June 11, 1858. p. m. To Assabet Bath. . . . Saw a painted turtle on the gravelly bank, . . . and suspected that she had just been laying (it was mid p. m.), so, examining the ground, I found the surface covered with loose lichens, etc., about one foot behind her, and, digging, found five eggs just laid, one and one-half or two inches deep, under one side. It is remarkable how firmly they are packed in the soil, rather hard to extract, though but just laid. . . .
Saw half a dozen of the insculptæ preparing to dig now at mid p. m. (one or two had begun), at the most gravelly spot there, but they would not proceed while I watched, though I waited nearly half an hour, but either rested perfectly still, with their heads drawn partly in, or when a little further off, stood warily looking about, with their aiecks stretched out, turning their anxious-looking heads about. It seems a very earnest and pressing business they are upon. They have but a short season to do it in, and they run many risks.
Having succeeded in finding the Emys picta's eggs, I thought I would look for the Emys insculpta's at Abel Hosmer's rye field; so, looking carefully to see where the ground had been recently disturbed, I dug with my hand, and could directly feel the passage to the eggs. So I discovered two or three nests with their large and long eggs, five in one of them. It seems then, that if you look carefully soon after the eggs are laid in such a place, you can find the nests, though rain or even a dewy night might conceal the spot.
June 11, 1860. 10.30 a. m. Sail on the river. . . . The evergreens are now invested by the deciduous trees, and you get the full effect of their dark-green contrasting with the yellowish-green of the deciduous trees. . . .
I see from time to time a fish, scared by our sail, leap four to six feet through the air above the waves. . . .
Just within the edge of the wood, . . . I see a small painted turtle on its back, with its head stretched out as if to turn over. Surprised by the sight, I stooped to investigate the case. It drew in its head at once, bui I noticed that its shell was partially empty. I could see through it from side to side, as it lay, its entrails having been extracted through large openings just before the hind legs. The dead leaves were flattened for a foot around where it had been operated on, and were a little bloody. Its paunch lay on the leaves, and contained much vegetable matter, old cranberry leaves, etc. Judging by the striae, it was not more than five or six years old (or four or five). Its fore-parts were quite alive, its hind legs apparently dead, its inwards gone, apparently its spine perfect. The flies had entered it in numbers. What creature had done this which it would be difficult for a man to do? I thought of a skunk, weasel, mink, but I do not believe they could have got their snouts into so small a space as that in front of the hind legs, between the shells. The hind legs themselves had not been injured, nor the shell scratched. I thought it likely that this was done by some bird of the heron kind which has a long and powerful bill. This may account for the many dead turtles which I have found, and thought died from disease. Such is Nature, who gave one creature a taste or yearning for another's entrails as its favorite tid-bit! I thought the more of a bird, for just as we were shoving away from this isle, I heard a sound just like, a small dog barking hoarsely, and looking up saw it was made by a bittern (Ardea minor), a pair of which were flapping over the meadows, and probably had a nest in some tussock thereabouts. No wonder the turtle is wary, for notwithstanding its horny shell, when it comes forth to lay its eggs, it runs the risk of having its entrails plucked out. That is the reason that the box turtle, which lives entirely on the land, is made to shut itself up entirely within its shell, and I suspect that the mud tortoise only comes forth by night. What need the turtle has of some homy shield over those weaker parts, avenues to its entrails. I saw several of these painted turtles dead on the bottom.
Already I see those handsome fungi on the red maple leaves, yellow within, with a green centre, then the light red ring deepening to crimson.
On our way up, we eat our dinner at Eice's shore, and looked over the meadows covered there with waving sedge, light glaucous as it is bent by the wind, reflecting a grayish or light glaucous light from its under-side.
Looking at a hill-side of young trees, what various shades of green. The oaks generally are a light, tender, and yellowish-green. The white birches dark green now. The maples dark and silvery.
The white lily-pads, reddish, and showing their crimson under-sides from time to time, when the wind blows hardest.
June 12, 1851. Listen to music religiously, as if it were the last strain you might hear.
There would be this advantage in traveling in your own country, even in your own neighborhood, that you would be so thoroughly prepared to understand what you saw. You would make fewer traveler s mistakes.
Is not he hospitable who entertains thoughts?
June 12, 1852. p. m. To Lupine Hill via Depot Field Brook. The meadows are yellow with golden senecio. Marsh speedwell, Veronica scutellata, lilac tinted, rather pretty. The mouse-ear forget-me-not, Myosotis laxa, has now extended its racemes? very much, and hangs over the edge of the brook. It is one of the most interesting minute flowers. It is the more beautiful for being small and unpretending; even flowers must be modest. The blue flag, Iris versicolor. Its buds are a dark, indigo-blue tip beyond the green calyx. It is rich, but hardly delicate and simple enough. A very handsome, sword-shaped leaf. The blue-eyed grass is one of the most beautiful of flowers.; It might have been famous from Proserpine down. It will bear to be praised by poets.
