unless it were a switching (Journal, 9:481-482)

16 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Hemlocks…As I walked through the pasture side of the hill, saw a mouse or two glance before me faint galleries in the grass. They are seldom seen, for these small deer. like the larger, disappear suddenly, as if they exploded before your eyes” (Journal, 9:482)

17 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the evening Thoreau goes “To Lee’s Cliff” (Journal, 9:482)

18 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

[George] Minott says that old Sam Nutting used to pinch off the first leaves of his melon wines as soon as they had three or four leaves, because they only attracted the bugs, and he was quite successful.

George Bradford says he finds in Salem striped maple and Sambucus pubens. He (and Tuckerman?) found the Utricularia resupinata once in Plymouth, and it seems to correspond with mine at Well Meadow (Journal, 9:483-484)

19 July. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes “smooth sumach out since the 16th” (Journal, 9:484)

20 July. Boston, Mass and southern Maine. 1857.

Thoreau is traveling to Boston and from there to the woods of Maine and visits a natural history library. he details his observations at the library in his journal. (Journal, 9:484-485)

21 July. Bangor, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes, ” At Bangor. — Thatcher’s moose-horns hanging in his barn spread two feet eight inches. There is one more prong on one side than the other. This is small” (Journal, 9:485).

22 July. Bangor, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “At a mile and a half north of Bangor, passed the spot, at Treat’s Falls, where the first settler and fur trader, one Treat, lived” (Journal, 9:486).

23 July. Moosehead Lake, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

There were two public houses near together, and they wanted to detain us at the first, even took off some of our baggage in spite of us; but, on our protesting, shouted “let them go! let them go!” as if it was any of their business. Whereupon we, thanking them for the privilege, rode on…(Journal, 9:489)

24 July. Moosehead Lake, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

As we paddled along, we saw many peetweets, also the common iris or blue flag, along the rocky shore, and here and afterwards great fields of epilobium or fire-weed, a mass of color…We looked down on the unpretending buildings and grounds of the Kinco House, as on a little flat map, oblong-square at out feet….

It suggested to me how unexplored still are the realms of nature, that what we know and have seen is always an insignificant portion. We may any day take a walk as strange as Dante’s imaginary one to L’Inferno or Paradiso (Journal, 9:489-490)

25 July. Moosehead Lake, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in The Maine Woods,

At breakfast this Saturday morning, the Indian, apparently curious to know what would be expected of him the next day, whether we should go along or not, asked me how I spent Sunday when at home. I told him that I commonly sat in my chamber reading, etc., in the forenoon, and went to talk in the afternoon. At which he shook his head and said, “Er, that is ver bad.” “How do you spend it?” I asked. He said that he did no work, that he went to church at Oldtown when he was at home; in short, he did as he had been taught by the whites. This lead to a discussion on which I found myself as the minority. He stated that he was a protestant, and asked me if I was. I did not at first know what to say, but I thought that I could answer with truth that I was (The Maine Woods, 182)

26 July. Near Moosehead Lake, Maine. 1857

Thoreau writes “As we sat on the bank, two canoes, containing men, women, and children, probably from Chesuncook, returned down the stream. We supposed that they had been a-berrying this Sunday morning…

This canoe implies a long antiquity in which its manufacture has been gradually perfected. It will ere long, perhaps, be ranked among the lost arts…” (Journal, 9:495)

27 July. Near Moosehead Lake, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal: “There were some yellow lilies (Nuphar), Scutellaria gatericulata, clematis (abundant), sweet-gales, “great-smilicina” (Did I mean S. racemosa?), and beaked hazel, the only hazel I saw in Maine” (Journal, 9:494)

28 July. Lake Chamberlain, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

As I remember, Hodge mistakes when he says that it “is erroneously represented on the charts, for it extends in a north-northeasterly, south-southwesterly direction about twelve miles.” He appears to be thinking of the easterly part. On the north side there is quite a clearing, as we had been advised to ascend the bare hill there for the sake of the prospect…

Great trunks of trees stood dead and bare far out in the lake, making the impression of ruined piers of a city that had been, while behind, the timber lay criss-a-cross for half a dozen rods or more over the water….

We were glad to find on this carry some raspberries, and a few of the Vaccinium Canodense berries, which had begun to be ripe here (Journal, 9:494-495)

29 July. Maine. 1857.

In The Maine Woods, Thoreau writes,

When we awoke it had done raining, though it was still cloudy. The fire was put out, and the Indian’s boots, which stood under the eaves of the tent, were half full of water. He was more improvident is such respects than either of us, and he had to thank us for keeping his powder dry… When I rounded the precipice, though the shore was bare of trees, without rocks, for a quarter mile at least, my companion [Joesph Polis] was not to be seen. It was as if he had sunk into the earth. This was the more unaccountable to me, because I knew that his feet were, since our swamp walk, very sore, and that he wished to keep up with the party; and besides this was very bad walking, climbing over or about the rocks. I hastened along, hallooing and searching for him, thinking he might be concealed behind a rock, yet doubting if he had not taken the other side of the precipice, but the Indian had got along still faster in his canoe, til he was arrested by the falls, about a quarter of a mile below. He then landed, and said that we could go no farther that night…. The darkness in the woods was by this so thick that it alone decided the question. We must camp where we were (The Maine Woods, 241-261)

30 July. Maine. 1857.

Thoreau is reunited with Joseph Polis and his Native American guide kills a moose.

In his journal, Thoreau writes:

To a philosopher there is a sense no great and no small, and I do not often submit to the criticism which objects to comparing so-called great things with small. It is often a question which is most dignified by the comparison, and, beside, it is pleasant to be reminded that ancient worthies who dealt with affairs of state recognized small and familiar objects known to ourselves. We are surprised at the permanence of the relation (Journal, 9:496)

31 July. Maine. 1857.

Thoreau and his traveling companions cook the moose they had killed the previous day.

Thoreau writes,

Jackson, being some miles below this, in the East Branch, the 6th of October, Twenty years ago, says, “There are several small gravelly islands covered with a profusion of deep purple beach plums, but since they had been frozen they were sound to be tasteless and insipid.” We did not see any of these. (Journal, 9:499)

1 August. Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I saw at the end of this carry small Apocynum cannabinum on the rocks, also more of the spurred gentian….

Here were many Canada blueberries and, on the rocks, a new Allium or garlic, with purple flowers, and the Lobelia Kalmii, both on bare rocks just below the falls. On the main land were Norway pines and sandy soil, and Baeromyees roseus and Desmodium Canadense, — a new soil for this river (Journal, 9:500)

2 August. Penobscot River, Maine. 1857

Thoreau writes “At a small river coming in from the south a few miles below Nicketow, the Penobscot is crooked and the place is called Payt-gum-kiss, or Petticoat, according to [Joseph] P[olis].” (Journal, 9:500)

3 August. Penobscot River, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Though for six weeks before leaving home we had been scarcely able to lie under more than a single sheet, we experienced no hot weather in Maine. The air was uniformly fresh, and bracing like that of a mountain to us, and, though the inhabitants like to make it out that it is as warm there as is in Massachusetts, we were not to be cheated. it is so much the more desirable at this season to breathe the raspberry air of Maine (Journal, 9:501)

4 August. Pushaw lake, Maine. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Rode to Pushaw Lake with Thatcher and Hoar.