The blue flag, notwithstanding its rich furniture, its fringed, re-curved parasols over its anthers, and its variously streaked and colored petals, is loose and coarse in its habit. How completely all character is expressed by flowers. This is a little too showy and gaudy, like some women's bonnets. Yet it belongs to the meadow and ornaments it much. Ever it will be some obscure, small, and modest flower that will most please us.
How difficult, if not impossible, to do the things we have done, as fishing and camping out. They seem to me a little fabulous now. Boys are bathing at Hubbard's Bend, playing with a boat, I at the willows. The color of their bodies in the sun at a distance is pleasing, the not often seen flesh color. I hear the sound of their sport borne over the water. As yet we have not man in Nature. What a singular fact for an angel visitant to this earth to carry back in his notebook, that men were forbidden to expose their bodies under the severest penalties! A pale pink which the sun would soon tan. White man! There are no white men to contrast with the red and the black. They are of such colors as the weaver gives them. I wonder that the dog knows his master when he goes in to bathe, and does not stay by his clothes.
Small white-bellied (?) swallows in a row (a dozen) on the telegraph wire over the water by the bridge. This perch is little enough departure from unobstructed air to suit them. Pluming themselves. If you could furnish a perch aerial enough, even birds of paradise would alight. They do not alight on trees, methinks, unless on dead and bare boughs, but stretch a wire over water, and they perch on it. This is among the phenomena that cluster about the telegraph. The swallow has a forked tail, and wings and tail are of about the same length. . . .
Some fields are almost wholly covered with sheep's sorrel, now turned red, its valves (?). It helps thus agreeably to paint the earth, contrasting even at a distance with the greener fields, blue sky, and dark or downy clouds. It is red, marbled, watered, mottled, or waved with greenish, like waving grain, three or four acres of it. To the farmer or grazier it is a troublesome weed, but to the landscape viewer, an agreeable red tinge laid on by the painter. I feel well into summer when I see this red tinge. It appears to be avoided by the cows. The petals of the side-saddle flower, fully expanded, hang down. How complex it is, what with flowers and leaves! It is a wholesome and interesting plant to me, the leaf especially.
. . . The glory of Dennis's lupines is departed, and the white now shows in abundance beneath them. So I cannot walk longer in those fields of Enna in which Proserpine amused herself gathering flowers.
The steam whistle at a distance sounds even like the hum of a bee in a flower. So man's works fall into Nature. The flies hum at mid-afternoon, as if peevish and weary at the length of the days. The river is shrunk to summer width, on the sides smooth, whitish water, or rather it is the light from the pads; in the middle, dark blue or slate, rippled. The color of the earth at a distance where a wood has been cut off is a reddish brown. . . .
It is day, and we have more of that same light that the moon sent us, not reflected now, but shining directly. The sun is a fuller moon. Who knows how much lighter day there may be!
June 12, 1853. p. m. To Bear Hill. . . . The laurel probably by day after to-morrow.
The note of the wood-thrush answers to some cool, unexhausted morning vigor in the hearer. The leaf of the rattlesnake plantain now surprises the walker amid the dry leaves on cool hill-sides in the woods; of very simple form, but richly veined with longitudinal and transverse white veins. It looks like art.
Going up Pine Hill, disturbed a partridge and her brood. She ran in dishabille directly to me, within four feet, while her young, not larger than chickens just hatched, dispersed, flying along a foot or two from the ground, just over the bushes, for a rod or more. The mother kept close at hand to attract my attention, and mewed and clucked, and made a noise as when a hawk is in sight. She stepped about and held her head above the bushes, and clucked just like a hen. What a remarkable instinct, that which keeps the young so silent, and prevents their peeping and betraying themselves! This wild bird will run almost any risk to save her young. The young, I believe, make a fine sound at first, in dispersing, something like a cherry-bird.
Visited the great orchis which I am waiting to have open completely. It is emphatically a flower (within gunshot of the hawk's nest); its great spike, six inches by two, of delicate, pale purple flowers which begin to expand at bottom, rises above and contrasts with the green leaves of the hellebore, skunk-cabbage, and ferns (by which its own leaves are concealed), in the cool shade of an alder swamp. It is the more interesting for its variety and the secluded situations in which it grows, owing to which it is seldom seen, not thrusting itself upon the observation of men. It is a pale purple, as if from growing in the shade. It is not remarkable in its stalk and leaves, which, indeed, are commonly concealed by other plants.
A wild moss rose in Arethusa Meadow where are arethusas lingering still. The side-saddle flowers are partly turned up now, and make a great show with their broad red petals flapping like saddle ears (?). . . . I visited my hawk's nest, and the young hawk was perched now four or five feet above the nest, still in the shade. It will soon fly. So now in secluded pine woods the young hawks sit high on the edges of their nests, or on the twigs near by, in the shade, waiting for their pinions to grow, while their parents bring to them their prey. Their silence also is remarkable, not to betray themselves, nor will the old bird go to the nest while you are in sight. She pursues me half a mile when I withdraw.
The buds of young white oaks which have been frost-bitten are just pushing forth again. Are these such as were intended for next year, at the base of the leaf stalk?
June 12, 1854. p. m. To Walden. Clover now reddens the fields, grass in its prime. . . . With the roses now fairly begun, I associate summer heats. . . .
Hear the evergreen forest note, and see the bird on the top of a white pine, somewhat creeper-like along the boughs. A golden head, except a black streak from eyes, black throat, slate-colored back, forked tail, white beneath, er te, ter ter te. Another bird with yellow throat, near by, may have been of the other sex.
Scared a kingfisher, on a bough over Walden. As he flew off, he hovered two or three times thirty or forty feet above the pond, and at last dove and apparently caught a fish with which he flew off low over the water to a tree.
Mountain laurel at the pond.
June 12, 1855. Down river to swamp east of Poplar Hill. I hear the toad still, which I have called spray frog falsely. He sits close to the edge of the water, and is hard to find. Hard to tell the direction though you may be within three feet. I detect him chiefly by the motion of the great swelling bubble on his throat. A peculiarly rich sprayey dreamer now at 2 p. m. How serenely it ripples over the water! What a luxury life is to him! I have to use a little geometry to detect him. Am surprised at my discovery at last, while C. sits by incredulous. Had turned our prow to shore to search. This rich sprayey note possesses all the shore. It diffuses itself far and wide over the water, and enters into every crevice of the noon, and you cannot tell whence it proceeds.
Young redwings now begin to fly feebly amid the button bushes, and the old ones chatter their anxiety.
In the thick swamp behind the hill I look at the vireo's nest which C. found. . . . He took one cow-bird's egg from it, and I now take the other which he left. There is no vireo's egg, and it is said they always desert their nest when there are two cow-bird's eggs laid in it.
Nuttall says of the cow-bird's egg: "If the egg be deposited in the nest alone, it is uniformly forsaken;"—has seen "sometimes two of these eggs in the same nest, but in this case one of them commonly proves abortive,"—"is almost oval, scarcely larger than that of the bluebird." He says it is " thickly sprinkled with points and confluent touches of olive brown, of two shades, somewhat more numerous at the greater end, on a white ground tinged with green. But in some of these eggs the ground is almost pure white, and the spots nearly black."
June 12, 1859. p. m. To Gowing's Swamp. I am struck with the beauty of the sorrel now. What a wholesome red ! It is densest in parallel lines, according to the plowing or cultivation. There is hardly a more agreeable sight at this season.
June 12, 1860. p. m. Up Assabet. I find several Emys insculpta nests and eggs, and see two painted turtles going inland to lay, at 2 p. m. At this moment these turtles are on their way inland, to lay their eggs, all over the State, warily drawing in their heads and waiting when you come by. Here is a painted turtle just a rod inland, its back all covered with the fragments of green leaves blown off and washed up yesterday, which now line the shore. It has come out through this wrack. As the river has gone down, these green leaves mark the bank in lines, like saw-dust. June 13, 1851. Walked to Walden last night (moon not quite full). I noticed night before last from Fair Haven how valuable was some water by moonlight, like the river and Fair Haven, though far away, reflecting the light with a faint glimmering sheen, as in the spring of the year. The water shines with an inward light, like a heaven on earth. The silent depth and serenity and majesty of water! Strange that men should distinguish gold and diamonds, when these precious elements are so common. I saw a distant river by moonlight, making no noise, yet flowing, as by day, still to the sea, like melted silver, reflecting the moonlight. Far away it lay encircling the earth. How far away it may look in the night! Even from a low hill, miles away down in the valley! As far off as Paradise and the delectable country! There is a certain glory attends on water by night. By it the heavens are related to the earth, undistinguishable from a sky beneath you. After I reached the road, I saw the moon suddenly reflected from a pool, the earth, as it were, dissolved beneath my feet. The magical moon, with attendant stars, suddenly looking up with mild lustre from a window in the dark earth. I observed also, the same night, a halo about my shadow in the moonlight, which I referred to the accidentally lighter color of the surrounding surface, but on transferring it to the darkest patches I saw the halo there equally. It serves to make the outline of the shadow more distinct.
But now for last night. A few fire-flies in the meadow. Do they shine, though invisibly, by day? Is their candle lighted by day?—It is not night-fall till the whippoorwills begin to sing.
As I entered the Deep Cut, I was affected by beholding the first faint reflection of genuine, unmixed moonlight on the eastern sand-bank, while the horizon, yet red with day, was tinging the western side. What an interval between these two lights! The light of the moon, in what age of the world does that fall upon the earth? The moonlight was as the earliest and dewy morning light, and the daylight tinge reminded me much more of the night. There were the old and new dynasties contrasted, and an interval between, not recognized in history, which time could not span. Nations have flourished in that light.
When I had climbed the sand-bank on the left, I felt the warmer current or stratum of air on my cheek, like a blast from a furnace.
The white stems of the pines which reflected the weak light, standing thick and close together, while their lower branches were gone, reminded me that the pines are only longer grasses, which rise to a chaffy head, and we the insects that crawl between them. They are particularly grass-like.