Duck-meat, apparently a new kind, there. I. thinks there’s little if any red cedar about Bangor” (Journal, 9:501)

5 August. Near Bangor, Maine. 1857.

In the evening, Thoreau “Rode to Old Fort Hill at the bend of the Penobscot some three miles above Bangor, to look for the site of the Indian Town, — perhaps the ancient Negas? Found several arrowheads and two little dark and crumbling fragments of Indian earthenware, like black earth.” (Journal, 9:502)

6 August. Bucksport, Maine. 1857

Thoreau travels

To the high hill and ponds in Bucksport, some ten or more miles out.

A withdrawn, wooded, and somewhat mountainous country. There was a little trout-pond just over the highest hill, very muddy, surrounded by a broad belt of yellow lily pads. Over this we pushed with great difficulty on a rickety raft of small logs, using poles thirty feet long, which stuck in the mud (Journal, 9:502-503)

7 August. Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Take cars for Portland, and at the evening the boat for Boston. A great deal of cat-tail flag by railroad between Penobscot and Kennebec. Fine large ponds about Belgrade” (Journal, 9:503)

8 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau arrives

home at 8:30 A.M.

I find that B[enjamin]. M[arston]. Watson sent me from Plymouth, July 20th, six glow-worms, of which two remain, the rest having escaped. he says they were found by his family on the evenings of the 18th and 19th of July. “They are very scarce, these being the only ones we have found as yet. They were mostly found on the way from the barn to James’s cottage, under the wild cherry trees on the right hand, in the grass where it was very dry, and at considerable distance from each other. We have had no rain for a month” (Journal, 10:3)

9 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “I see the blackbirds flying in flocks (which did not when I went away July 20th) and hear the shrilling of my alder locust” (Journal, 10:5)

10 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

How meanly and miserably we live for the most part! We escape fate continually by the skin of our teeth, as the saying is. We are practically desperate. But as every mean, in respect to material wealth, aims to become independent or wealthy, so, in respect to our spirits and imagination, we should have some spare capital and superfluous vigor, have some margin and leeway in which to move. What kind of gift is life unless we have spirits to enjoy it and taste its true flavor? if, in respect to spirits, we are to be forever cramped and in debt? In our ordinary estate we have not, so to speak, quite enough air to breathe, and this poverty qualifies our piety; but we should have more than enough and breathe it carelessly. Poverty is the rule. We should first of all be full of vigor like a strong horse, and beside have the free and adventurous spirit of his driver; i.e., we should have a reserve of elasticity and strength that we may at anytime be able to put ourselves at the top of our speed and go beyond our ordinary limits, just as an invalid hires a horse. Have the gods sent us into this world, — to this muster, — to do chores, hold horses, and the like, and not given us any spending money? (Journal, 10:6-7)

11 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

Red cohosh berries well ripe in front of Hunt’s, perhaps a week or more, — a small round, conical spike, two and a half inches long by one and three quarters, of about thirty cherry-red berries. The berries oblong, seven sixteenths of an inch by six sixteenths, with a seam on one side, on slender pedicels about five eighths of an inch long (Journal, 10:8)

13 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “J. Farmer saw some days ago a black-headed gull, between a kingfisher and common gull in size, sailing lightly on Bateman’s Pond. it was very white beneath and bluish-white above. Corallorhiza multiflora and Desmodium rotundifolium, how long?” (Journal, 10:8)

15 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes “Lycopodium lucidulum, how long?” (Journal, 10:8)

16 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau observes “Myriophyllum ambiguum, apparently var. limosum, except that it is not nearly linear-leafed but pectinate, well out how long?” (Journal, 10:8)

20 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Hubbard’s Close” (Journal, 10:8)

22 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “[William Ellery] Channing has brought me from Plymouth and [Benjamin Marston] Watson Drosera filiformis, just out of bloom, from Great South Pond, Solidago tenuifolia in bloom, Sabbatia chlorides, and Coreopsis rosea” (Journal, 10:9)

23 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels to “Conantum.

Hear the mole crickets nowadays. Collinsonia (very little left) not out” (Journal, 10:9)

24 August. Natick, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes extensively on this day and spends much of his time measuring and examining trees and nature and rides “to Austin Bacon’s, Natick…A[ustin]. Bacon showed me a drawing apparatus which he said he invented, very simply and convenient, also microscopes and many glasses for them which he made” (Journal, 10:10)

25 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the evening Thoreau travels “To Hill and meadow” (Journal, 10:13)

26 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “Up Assabet with Bradford and Hoar.

B[Radford]. tells me he found the Malaxis lilifolia on Kineo. Saw there a tame gull as large as a hen, brown dove-color. A lumberer called some timber ‘frowy.’ B. has found Cassia Chamaecrista by the side of the back road between Lincoln and Waltham, about two miles this side of Waltham (Journal, 10:14)

27 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Conantum” and discusses blackberries. (Journal, 10:14)

28 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I read the other day in the Tribune that a man apparently about seventy, and smart at that, went to the police in New York and asked for a lodging, having been left by the cars or steamboat when on his way to Connecticut. When they asked his age, native place, etc., he said his name was McDonald; he was born in Scotland in 1745, came to Plymouth, Mass., in 1760, was in some battles in the Revolution, in which he lost an eye; had a son eighty-odd years old, etc., but, seeing a reporter taking notes, he was silent. Since then I heard that an old man named McDonald, one hundred and twelve years old, had the day before passed through Concord and was walking to Lexington, and I said at once he must be a humbug…But I afterward remembered reading nearly a year ago of a man of his name and age in St. Louis, who said he had married a wife in Concord before the Revolution, and then began to think that his story might be all true. So it seems that a veteran of a hundred and twelve, after an absence of eighty-seven years, may come back to the town where he married his wife in order to hunt up his relatives, and not only have no success, but be pronounced a humbug!!! (Journal, 10:16-17)

29 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels to “Owl-Nest Swamp” (Journal,10: 17)

30 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the evening Thoreau travels “To Conantum” (Journal, 10:18)

31 August. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Flint’s Pond” and writes about the flowers and plants he observes there. (Journal, 10:19-20)

1 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Fair Haven Pond by boat” (Journal, 10:22)

2 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

In the evening, Thoreau travels “To Yellow Birches” and writes about what he observes there. (Journal:10, 22)

3 September. Waltham, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau “Rode to Prospect Hill, Waltham.

The Polygonum Pennsylvanicum there. One Chimaphila maculate on the hill. Tufts of Woodsia Hvensis. Hedyotis longifolia still flowering commonly, near the top, in a thin wood. Gerardia tennifolia by the road in Lincoln, and a slate-colored snowbird back” (Journal, 10:24)

4 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels

To Bateman’s Pond…

Penetrating through the thicket of that swamp, I see a great many very straight and slender upright shoots, the slenderest and tallest that I ever saw. They are the Prinos lavigatus. I cut one and brought it home in a ring around my neck,— it was flexible enough for that, — and found it to be seven and a half feet long and quite straight, eleven fortieths of an inch in diameter at the ground and three fortieths diameter at the other end, only the last foot or so of this year’s growth. It had a light-grayish bark, rough dotted. Generally they were five or six feet high and not bigger than a pipe-stem anywhere. This comes of its growing in dense dark swamps, where it makes a good part of the underwood (Journal, 10:24)

5 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes “I now see those brown shaving-like stipules of the white pine leaves, which are falling, i.e. the stipules, and caught in cobwebs.

River falls suddenly, having been high all summer” (Journal, 10: 25)

6 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Assabet, west bank. turned off south at Derby’s Bridge and walked through a long field, half meadow half upland” (Journal, 10:25-26)

7 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

returning to my boat, at the white maple, I see a small round flock of birds, perhaps blackbirds, dart through the air, as thick as a charge of shot,— now comparatively thin, with regular intervals of sky between them, like the holes in the strainer of a watering-pot, now dense and dark, as if closing up their ranks when they roll over one another and stoop downward (Journal, 10:28)

9 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

To the Hill for white pine cones.

Very few trees have any. I can only manage small ones, fifteen or twenty feet high, climbing til I can reach the dangling green pickle-like fruit in my right hand, while I hold to the main stem with my left. The cones are now all flowing with pitch, and my hands are so covered with it that I cannot easily cast down the cones where I would, they stick to my hands so. I cannot touch the basket, but carry it on my arm; nor can I pick up my coat, which I have taken off, unless with my teeth, or else I kick it up and catch it on my arm. Thus I go from tree to tree, from time to time rubbing my hands in brooks and mud-holes, in the hope of finding something that will remove pitch like grease, but in vain. it is the stickiest work I ever did. I do not see how the squirrels that gnaw them off and then open them scale by scale keep their paws and whiskers clean. They must know of, or possess, some remedy for pitch that we know nothing of. How fast I could collect cones, If I could only contract with a family of squirrels to cut them off for me! (Journal, 10:28-29)

10 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

To Cardinal Ditch and Peter’s.

Cardinal-flower, nearly done. beach plum, almost ripe. Squash vines on the Great Fields, generally killed and blackened by frost (though not so much in our garden), revealing the yellow fruit, perhaps prematurely. Standing by peter’s well, the white maples by the bank of the river a mile off now give a rosaceous tinge to the edge of the meadow. I see lambkill ready to bloom a second time. Saw it out on the 20th; how long? (Journal, 10:30)

11 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “Up railroad and to Clamshell” (Journal, 10:30)

12 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

To Owl Swamp (Farmer’s)

In an open part of the swamp, started a very large wood frog, which gave one leap and squatted still. I put down my finger, and, though it shrank a little at first, it permitted me to stroke it as long as I pleased. having passed, it occurred to me to return and cultivate its acquaintance. To my surprise, it allowed me to slide my hand under it and lift it up, while it squatted cold and moist on the middle of my palm, panting naturally. I brought it close to my eye and examined it. It was very beautiful seen thus early, not the dull dead-leaf color which I had imagined, but its back was like burnished bronze armor defined by a varied line on each side, where, as it seemed, the plates of armor united. It had four or five dusky bars which matched exactly when the legs were folded, showing that the painter applied his brush to the animal when in that position, and reddish-orange soles to its delicate feet. There was a conspicuous dark-brown patch along the head, whose upper edge passed directly through the eye horizontally, just above its centre, so that the pupil and all below were dark and the upper portion of the iris golden. I have since taken up another in the same way (Journal, 10:31-32)

13 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau observes “Nabaluls Fraseri, top of Cliffs, — a new plant, — yet in prime and not long out. The nabalus family generally, apparently now in prime” (Journal, 10:32)

16 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Great Yellow Birch, with the Watsons” and is given glow worms by them. (Journal 10, 32-34)

17 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels

to Fair Haven Hill, looking at the varieties of nabalus, which have a singular prominence now in all woods and roadsides. The lower leaves are very much eaten by insects. How perfectly each plant has its turn! — as if the seasons revolved for it alone. Two months ago it would have taken a sharp eye to have detected this plant. One of those great puffballs, three inches in diameter, ripe (Journal, 10:35)

18 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Coming home through the street in a thunder-shower at ten o’clock this night, it was exceedingly dark. I met two person within a mile, and they were obliged to call out from a rod distant lest we should run against each other. When lightning lit up the street, almost as plain as day, I saw that it was the same green light that the glow-worm emits. Has the moisture something to do with it in both cases? (Journal, 10:36)

19 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Still somewhat rainy, — since last evening” (Journal, 10: 36)

20 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Another mizzling day…

We walked in some trodden path on account of the wet grass and leaves, but the fine grass overhanging paths, weighed down with dewy rain, wet our feet nevertheless. We cannot afford to omit seeing the beaded grass and wetting our feet. This is our first fall rain, and makes a dividing line between the summer and fall. Yet there has been no drought the past summer (Journal, 10:36)

21 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Carallorhiza rock and Tobacco-pipe Wood, northeast of Spruce Swamp” (Journal, 10:37)

23 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

The Ripley beeches have been cut. I can’t find them. There is one large one, apparently on Baker’s land, about two feet in diameter near the ground, but fruit hollow. I see yellow pine-sap, in the woods just cast of where the beeches used to stand, just done, but the red variety is very common and quite fresh generally there (Journal, 10:39)

24 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

Up the Assabet.

The river is considerably raised and also muddied by the recent rains.

I saw a red squirrel run along the bank under the hemlocks with a nut in its mouth. He stopped near the foot of a hemlock, and, hastily pawing a hole with his fore feet, dropped the nut, covered it up, and retreated part way up the trunk of the tree, all in a few moments. I approached the shore to examine the deposit, and he, descending betrayed no little anxiety for his treasure and made two or three motions to recover the nut before he retreated (Journal, 10:39-40)

25 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his 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 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 meadow vale and attracts the attention of the traveler 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 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 fellow, 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 (Journal, 10:42-43)

26 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

The season is waning. A wasp just looked in upon me. A very warm day for the season…

These are warm, serene, bright autumn afternoons. I see far off the various-colored gowns of cranberry pickers against the green of the meadow. The river stands a little way over the grass again, and the summer is over (Journal, 10:44)

27 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I am surprised to find that, yesterday having been a sudden very warm day, the peaches have mellowed suddenly and wilted, and I find many more fallen than even after previous rains. Better if ripened more gradually.

How out of all proportion to the value of an idea, when you come to one, — in Hindoo literature, for instance, — it the historical fact about it, — the when, where, etc., it was actually expressed, and what precisely it might signify to a sect of worshippers! Anything that is called history of India — or of the world — is impertinent beside any real poetry or inspired thought which is dateless (Journal, 10:46)

28 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau reflects on the protection of nature,

I see that E. Wood has sent a couple of Irishman, with axe and bush-whack, to cut off the natural hedges and sumach, Roxbuty waxwork, grapes, etc., which have sprung up by the walls on this hill farm, in order that his cows may get a little more green. And they have cut down two or three of the very rare celtis trees, not found anywhere else in town. The Lord deliver us from these vandalic proprietors! The botanist and lover of nature has, perchance, discovered some rare tree which has sprung up by a farmer’s wall-side to adorn and bless it, sole representative of its kind in these parts. Strangers send for a seed or a sprig from a distance, but, walking there again, he finds that the farmer has sent a raw Irishman, a hireling just arrived on these shores, who was never there before, — and we trust, will never be let lose there again, — who knows not whether he is hacking at the upas tree or the Tree of Knowledge, with axe and stub-scythe to exterminate it, and he will know it no more forever. What is trespassing? This hessian, the day after he was landed, was whirled twenty miles into the interior to do this deed of vandalism on our favorite hedge. I would as soon admit a living mud turtle into my herbarium. If some are prosecuted for abusing children, others deserve to be prosecuted for maltreating the face of nature committed to their care (Journal, 10:50-51)

29 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “All sorts of men come to Cattle-Show. I see one with a blue hat.