I heard the partridge drumming to-night as late as nine o'clock. What a singularly space-penetrating and filling sound! Why am I never nearer to its source?
We do not commonly live our life out and full; we do not fill all our extremities with our blood; we do not inspire and expire fully and entirely enough, so thaf the wave, the comber of each inspiration, shall break upon our extremest shores, rolling till it meets the sand which bounds us, and the sound of the surf come back to us. Might not a bellows assist us to breathe? . . . Why do we not let on the flood, raise the gates, and set all our wheels in motion? He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Employ your senses.
The newspapers tell us of news not to be named even with that in its own kind, which an observing man can pick up in a solitary walk, as if it gained some importance and dignity by its publicness. Do we need to be advertised each day that such is still the routine of life?
The tree-toad's, too, is a summer-sound. I hear, just as the night sets in, faint notes from time to time, from some sparrow (?) falling asleep, a vesper hymn; and later, in the woods, the chuckling, rattling sound of some unseen bird on the near trees.—The night-hawk booms wide awake.
As I approached the pond down Hubbard's path, after coming out of the woods into a warmer air, I saw the shimmering of the moon on its surface; and in the near, now flooded cove, the water bugs, now darting, circling about, made streaks or curves of light. The moon's inverted pyramid of shimmering light commenced about twenty rocls off, like so much micaceous sand. But I was startled to see midway in the dark water, a bright flame like more than phosphorescent light, crowning the crests of the wavelets, which at first I mistook for fire-flies. . . . It had the appearance of a pure smokeless flame, half a dozen inches long, rising from the water and bending flickeringly along its surface. I thought of St. Elmo's lights and the like. But coming near to the shore of the pond itself, these flames increased, and I saw that even this was so many broken reflections of the moon's disk, though one would have said they were of an intenser light than the moon herself. From contrast with the surrounding water they were. Standing up close to the shore and nearer the rippled surface, I saw the reflections of the moon sliding clown the watery concave, like so many lustrous burnished coins poured from a bag with inexhaustible lavishness, and the lambent flames on the surface were much multiplied, seeming to slide along a few inches with each wave before they were extinguished; and I saw from farther and farther off, they gradually merged in the general sheen, which in fact was made up of a myriad little mirrors reflecting the disk of the moon with equal brightness to an eye rightly placed. The pyramid or sheaf of light which we see springing from near where we stand is in fact only that portion of the shimmering surface which our eye takes in. To a myriad eyes suitably placed, the whole surface of the pond would be seen to shimmer, or rather it would be seen, as the waves turned up their mirrors, to be covered with those bright flame-like reflections of the moon's disk, like a myriad candles everywhere arising from the waves. . . .
As I climbed the hill again toward my old bean-field, I listened to the ancient, familiar, immortal, cricket sound under all others, hearing at first some distinct chirps. But when these ceased, I was aware of the general earth song which I had not before perceived, and amid which these were only taller flowers in a bed, and I wondered if behind or beneath this there was not some other chant yet more universal. Why do we not hear when this begins in the spring? and when it ceases in the fall? or is it too gradual?—After getting into the road I have no thought to record. All the way home the walk is comparatively barren.
June 13, 1852. 3 p. m. To Conantum. . . . The river has a summer mid-day look, smooth, with green shores, and shade from the trees on its banks.
What a sweetness fills the air now in low grounds or meadows, reminding me of times when I went strawberrying years ago. It is as if all meadows were filled with some sweet mint.
The Dracaena borealis (Bigelow), Clintonia borealis (Gray), amid the Solomon's-seals in Hubbard's Grove Swamp, a very neat and hand some liliaceous flower, with three large, regular, spotless green convallaria leaves, making a triangle from the root, and sometimes a fourth from the scape, linear, with four drooping, greenish-yellow, bell-shaped (?) flowers. It is a handsome and perfect flower, though not high-colored. I prefer it to some more famous. But Gray should not have named it from the Governor of New York. What is he to the lovers of flowers in Massachusetts? If named after a man, it must be a man of flowers. Rhode Island may as well name the flowers after her governors as New York. Name your canals and railroads after Clinton, if you please, but his name is not associated with flowers.
The buckbean grows in Conant's meadow. Lambkill is out. I remember with what delight I used to discover this flower in dewy mornings. All things in this world must be seen with the morning dew on them, must be seen with youthful, early opened, hopeful eyes.
Saw four cunning little woodchucks, about one-third grown, that live under Conant's old house, nibbling the short grass. Mistook one for a piece of rusty iron.
The Smilax herbacea, carrion flower, a rank green vine, with long peduncled umbels, small greenish or yellowish flowers, and tendrils, just opening, at the Miles swamp. It smells exactly like a dead rat in the wall, and apparently attracts flies like carrion. I find small gnats in it. A very remarkable odor. A single minute flower, in an umbel, open, will scent a whole room. Nature imitates all things in flowers. They are at once the most beautiful and the ugliest objects, the most fragrant, and the most offensive to the nostrils.
The great leaves of the bass attract one now, six inches in diameter.
The delicate maiden-hair fern forms a cup or dish, very delicate and graceful. Beautiful, too, its glossy black stem and its wave-edged, fruited leaflets.
I hear the feeble, plaintive note of young bluebirds, just trying their wings or getting used to them. Young robins peep.
I think I know four kinds of cornel beside the dogwood and bunchberry. One now in bloom, with rather small leaves, which have a smooth, silky feeling beneath, and a greenish gray spotted stem, old stocks all gray (Cornus alternifolia? or sericea?). The broad-leaved cornel in Laurel Glen, yet green in the bud (Cornus circinata?). The small-leaved cornel, with a small cyme or corymb as late as the last (Cornus paniculata), and the red osier by the river (Cornus stolonifera), which I have not seen this year.
June 13, 1853. 9 a. m. To Orchis Swamp.—I find that there are two young hawks. One has left the nest, and is perched on a small maple seven or eight rods distant. It appears much smaller than the former one. I am struck by its large naked head, so vulture-like, and large eyes, as if the vulture s were an inferior stage through which the hawk passed. Its feet, too, are large, remarkably developed, by which it holds to its perch securely, like an old bird, before its wings can perform their office. It has a buff breast, striped with dark brown. P———, when I told him of this nest, said he would like to carry one of his rifles down there. But I told him that I should be sorry to have them killed, I would rather save one of these hawks than have a hundred hens and chickens. It was worth more to see them soar, especially now that they are so rare in the landscape. It is easy to buy eggs, but not to buy hen-hawks. My neighbors would not hesitate to shoot the last pair of hen-hawks in the town to save a few of their chickens! But such economy is narrow and groveling. I would rather never taste chickens meat nor hens eggs than never to see a hawk sailing through the upper air again. The sight is worth incomparably more than a chicken soup or boiled egg. So we exterminate the deer and substitute the hog. It was amusing to observe the swaying to and fro of the young hawk's head to counterbalance the gentle action of the bough in the wind.
Violets appear to be about done generally. Four-leaved loosestrife just out; also, the smooth wild rose yesterday. The pogonia at Forget-me-not Brook.
What was that rare and beautiful bird in the dark woods under the Cliffs, with black above and white spots and bars, a large triangular blood-red spot on breast, and sides of breast and beneath, white? Note, a warble, like the oriole, but softer and sweeter. It was quite tame. Probably a rose-breasted grossbeak. At first I thought it was a chewink, as it sat sideways to me, and was going to call Sophia to look at it, but then it turned its breast full toward me, and I saw the large, triangular, blood-red spot occupying the greater part of it. . . . It is a memorable event to meet with so rare a bird. Birds answer to flowers, both in their abundance and their rareness. The meeting with a rare and beautiful bird like this is like meeting with some rare and beautiful flower, which you may never find again per chance, like the great purple-fringed orchis, at least. How much it enhances the wildness and the richness of the forest.
June 13, 1854. 2 p. m. By boat to Bittern Cliff, and so to Lee's Cliff. I hear the muttering of thunder and see a dark cloud in the horizon; am uncertain how far up stream I shall get.
Now in shallow places near the bends the large and conspicuous spikes of the broad-leaved potamogeton rise thickly above the water. . . .
I see the yellow water ranunculus in dense fields now in some places on the side of the stream, two or three inches above water, and many gone to seed.
The flowering fern is reddish and yellowish-green on the meadows.
It is so warm that I stop to drink wherever there is a spring.
The little globular, drooping, reddish buds of the Chimaphila umbellata (pipsissewa) are now very pretty.
How beautiful the solid cylinders of the lamb-kill now just before sunset, small ten-sided rosy-crimson basins, about two inches above the recurved, drooping, dry capsules of last year, and sometimes those of the year before, two inches lower.
When I have stayed out thus till late, many miles from home, and have heard a cricket beginning to chirp louder near me in the grass, I have felt that I was not far from home after all. Began to be weaned from my village home.
I see over the bream nests little schools of countless minute minnows (can they be young breams?), the breams being still in their nests.
It is surprising how thickly-strewn our soil is with arrow heads. I never see the surface broken in sandy places but I think of them. I find them on all sides, not only in corn, grain, potato, and bean fields, but in pastures and woods, by woodchucks holes and pigeon beds, and, as to-night, in a pasture where a restless cow had pawed the ground.
Is not the rosa lucida paler than the nitida?
June 13, 1860. 2 p. m. To Martial Miles's via Clamshell. I see at Martial Miles's two young woodchucks taken sixteen days ago, when they were perhaps a fortnight old. There were four in all, and they were dug out by the aid of a dog. The mother successively pushed out her little ones to the dog to save herself, and one was at once killed by the dog. These two are now nearly one third grown. They have found a hole within the house, into which they run, and whither they have carried shavings, etc., and made a nest. Thence they run out doors and feed close about the house, lurking behind barrels, etc. They eat yarrow, clover, catnip, etc., and are fed with milk and bread. They do not drink the milk like a dog or a cat, but simply suck it, taking the sharp edge of the shallow tin dish in their mouths. They are said to spit like a cat. They eat bread sitting upright on their haunches, and holding it in their forepaws just like a squirrel. That is their common and natural mode of eating. They are as gray (hoary) as the old, or grayer. Mrs. Miles says they sleep on their heads, i. e., curling their heads under them; also, that they can back as straight into their hole as if they went head foremost. I saw a full-grown one this p. m. which stood so erect and still (its paws hanging down and inobvious as its ears) that it might be mistaken for a short and very stout stake.