I hear that some have gathered fringed gentian. Pines have begun to be parti-colored with yellow leaves” (Journal, 10: 51)

30 September. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

What poor crack-brains we are! easily upset and unable to take care of ourselves! If there were a precipice at our doors, some would be found jumping off to-day for fear that, if they survived, they might jump off to-morrow….

Consider what actual phenomena await us. To say nothing of life, which may be rare and difficult to detect, and death, which is startling enough, we cannot begin to conceive anything so surprising and thrilling but that something more surprising may be actually presented to us….

According to Upanishads, “As water, when rained down on elevated ground, runs scattered off in the valleys, so ever runs after difference a person who beholds attributes different (from the soul.”

“As pure water, which is thrown down on pure ground, remains alike, so also, O Gautama, is the soul of the thinker who knows.” (Journal, 10:53-54)

1 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To second stone bridge and down Assabet home” (Journal, 10:55)

2 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

The chief incidents in [George] Minott’s life must be more distinct and interesting to him now than  immediately after they occurred, for he has recalled and related them so often that they are stereotyped in his mind. Never having travelled far from his hillside, he does not suspect himself, but tell his stories with fidelity and gusto to the minutest details, — as much as Herodotus his histories (Journal, 10: 56)

3 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal,

Getting over the wall near Sam Barrett’s the other day, I had gone a few rods in the road when I met Prescott Barrett, who observed, “Well, you take a walk round the square sometime.” So little does he know of my habits. I go across lots over his grounds every three or four weeks, but I do not know that I ever walked round the square in my life.

How much more agreeable to sit in the midst of old furniture like [George] Minott’s clock and secretary and looking-glass, which have come down from other generations, than in that which was just brought from the cabinet-maker’s and smells of varnish, like a coffin! To sit under the face of an old clock that has been ticking one hundred and fifty years, — there is something mortal, not to say immortal, about it! A clock that began to tick when Massachusetts was a province. Meanwhile John Beatton’s heavy tombstone is cracked quite across and widely opened (Journal, 10:58-59)

4 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

While I lived in the woods I did various jobs about the town, — some fence-building, painting, gardening, carpentering, etc., etc. One day a man came from the east edge of the town and said that he wanted to get me to brick up a fireplace, etc., etc., for him. I told him that I was not a mason, but he knew that I had built my own house entirely and would not take no for an answer. SO I went.

It was three miles off, and I walked back and forth each day, arriving early and working as late as if I were living there. The man was gone away most of the time, but had left some sand dug up in his cow-yard for me to make mortar with. I bricked up a fireplace, papered a chamber,  but my principal work was whitewashing ceilings. Some were so dirty that many coats would not conceal the dirt. In the kitchen I finally resorted to yellow-wash to cover the dirt. I took my meals there, witting down with my employer (when he got home) and his hired men. I remember the awful condition of the sink, at which I washed one day, and when I came to look at what was called the towel I passed it by and wiped my hands on the air (Journal, 10:61-62)

5 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

It is evident that some phenomena which belong only to spring in that latitude, as the peeping of hylodes and blossoming of some flowers that long since withered here were there still freshly in bloom, in that fresher and cooler atmosphere, — the call for instance. To say nothing of the myrtle-bird and F. hyemalis which breed there, but only transiently visit us in spring and fall. Just as a river which here freezes only a certain distance from the shore, follow it further north, is found to be completely bridged over. The toads, too, as I have said, rang at this season. What is summer where Indian corn will not ripen (Journal, 10:66)

6 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

The frontier houses preserve many of the features of the logging-camp….

Looking up Trout Stream, it seems as a wild a place for a man to live as we had seen. What a difference between a residence there and within five minutes walk of the depot! What different men the two live must turn out! (Journal, 10:70)

7 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Such is the dwelling place of man; but go to a caucus in the village to-night or to a church to-morrow, and see if there is anything said to suggest that the inhabitants of those houses know what kind of world they live in. But hark! I hear the tolling of a distant funeral bell, and they are conveying a corpse to the churchyard from one of the houses that I see, and its serious sound is more in harmony with this scenery than any ordinary bustle could be. It suggests that man must die to his present life before he can appreciate his opportunities and the beauty of the abode that is appointed him.

I do not know how to entertain one who can’t take long walks. The first thing that suggests itself is to get a horse and draw them, and that brings us at once into contact with stablers and dirty harness, and I do not get over my ride for a long time. I give up my forenoon to them and get along pretty well, the very elasticity of the air and promise of the day abetting me, but they are as heavy as dumplings by mid-afternoon. If they can’t walk, why won’t they take an honest nap and let me go in the afternoon? But, come two o’clock, they alarm me by an evident disposition to sit. In the midst of the most glorious Indian-summer afternoon, there they sit, breaking your chairs and wearing out the house, with their backs to the light, taking no note of he lapse of time (Journal, 10:73-74)

8 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “Up Assabet” (Journal, 10:77)

9 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

It has come to this, — that the lover of art is one, and the lover of nature another, though true art is but the expression of our love of nature. It is monstrous when one cares but little about trees but much about Corinthian columns, and yet this is exceedingly common (Journal, 10:80)

10 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

This is the end of the sixth day of glorious weather, which I am tempted to call the finest in the years, so bright and serene the air and such a sheen from the earth, so brilliant the foliage, so pleasantly warm (except, perhaps, this day, which is cooler), too warm for a thick coat, — yet not sultry nor oppressive, — so ripe the season and our thoughts. Certainly these are the most brilliant days in the year, ushered in perhaps, by a frosty morning, as this. As a dewy morning in the summer compared with a parched and sultry, languid one, so a frosty morning at this season compared with a merely dry or foggy one. These days you may say the year has ripened like a fruit by frost, and puts on brilliant tints of maturity but not yet of decay. it is not sere and withered as in November. See the heaps of apples in the fields and at the cider-mill, of pumpkins in the fields, and the stacks or corn-stalks and the standing corn. Such is the season. The morning frosts have left a silvery hue one the fine pasture grasses. They have added to a kindred color. (Journal, 10: 85)

11 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes:

Mr. Conant of Acton tells me that there was a grist mill built over the river by Sam Barrett’s grandfather, and that he remembers going to it when he was fourteen. He went in at the Lee house and crossed the river by the bridge at the mill. he says that it is as much as sixty years since the mill was standing. [George] Minott thinks it is not quite so long since. He remembers the bridge there, not a town one, nor strong enough for a horse and cart.  Thinks the mill was discontinued because Dr. Lee complained of it flooding his woodland. They used to stop their carts this side and carry their bags back and forth over the bridge on their shoulders. Used a small and poor road across to Lee’s farm. (Journal, 10:87)

12 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Annursnack.