This p. m. the streets are strewn with the leaves of the button-wood, which are still falling. Looking up, I see many more half-formed leaves hanging wilted or withered. I think that the leaves of these trees were especially injured by the cold wind of the 10th, and are just now falling in consequence. I can tell when I am under a button-wood by the number of leaves on the ground. With the other trees it was mainly a mechanical injury, done rather by the wind than the cold, but the tender shoots of this tree were killed.
June 14, 1840.
"In glory and in joy, Behind his plough, upon the mountain side."
I seemed to see the woods wave on a hundred mountains, as I read these lines, and the distant rustling of their leaves reached my ear.
June 14, 1851. Full moon last night. Set out on a walk to Conantum at 7 p. m. A serene evening, the sun going down behind clouds. A few white or slightly-shaded piles of clouds floating in the eastern sky, but a broad, clear, mellow cope left for the moon to rise into. An evening for poets to describe. As I proceed along the back road I hear the lark still singing in the meadow, and the bobolink, the golden robin on the elms, and the swallows twittering about the barns. All Nature is in an expectant attitude. Before Goodwin's house at the opening of the Sudbury road, the swallows are diving at a tortoise-shell cat who cavorts rather awkwardly as if she did not know whether to be scared or not. And now, the sun having buried himself in the low cloud in the west and hung out his crimson curtain, I hear, while sitting by the wall, the sound of the stake-driver at a distance, like that made by a man pumping in a neighboring farm-yard, watering his cattle, or like chopping wood before his door on a frosty morning, and I can imagine it like driving a stake in a meadow. The pumper. I immediately went in search of the bird, but after going one third of a mile, it did not sound much nearer, and the two parts of the sound did not appear to proceed from the same place. What is the peculiarity of these sounds which penetrate so far on the key-note of Nature? At last I got near to the brook in the meadow behind Hubbard's wood, but I could not tell if it were farther or nearer than that. When I got within half a dozen rods of the brook, it ceased, and I heard it no more. I suppose that I scared it. As before I was farther off than I thought, so now I was nearer than I thought. It is not easy to understand how so small a creature can make so loud a sound by merely sucking or throwing out water with pump-like lungs. It was a sound as of gulping water.
Where my path crosses the brook in the meadow there is a singularly sweet scent in the heavy air where the brakes grow, the fragrance of the earth, as if the dew were a distillation of the fragrant essences of Nature.
And now, as I enter the embowered willow cause way, my senses are captivated again by a sweet fragrance. I know not if it be from a particular plant, or all together, sweet-scented vernal grass, or sweet briar. Now the sun is fairly gone, I hear the dreaming toad (?), and the whippoorwill from some darker wood, and the cuckoo. It is not far from eight. The song-sparrows sing quite briskly among the willows as if it were spring again, the blackbird's harsher note resounds over the meadow, and the veery's comes up from the wood. Fishes are dimpling the surface of the river, seizing the insects which alight. A solitary fisherman in his boat inhabits the scene. As I ascended the hill, I found myself in a cool, fragrant, dewy, up-country, mountain, morning air. The moon was now seen rising over Fair Haven, and at the same time reflected in the river, pale and white, like a silvery cloud barred with a cloud. In Conant's orchard I hear the faint cricket-like song of a sparrow, saying its vespers, as if it were a link between the cricket and the bird. The robin sings now, though the moon shines silvery, and the veery jingles its trill.
I hear the fresh and refreshing sound of falling water as I have heard it in New Hampshire. It is a sound we do not commonly hear.
How moderate, deliberate is Nature, how gradually the shades of night gather and deepen, giving man ample leisure to bid farewell to day, conclude his day s affairs, and prepare for slumber. The twilight seems out of proportion to the length of the day.
I see, indistinctly, oxen asleep in the fields, silent, in majestic slumber, reclining statuesque, Egyptian, like the Sphinx. What solid rest! How their heads are supported!
From Conant's summit I hear as many as fifteen whippoorwills, or whip-or-I-wills, at once, the succeeding cluck sounding strangely foreign, like a hewer at work elsewhere.
How sweet and encouraging it is to hear the sound of some artificial music from the midst of woods or from the top of a hill at night, borne on the breeze from some distant farm-house, the human voice, or a flute. That is a civilization one can endure, worth having. I could go about the world listening for the strains of music. Men use this gift but sparingly, nevertheless. What should we think of a bird which had the gift of song, but used it only once in a dozen years! like the plant which blossoms only once in a century.