The eight fine day, warmer than the last two. I find one or two house-leek blossoms even yet fresh, and all the rest crisp…Looking from the Hill. The autumnal tints generally are much duller now than three or four days ago. (Journal, 10:88)

13 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau observes that “Maple fires are burnt out generally, and they have fairly begun to fall and look smoky in the swamps. When my eyes were resting on those smoke-like bare trees, it did not at first occur to me why the landscape was not as brilliant as a few days ago. The outside trees in the swamps lose their leaves first” (Journal, 10:90)

14 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

It is indeed a golden autumn. These ten days are enough to make the reputation of any climate. A tradition of these days might be handed down to posterity. They deserve a notice in history, in the history of Concord…Was there ever such an autumn? And yet there was never such a panic and hard time in the commercial world. The merchants and banks are suspending and failing all the country over, but not the sand-banks, solid and warm, and streaked with bloody blackberry vines. You may run upon them as you please, — even as the crickets do, and find their account in it. They are the stockholders in these banks, and I hear them creaking their content. You may see them on change any warmer hour. in these banks, too, and such as these, are my funds deposited, a fund of health and enjoyment. Their (the crickets) prosperity and happiness and, I trust, mine do not depend on whether the New York banks suspend or no. We do not rely on such slender security as the thin paper of the Suffolk Bank. To put your trust in such a bank is to be swallowed up and undergo suffocation. Invest, I say, in these country banks. Let your capital be simplicity and contentment. Withered goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) is no failure, like a broken bank, and yet in its most golden season nobody counterfeits it. nature needs no counterfeit-detector. I have no compassion for, nor sympathy with, this miserable state of things. Banks built of granite, after some Grecian or Roman style, with their porticoes and their safes of iron, are not so permanent, and cannot give me so good security for capital invested in them, as the heads of withered hardhack in the meadow. I do not suspect the solvency of these. I know who is their president and cashier. (Journal, 10:92-92)

15 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Rain at last, and end of the remarkable days. The springs and rivers have been very low. Millers have not water enough to grind their grists” (Journal, 10:98)

16 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “Up Assabet.

It clears up entirely by noon, having been cloudy in the forenoon, and is as warm as before now” (Journal, 10:99)

17 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

The trainers are out with their band of music, and I find my account in it, though I have not subscribed for it. I am walking with a hill between me and the soldiers. I think, perhaps, it will be worth while to keep within hearing of these strains this afternoon, Yet I hesitate. I am wont to find music unprofitable; it is a luxury. it is surprising, however, that so few habitually intoxicate themselves with music, so many with alcohol. I think, perchance, I may risk it, it will whet my senses so; it will reveal a glory where none was seen before. it is remarkable that men too must dress in bright colors and march to music once in the year. nature, too, assumes her bright hues now, and think you a subtile music may not be heard amid the hill? No doubt these strains sometimes suggest to Abner, walking behind in his red-streaked pants, an ideal which he had lost sight of, or never perceived. it is remarkable that our institutions can stand before music, it is so revolutionary. (Journal, 10:103)

18 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Conantum.

Clear and pleasant afternoon, but cooler than before. At the brook beyond Hubbard’s Grove, I stand to watch the water-bugs (Gyrinus). The shallow water appears now more than usually clear there, as the weather is cooler, and the shadows of these bugs on the bottoms, half a dozen times as big as themselves, with a narrow and well-defined halo about them. (Journal, 10:104-105)

19 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

Mr. Sanborn tells me that he looked off from Wachusett last night, and that he saw the shadow of the mountain gradually extend itself eastward not only over the earth but finally on to the sky in the horizon. Though it extended as much as two diameters of the moon on to the sky, in a small cone. This was like the spectre of the Brocken. (Journal, 10:108)

20 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

What a wild and rich domain that Easterbrooks Country! Not a cultivated, hardly a cultivatable field in it, and yet it delights all natural persons, and feeds more still. Such great rocky and moist tracts, which daunt the farmer, are reckoned as unimproved land, and therefore worth but little; but think of the miles of huckleberries, and of barberries, and of wild apples, so fair, both in flower and fruit, resorted to by men and beasts: Clark, Brown, Melvin, and the robins, these at least, were attracted thither this afternoon. (Journal, 10:112)

21 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

it is pitiful to see a man of sixty, a philosopher, perchance, inquiring for a bearing apple orchard for sale. if he must have one, why did he not set it out when he was thirty? How mean and lazy, to be plucking the fruit of another man’s labor. The old man I saw yesterday lives on peaches and milk in their season, but then he planted them.

Is not the poet bound to write his own biography? is there any other work for him but a good journal? We do not wish to know how this imaginary hero, but how he, the actual hero, lived from day to day. (Journal, 10:115)


22 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels

To Hill.

Ground pretty white with frost. the stiffened and frosted weeds and grass have an aggrieved look. The lately free-flowing blades of grass look now like mourning tresses sculptured stiffly in marble; they lie stiff and dishevelled. A very narrow strip of ice has formed along the riverside, in which I see a pad or two, wearing the same aggrieved look, like the face of the child that cried for spilt milk, its summer irrevocably gone. (Journal, 10:116)

23 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels

Up Assabet.

The ferns which I can see on the bank, apparently all evergreens, are polydoly at rock, marginal shield fern, terminal shield fern, and (I think it is) Aspidium spinulosum, which I had not identified. Apparently Aspidium cristatum elsewhere.

I can find no bright leaves now in the woods. Witch-hazel, etc., are withered, turned brown, or yet green. See by the droppings in the woods where small migrating birds have roosted.

I see a squirrel’s nest in a white pine, recently made, on the hillside near the witch-hazels. (journal, 10:123)

24 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I find my account in this long-continued monotonous labor of picking chestnuts all the afternoon, brushing the leaves aside without looking up, absorbed in that, and forgetting better things awhile. my eye is educated to discover anything on the ground, as chestnuts, etc. It is probably wholesomer to look at the ground much than at the heavens. As I go stooping and brushing the leaves aside by the hour, I am not thinking of chestnuts merely, but I find myself humming a thought of more significance. This occupation affords a certain broad pause and opportunity to start again afterward, — turn over a new leaf. (Journal, 10:125)

25 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes

A rainy day and easterly wind, — an easterly storm. I see flying very high over the meadow, from the east, eleven large birds, leisurely circling a little by the way, surveying the bare meadow (Journal, 10:126)

26 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal,

Hard rain in the night and almost steady rain through the day, the second day. Wind still easterly or northeasterly….

A driving east or northeast storm. I can see through the drisk only a ile. The river is getting partly over the meadows at last, and my spirits rise with it. me-thinks this rise of the waters must effect every thought and deed in the town. It qualifies my sentence and life. I trust there will appear in the Journal some flow, some gradual filling of the springs and raising of the streams, that the accumulating grists may be ground. A storm is a new, and in some respects more active, life in nature. They, at least, sympathize with the movements of the watery element and the winds. (Journal, 10:126)

27 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes

The real facts of a poet’s life would be more value to us than any work of his art. I mean that the very scheme and form of his poetry (so called) is adopted at a sacrifice of vital truth and poetry. Shakespeare has left us his fancies and imaginings, but the truth of his life, with its becoming circumstances, we know nothing about. The writer is reported, the liver not at all. Shakespeare’s house! how hollow it is! No man can conceive of Shakespeare in that house. But we want the basis of fact, of an actual life, to complete our Shakespeare, as much as a statue wants its pedestal. A poet’s life with this broad actual basis would be as superior to Shakespeare’s as a lichen, with its base or thallus, is superior in the order of being a fungus. (Journal, 10:131)

28 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes extensively on this day. In his journal he writes,

All at once a low-slanted glade of sunlight from one of heaven’s west windows behind me fell on the bare gray maples, lighting them up with and incredibly intense and pure white light; then, going out there, it lit up some white birch stems south of the pond, then the gray rocks and the pale reddish young oaks of the lower cliffs, and then the very pale brown-meadow-grass, and at last the brilliant white breasts of two ducks, tossing on the agitated surface far off on the pond, which I had not detected before. It was but a transient ray, and there was no sunshine afterward, but the intensity of the light was surprising and impressive, like a halo, a glory in which only the just deserved to live.

It was as if the air, purified by the long storm, reflected these few rays from side to side with a complete illumination, like a perfectly polished mirror, while the effect was greatly enhanced by the contrast with the dull dark clouds and somber earth. As if Nature did not dare at once to let in the full blaze of the sun to this combustible atmosphere. It was a serene, elysian light, in which the deeds I have dreamed of but not realized might be performed. At the eleventh hour, late in the year, we have visions of the life we might have lived. No perfectly fair weather ever offered such an arena for noble acts. it was such a light as we behold but dwell not in! (Journal, 10:133)

29 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

There are some things of which I cannot at once tell whether I have dreamed them or they are real; as if they were just, perchance, establishing, or else losing, a real basis in my world. This is especially the case in the early morning hours, when there is a gradual transition from dreams to waking thoughts, from illusions to actualities, as from darkness, or perchance moon and star light, to sunlight. Dreams are real, as is the light of the stars and moon, and theirs is said to be a dreamy light. Such early morning thoughts as I speak of occupy a debatable ground between dreams and waking thoughts. They are a sort of permanent dream in my mind. At least, until we have for some time changed our position from prostrate to erect, and commence or faced some of the duties of the day, we cannot tell what we have dreamed from what we have actually experienced. (Journal, 10:141)

30 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Another, the eighth, day of cloudy weather, though no rain to-day…

There’s a very large and complete circle round the moon this evening, which part way round is a faint rainbow. It is a clear circular space, sharply and mathematically cut out of a think mackerel sky. (Journal, 10:147)

31 October. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

If you are afflicted with melancholy this season, go to the swamp and see the brave spears of skunk-cabbage buds already advanced toward a new year. Their gravestones are not bespoken yet. Who shall be a sexton to them? Is it the winter of their discontent? Do they seem to have lain down to die, despairing of skunk-cabbagedom? “Up and at ’em,” “Give it to ’em,” “Excelsior,” “Put it through,” — these are their mottoes. Mortal human creatures must take a little respite in this fall of the year; their spirits do flag a little. There is a little questioning of destiny, and thinking to go like cowards to where the “weary shall be at rest.” But not so with the skunk-cabbage. its withered leaves fall and are transfixed by a rising bud. Winter and death are ignored; the circle of life is complete. Are these false prophets? Is it a lie or a vain boast underneath the skunk-cabbage bud, pushing it upward and lifting the dead leaves with it?  (Journal, 10:150-151)

1 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Fair Haven Pond Over Cliffs.

Another cloudy afternoon after a clear morning.

When I enter the woods I notice the drier crispier rustle of withered leaves on the oak trees, — a sharper susurrus. (Journal, 10:152)

2 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I think that most men, as farmers, hunters, fishers, etc., walk along a river’s bank, or paddle along its stream, without seeing the reflections. Their minds are not abstracted from the surface, from surfaces generally. it is only a reflecting mind that sees reflections. I am aware often that I have been occupied with shallow and commonplace thoughts, looking for something superficial, when I did not see the most gloripus reflections, though exeactly in the line of my vision. If the fisherman was looking at the reflection, he would not know when he had a nibble! I know from my own experience that he may cast his line right over the most elysian landscape and sky, and not catch the slightest notion of them. You must be in an abstract mood to see reflections however distinct. I was even startled by the sight of that reflected red oak as if it were a black water-spirit. When we are enough abstracted, the opaque earth itself reflects images to us; i.e., we are imaginative, see visions, etc. Such a reflection, this inky, leafy tree, against the white sky, can only be seen at this season. (Journal, 10:156-157)

3 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To the Easterbrooks moraine via Ponkawtasset-top.” (Journal, 10:157)

4 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

I leave the railroad at Walden Crossing and follow the path to Spanish Brook. How swift Nature is to repair the damage that man does! When he has cut down a tree and left only a white-topped and bleeding stump, she comes at once to the rescue with her chemistry, and covers it decently with a fresh coat of green cup and bright cockscomb lichens, and it becomes an object of new interest to the lover of nature! Suppose it were always to remain a raw stump instead! It becomes a shell on which this humble vegetation spreads and displays itself, and we forget the death of the larger in the life of the less. (Journal, 10:160)

5 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

I think that the man of science makes this mistake, and the mass o fmankind along with him: that you should coolly give your chief attention to the phenomenon which excited you as something independent on you, and not as it is related to you. The important fact is its effect on me. He thinks that I have no business to see anything else but just what he defines the rainbow to be, but I care not whether my vision of truth is a waking thought or dream remembered, whether it is seen in the light or in the dark. It is the subject of the visions, the truth alone, that concerns me. The philosopher for whom rainbows, etc., can be explained away never them. With regard to such objects, I find that it is not the themselves (with which the men of science deal) that concern me; the point of interest is somewhere between me and them (i.e. the objects)…. (Journal, 10:165)

6 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes “Very warm  but rather cloudy weather, after rain in the night. Wind southwest. Thermometer on north of the house 70º at 12 M. Indian summer. The cocks crow in the soft air. They are very sensitive to atmospheric changes.” (Journal, 10:166)

7 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

P.M.  To Bateman’s Pond with R[alph].W[aldo].E[merson].

Stedmen Buttrick, speaking of R[alph].W[aldo].E[merson].’s cow that was killed by lightning and not found for some days, said that they heard a “bellering” of the cows some days before they found her, and they found the ground much trampled about the dead cow;  that was the way with cows in such cases; if such an accident happened to one of their number, they would have spells of gathering around her and “bellering.”

[George] Minott adorns whatever part of nature he touches; whichever way he walks he transfigures the earth for me.  If a common man speaks of Walden Pond to me, I see only a shallow, dull-colored body of water without reflections or peculiar color, but if [George] Minott speaks of it, I see the green water and reflected hills at once, for he has been there.  I hear the rustle of the leaves from woods which he goes through.

This has been another Indian-summer day,  Thermometer 58 degrees at noon. (Journal, 10:168)

8 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes that it is a “warm cloudy, rain-threatening morning… a flock of geese are going over from northeast to southwest, or parallel with the general direction of the coast and great mountain-ranges…The children, instinctively aware of its importance, rushed into the house to tell their parents” (Journal, 10:169)

9 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes

Surveying for  Stedman Buttrick and Mr. Gordon.

Jacob Farmer says that he remembers well a particular bound (which is the subject of dispute between the above two men) from this circumstance: He, a boy, was sent, as the representative of his mother, to witness the placing of the bounds to her lot, and he remembers that, when they had fixed the stake and stones, old Mr. Nathan Barrett asked him if he had a knife about him, upon which he pulled out his knife and gave it to him. Mr. Barrett cut a birch switch and trimmed it in the presence of young Farmer, and then called out, “Boy, here’s your knife;” but as the boy saw that he was going to strike him when he reached his hand for the knife, he dodged into a bush which alone received the blow. And Mr. Barrett said that if it had not been for that, he would have got a blow which would have made him remember that bound as long as he lived, and explained to him that this was his design in striking him. (Journal, 10:172-173)

11 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau “heard, day before yesterday, much firing of guns in the chestnut woods by Curly-pate Hill, probably at gray squirrels. George Buttrick says it is late for them; were thickest in chestnut time.