Peabody says that the night-hawk retires to rest about the time the whippoorwill begins its song. The whippoorwill begins now at half-past seven. I hear the night-hawk after nine o'clock. He says the latter flies low in the evening, but it also flies high, as it must needs do to make the booming sound.
Not much before ten o'clock does the moonlight night begin, when man is asleep and day fairly forgotten. Then is the beauty of moonlight seen upon lonely pastures where cattle are silently feeding. Then let me walk in a diversified country of hill and dale, with heavy woods on one side, and copses and scattered trees enough to give me shadows. As I return, a mist is on the river, which is thus taken into the bosom of Nature again.
June 14, 1852. Saw a wild rose from the cars in Weston. The early red roses are out in gardens at home.
June 14, 1853. p. m. To White's Pond. Heard the first locust from amid the shrubs by the roadside. He comes with heat.
Snake sloughs are found nowadays, bleached and whitish.
I observed the cotton of aphides on the alders yesterday and to-day. How regularly these phenomena appear, even the stains or spots or galls on leaves, as that bright yellow on blackberry leaves and those ring spots on maple leaves I see to-day, exactly the same pattern with last year's, and the crimson frosting on the black birch leaves I saw the other day. Then there are the huckleberry apples and the large green puffs on the panicled andromeda, and also I see now the very light or whitish solid and juicy apples on the swamp pink with a fungus-like smell when broken.
Erigeron strigosum. Some white, some purplish, common now, and daisy-like. I put it rather early on the 9th.
Instead of the white lily which requires mud or the sweet flag, here grows the blue flag in the water, thinly about the shore. The color of the flower harmonizes singularly with the water. With our boat's prow to the shore, we sat half an hour this evening, listening to the bull-frogs. What imperturbable fellows! One sits perfectly still behind some blades of grass while the dog is chasing others within two feet. Some are quite handsome, large, and spotted. We see here and there light-colored, greenish, or white spots on the bottom, where a fish—a bream, perhaps—has picked away all the dead wood and leaves for her nest over a space of eighteen inches or more. Young bream, from one to three inches long, light- colored and transparent, are swimming about, and here and there a leech in the shallow water, moving as serpents are represented to do. Large devil's needles are buzzing back and forth. They skim along the edge of the blue flags, apparently quite round this cove or further, like hen-harriers beating the bush for game. And now comes a humming-bird, humming from the woods, and alights on the blossom of a blue flag. The bull-frogs begin with one or two notes, and with each peal add another trill to their trump, er roonk—er-er-roonk—er-er-er-roonk, etc. I am amused to hear one after another, and then an unexpectedly deep and confident bass, as if he had charged himself with more wind than the rest. And now, as if by a general agreement, they all trump together, making a deafening noise. Sometimes one jumps up a foot out of water in the midst of these concerts. What are they about? Suddenly a tree-toad in the overhanging woods begins, and another answers, and another, with loud ranging notes, such as I never heard before, and in three minutes they are all silent again. A red-eye sings on a tree top, and a cuckoo is heard from the wood. These are the evening sounds.
As we look over the water now, the opposite woods are seen dimly through what appears not so much the condensing dew and mist as the dry haziness of the afternoon now settled and condensed. The woods on the opposite shore have not the distinctness they had an hour before, but perhaps a more agreeable dimness, a sort of gloaming, or settling and thickening of the haze over the water, which melts tree into tree, they being no longer bright and distinct, and masses them agreeably, a bluish mistiness. This appears to be an earlier gloaming before sunset. . . .
This seems the true hour to be abroad, sauntering far from home. Your thoughts being already turned toward home, your walk in one sense ended, you are in that favorable frame of mind described by De Quincey, open to great impressions, and you see those rare sights with the unconscious side of the eye, which you could not see by a direct gaze before. Then the dews begin to descend in your mind, and its atmosphere is strained of all impurities. Home is farther away than ever; here is home. The beauty of the world impresses you. There is a coolness in your mind as in a well. Life is too grand for ripples. The wood-thrush launches forth his evening strains from the midst of the pines. I admire the moderation of this master. There is nothing tumultuous in his song. He launches forth one strain of pure, unmatchable melody, and then he pauses and gives the hearer and himself time to digest this, and then another and another at suitable intervals. Men talk of the rich song of other birds, the thrasher, mockingbird, nightingale. But I doubt, I doubt. They know not what they say. There is as great an interval between the thrasher and the wood-thrush as between Thompson's "Seasons" and Homer. The sweetness of the day crystallizes in this morning coolness.
June 14, 1854. Caught a locust, properly harvest fly, drumming on a birch, which ——— and ——— think like the septendecim, except that ours has not red eyes, but black ones. Harris says of the other kind, the dog-day cicada (canicularis) or harvest fly, that it begins to be heard invariably at the beginning of dog days; that he has heard it for many years in succession, with few exceptions, on the 25th of July.