That cellar-hole off northwest of Brooks Clark’s is where Boaz Brown used to live.” (Journal, 10:174)

13 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal,

I find that I can see the sun set from almost any hill in Concord, and some within the confines of the neighboring towns, and though this takes place at just about 5 P.M., when the cows come in, get to the post-office by the time the mail is distributed. See the sun rise or set if possible each day. let that be your pill. How speedily the night comes on now! There is duskiness in the afternoon light before you are aware of it, the cows have gathered about the bars, waiting to be let out, and, in twenty minutes, candles gleam from distant windows, and the walk for this day is ended. it remains only to get home again. Who is weary? Why do we cease work and go to bed? Who taught men thus to spend their nights and days? Yet I must confess that I am surprised when I find that particular wise and independent persons conform so far as regularly to go to bed and get up about the same time with their neighbors. (Journal, 10:175-176)

14 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

I find my hands stiffened and involuntarily finding their way to my pockets. no wonder that the weather is a standing subject of conversation, since we are so sensitive. if we had not gone throough several winters, we might well be alarmed at the approach of cold weather. With this keener blast from the north, my hands suddenly fail to fulfill their office, as it were begin to die. We must put on armor against the new for. I am almost world-ridden suddenly. I can hardly tie and untie my shoe-strings. What a story to tell the inhabitants of the tropics, —  perchance that you went to walk, after many months of warmth, when suddenly the air became so cold and hostile to your nature, that it benumbed you so that you lost the use of some of your limbs, could not untie your shoe-strings or unbutton your clothes! This cold weather makes us step more briskly. (Journal, 10;178)

15 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau observes “the obvious falling of leaves (i.e. not to include the fall of the pitch pines and larches and the complete fall of the birches, white willows, etc.) ended about the first of November. A very few bright-colored leaves on small shrubs, such as oak sprouts, black cherry, blueberry, etc., have lingered up to this time in favorable places. by the first of November, or at most a few days later, the trees generally wear, in the main, their winter aspect, their leaves gradually fading until spring.” (Journal, 10:181-182)

17 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Rain last night” (Journal, 10:185)

18 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

The sunlight is a peculiarly thin and clear yellow, falling on the pale-brown bleaching herbage of the fields at this season. There is no redness in it. This is November sunlight. Much cold, skate-colored cloud, bare twigs seen gleaming toward the light like gossamer, pure green of pines whose old leaves rustling on the hillsides, very pale brown, bleaching, almost hoary fine grass or hay in the fields, akin to the frost which has killed it, and flakes of clear yellow sunlight falling on it here and there, — such is November.

The fine grass is killed by the frost, withered and bleached till it is almost silvery, has clothed the fields for a long time.

Now, as in the spring, we rejoice in sheltered and sunny places. (Journal, 10:186)

19 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes

In Stow’s sprout-land west of railroad cut, I see where a mouse which has a hole under a stump has eaten out clean the insides of the little Prinos verticillatus berries. These may be the doubtful seeds of the 14th. What pretty fruit for the mice, these bright prinos berries! They run up the twigs in the night and gather this shining fruit, take out the small seeds, and eat their kernels at the entrance to their burrows. The ground is strewn with them there. (Journal, 10:189)

20 November. Concord, Mass. 1857

Thoreau writes in his journal:

In books, that which is most generally interesting is what comes home to the most cherished private experience of the greatest number. It is not the book of him who has travelled the farthest over the surface of the globe, but of him who has lived the deepest and been the most at home. If an equal emotion is excited by a familiar homely phenomenon as by the Pyramids, there is no advantage in seeing the Pyramids. It is on the whole better, as it is simpler, to use the common language. We require that the reporter be very permantentlt planted before the facts which he observes, not merely a passer-by; hence the facts cannot be too homely. A man is worth most to himself and to others, whether as an observer, or poet, or neighbor, or friend, where he is most himself, most contented and at home. There his life is the most intense and he loses the fewest moments. familiar and surrounding objects are the best symbols and illustrations of his life. If a man who has had deep experiences should endeavor to describe them in a book of travels, it would be to use the language of a wandering tribe instead of a universal language. The poet has made the best roots in his native soil of any man, and is the hardest to transplant. The man who is often thinking that it is better to be somewhere else than where he is excommunicates himself. if a man is rich and strong anywhere, it must be on his native soil. Here I have been these forty years learning the language of these fields that I may the better express myself. If I should travel to the prairies, I should much less understand them, and my past life would serve me but ill to describe them. many a weed here stands for more of life to me than the big trees of California would if I should go there. We only need travel enough to give our intellects an airing. In spite of Malthus and the rest, there will be plenty of room in this world, if every man will mind his own business. I have not heard of any planet running against another yet. (Journal, 10:190-191)

21 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels

Up Assabet.

Paddling along, a little above the Hemlocks, I hear, I think, a boy whistling upon the bank above me, but immediately perceive that it is the whistle of the locomotive a mile off in that direction. I perceived that it was distant, and therefore, the locomotive, the moment that the key was changed from a very high to a low one. Was it because distant sounds are commonly on a low key? (Journal, 10:193-194)

23 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There is a strong and warm southwest wind, which brings the frost out of the ground,—more than I thought was in it,—making the surface wet…

  In the evening heavy rain and some thunder and lightning, and rain in the night.

(Journal, 10:199)
24 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Some poets have said that writing poetry was for youths only, but not so. In that fervid and excitable season we only get the impulse which is to carry us onward in our future career. Ideals are then exhibited to us distinctly which all our lives after we may aim at but not attain. The mere vision is little compared with the steady corresponding endeavor thitherward. It would be vain for us to be looking ever into promised lands toward which in the meanwhile we were not steadily and earnestly travelling, whether the way led over a mountain-top or through a dusky valley. In youth, when we are most elastic and there is a spring to us, we merely receive an impulse in the proper direction. To suppose that this is  equivalent to having travelled the road, or obeyed the impulse faithfully throughout a lifetime, is absurd. We are shown fair scenes in order that we may be tempted to inhabit them, ant not simply tell what we have seen. (Journal, 10:202)

25 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

It is surprising how much, from the habit of regarding writing as an accomplishment, is wasted on form. A very little information or wit is mixed up with a great deal of conventionalism in the style of expressing it, as with a sort of preponderating paste or vehicle. Some life is not simply expressed, but a long-winded speech is made, with an occasional attempt to put a little life into it. (Journal, 10:206)

26 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

[George] Minott’s is a small, square, one-storied and unpainted house, with a hipped roof and at least one dormer window, a third the way up the south side of a long hill which is some fifty feet high and extends east and west.A traveler of taste may go straight through the village without being detained a moment by any dwelling, either in the form or surroundings being objectionable, but very few go by this house without being agreeably impressed, and many are therefore led to inquire who lives in it. Not that its form is so incomparable, nor even its weather-stained color, but chiefly, I think, because of its snug and picturesque position on the hillside, fairly lodged there, where all children like to be, and its perfect harmony with its surrounding and position. for if, preserving this form and color, it should be transplanted to the meadow below, nobody would notice it more than a schoolhouse which was lately of the same form. It is there because somebody was independent or bold enough to carry out the happy thought of placing it high on the hillside. It is the locality, not the architecture, that takes us captive. There is exactly such a site, only of course less room on either side, but few if any, even of the admiring travelers, have thought of this as a house-lot, or would be bold enough to place a cottage there. (Journal, 10:207-208)

27 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau “Was struck by the appearance of a small hickory near the wall, in the rocky ravine just above the trough. its trunk was covered with loose scales unlike the hickories near it and as much as the shagbark; but probably it is a shaggy or scaly barked variety of Carya glabra. It may be well to observe it next fall. The husk is not thick, like that of the shagbark, but quite thin, and splits into four only part way down. The shell is not white nor sharply four-angled like the other, but it is rather like pignut.” (Journal, 10:210)

28 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “Around Ebby Hubbard’s woodlot” (Journal, 10:211)

29 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

A week or son ago, as I learn, Miss Emeline Barnett told a little boy who boards with her, and who was playing with an open knife in his hand, that he must be careful not to fal  down and cut himself with it, for once Mr. David Loring, when he was a little boy, fell down with a knife in his hand and cut his throat badly. It was soon reported, among the children at least, that little Daivd Loring, the grandson of the former, had fallen down with a knife in his hand as he was going to school, and nearly cut his throat; next, that Mr. David Loring the grandfather (who lives in Framingham) had committed suicide, had cut his throat, was not dead, indeed, but was not expected to live; and in this form the story spread like wildfire over the town and county. Nobody expressed surprise. his oldest acquaintances and best friends, his legal adviser, all said, “Well I can believe it.” He was known by many to have been speculating in Western lands, which, owing to the hard times, was a failure, and he was depressed in consequence. Sally Cummings helped spread the news. Said there was no doubt of it, but there was Fay’s wife ([David] L[oring].’s daughter) knew nothing of it yet, they were as merry as crickets over there. Other stated that Wetherbee, the expressman, had been over to Northboro, and learned that Mr. Loring had taken poison in Northboro. Mr. Rhodes was stated to have received a letter from Mr. Robbins of Framingham giving all the particulars. Mr. Wild, it was said, had also got a letter from his son Silas in Framingham, to whom he had written, which confirmed the report…A child at school wrote to her parents at Northboro, telling the news. Mrs. Loring’s sister lives there, and it chances that her husband committed suicide. They were, therefore, slow to communicate the news to her, but at length could not contain themselves longer and told it. The sister was terribly affected; wrote to her son ([David] L[oring].’s nephew) in Worcester, who immediately took the cars and went to Framingham and he arrived there met his uncle just putting his family into the cars. He shook his hand very heartily indeed, looking, however, hard at his throat, but said not a word about his errand. (Journal, 10:215-216)

30 November. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau observes “A still, warm, cloudy, rain-threatening day” (Journal, 10:216)

1 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Walking in Ebby Hubbard’s woods, I hear a red squirrel barking at me amid the pine and oak tops, and now I see him coursing from tree to tree. How securely he travels there, fifty feet from the ground, leaping from the slender, bending twig of one tree across an interval of three or four feet and catching at the nearest twig of the next, which so bends under him that it is at first hard to get up it. his travelling a succession of leaps in the air at that height without wings! And yet he gets along about as rapidly as on the ground. (Journal, 10:218)

2 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

I find that, according to the deed of Duncan Ingraham to John Richardson in 1797, my old bean-field on Walden Pond then belonged to George Minott. (Minott thinks he bought it off an Allen.) This was Deacon George Minott, who lived in the house next below the East Quarter schoolhouse, and was a brother of my grandfather-in-law. He was directly descended from Thomas Minott, who, according to Shattuck, was secretary of the Abbot of Walden (!) in Essex, and whose son  George was born at Saffron Walden (!) and afterwards was one of the earliest settlers of Dorchester. (Journal, 10:219)

3 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau surveys the Richardson lot near Walden Pond. (Journal, 10:219)

4 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau surveys Richardson’s Fair Haven lot. (Journal, 10: 220)

5 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes “At noon a few flakes fell.” (Journal, 10:220)

6 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal: “Flannery tells me he is cutting in Holbrook’s Swamp, in the Great Meadows, a lonely place. He sees a fox repeatedly there, and also a white weasel, — once with a mouse in its mouth, in the swamp.” (Journal, 10:220)

7 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes, “Running the long northwest side of Richardson’s Fair Haven Lot. It is a fair, sunny, and warm day in the woods for the season.” (Journal, 10:220)

8 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

Staples says he came to Concord some twenty-four years ago a poor boy with a dollar and three cents in his pocket, and he spent the three cents for a drink at Bigelow’s tavern, and now he’s worth “twenty hundred dollars clear.” He remembers many who inherited wealth whom he can buy out to-day. I told him that he had done better than I in a pecuniary respect, for I had only earned my living. (Journal, 10:221)

13 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

In sickness and barrenness it is encouraging to believe that our life is dammed and is coming to a head, so that there seems to be no loss, for what is lost in time is gained in power. All at once, unaccountably, as we are walking in the woods or sitting in our chamber, after a worthless fortnight, we cease to feel mean and barren. (Journal, 10:222)

15 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes about finding a dead bird. (Journal, 10:223-224)

20 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau travels “To Easterbrooks Country with [Daniel] Ricketson.

A hen-hawk circling over that wild region. See its red tail.

The cellar stairs at the old Hunt house are made of square oak timbers; also the stairs to the chamber of the back part of apparently square maple (?) timber, much worn. The generous cellar stairs!” (Journal,10:224)

21 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

Walking over the Andromeda Ponds between Walden and Fair Haven, which have only frozen just enough to bear me, I see in springy parts, where the ice is thin, good-sized pollywogs wiggling away, scared by the sound of my steps and cracking of the ice. They appear to keep in motion in such muddy pond-holes, where a spring wells up from the bottom till midwinter, if not all winter. (Journal, 10:224)

25 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes “Surveying for heirs of J. Richardson, G. Heywood and A. Brooks accompanying.” (Journal,10:224)

26 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes,

Snows all day,— first snow of any consequence, three or four inches in all.

Humphrey Buttrick tells me that he has shot little dippers. He also saw the bird which Melvin shot last summer (a coot), but he never saw one of them before. The little dipper must, therefore, be different from a coot. Is it not a grebe? (Journal, 10:225)

27 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

The commonest and cheapest sounds, as the barking of a dog produce the same effect on fresh and healthy ears that the rarest music does. it depends on your appetite for sound. Just as crust is sweeter to a healthy appetite than a confection-ery to a pampered or diseased one. It is better that these cheap sounds be music to us than that we have the rarest cars for music in any other sense. I have lain awake at night many a time to think of the barking of a dog which I had heard long before, bathing me being again in those waves of sound, as a frequenter of the opera might lie awake remembering the music he had heard….

One while we do not wonder that so many commit suicide, life is so barren and worthless; we only live on by an effort of the will. Suddenly our condition is ameliorated, and even the barking of a dog is a pleasure to us. So closely is our happiness bound up with our physical condition, and one reacts on the other.

Do not despair of life. You have no doubt force enough to overcome your obstacles. Think of the fox prowling through wood and field in a winter night for something to satisfy his hunger. Notwithstanding cold and the hounds and traps, his race survives. (Journal, 10:227-228)

31 December. Concord, Mass. 1857.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

After some rain yesterday and in the night, there was a little more snow, and the ground is still covered. I am surprised to find Walden still closed since Sunday night, notwithstanding the warm weather since it skimmed over, and that Goose Pond bears, though covered with slosh; but ice under water is slow to thaw. it does not break up so soon as you would expect. Walking over it, I thought I saw an old glove on the ice or slosh, but, approaching, found it to be a bull-frog, flat on its belly with its legs stretched out…I found it to be alive, though it could only partially open its eyes…It was evidently nearly chilled to death and could not jump, though there was then no freezing. I looked round a good while and finally found a hole to put it into, squeezing it through. Perhaps in such warm rain the surface water becomes warmer that at the bottom, and so tempts the frogs up onto the ice through a hole, This one was wholly unscathed by any animal, but would have surely frozen stiff in the night. (Journal, 10:229)

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