June 14, 1857. [Plymouth.] B. M. W——— 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 Mauomet 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, raised some 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. The story is that Webster had appointed to meet some Plymouth gentlemen at Manomet and spend the day fishing with them. After the fishing was over he set out to return to Duxbury in his sail-boat with Peterson, as he had come, and on the way they saw the sea serpent, which answered to the common account of this creature. It passed directly across the bows only six or seven rods off, and then disappeared. On the sail homeward, Webster, having had time to reflect on what had occurred, at length said to Peterson, "For God's sake never say a word about this to any one, for if it should be known that I have seen the sea serpent, I should never hear the last of it, but, wherever I went, should have to tell the story to every one I met." So it has not leaked out till now.
W——— also tells me (and E. W——— confirms it, his father having probably been of the party) that many years ago a party of Plymouth gentlemen rode round by the shore to the Gurnet, and there had a high time. When they set out to return, they left one of their number, a General Winslow, asleep, and, as they rode along homeward, amused themselves with conjecturing what he would think when he waked up and found himself alone. When at length he awoke, he comprehended his situation at once, and, being somewhat excited by the wine he had drunk, he mounted his horse and rode along the shore to Saquish Head in the opposite direction. From here to Plymouth Beach is about a mile and a quarter, but, it being low tide, he waded his horse as far as the Beacon, north of the channel at the entrance to Plymouth Harbor, about three quarters of a mile, and then boldly swam him across to the end of Plymouth Beach, about half a mile further, notwithstanding a strong current. Having landed safely, he whipped up and soon reached the town, having come only about eight miles, and having ample time to warm and dry himself at the tavern before his companions arrived, who had at least twenty miles to ride about through Marshfield and Duxbury. When they found him sitting by the tavern fire, they at first thought it was his ghost.
June 14, 1859. p. m. To Flint's Pond.—Pout's nest with a straight entrance some twenty inches long and a simple round nest at end. The young, just hatched, all head, light colored, under a mass of weedy hummocks which is all under water.
The rose-breasted grossbeak is common now in the Flint's Pond woods. It is not at all shy, and our richest singer, perhaps, after the wood-thrush. The rhythm is very like that of the tanager, but the strain is perfectly clear and sweet. One sits on the bare dead twig of a chestnut high over the road at Gourgas wood, and over my head, and sings clear and loud at regular intervals, the strain about ten or fifteen seconds long, rising and swelling to the end with various modulations. Another, singing in emulation, regularly answers it, alternating with it, from a distance, at least a quarter of a mile off. It sings thus long at a time, and I leave it singing there, regardless of me.
June 14, 1860. p. m. To 2d Division. . . . The white water ranunculus is abundant in the brook, out, say a week, and well open in the sunshine. It is a pretty white flower, with yellow centre, seen above the dark-brown green leaves in the rapid water, its peduncle recurved so as to present the flower erect half an inch to an inch above the surface, while the buds are submerged.
June 15, 1840. I stood by the river to-day, considering the forms of the elms reflected in the water. For every oak and birch, too, growing on the hill-top, as well as for these elms and willows, there is a graceful, ethereal, and ideal tree making down from the roots, and sometimes Nature in high tides brings her mirror to its foot and makes it visible. Anxious Nature sometimes reflects from pools and puddles the objects which our groveling senses may fail to see relieved against the sky, with the pure ether for background.
It would be well if we saw ourselves as in perspective always, impressed with distinct outline on the sky, side by side with the shrubs on the river's brim. So let our life stand to heaven as some fair sun-lit tree against the western horizon, and by sunrise be planted on some eastern hill to glisten in the first rays of the dawn.
June 15, 1851. Saw the first wild rose to-day. The white weed has suddenly appeared, the clover gives whole fields a rich and florid appearance. The rich red and the sweet-scented white. The fields are blushing with the red as the western sky at evening.
The blue-eyed grass, well-named, looks up to heaven, and the yarrow, with its persistent dry stalks and heads, is now ready to blossom again. The dry stems and heads of last year's tansy stand high above the new green leaves.
I sit in the shade of the pines to hear a wood-thrush at noon; the ground smells of dry leaves; the heat is oppressive. The bird begins in a low strain, i. e., it first delivers a strain on a lower key, then, a moment after, another a little higher, then another still varied from the others, no two successive strains alike, but either ascending or descending. He confines himself to his few notes in which he is unrivaled, as if his kind had learned this and no more, anciently.
I perceive, as formerly, a white froth dripping from the pitch pines just at the base of the new shoots. It has no taste.
The polly wogs in the pond are now full-tailed. The hickory leaves are blackened by a recent frost, which reminds me that this is near their northern limit.
The rapidity with which the grass grows is remarkable. The 25th of May I walked to the hills in Wayland, and when I returned across lots do not remember that I had much occasion to think of the grass, or to go round any fields to avoid treading on it. But just a week afterward, at Worcester, it was high and waving in the fields, and I was to some extent confined to the road, and the same was the case here. Apparently in a month you get from fields which you can cross without hesitation, to haying time. It has grown you hardly know when, be the weather what it may, sunshine or storm.
I start up a solitary woodcock in the shade of some copse; it goes off with a startled, rattling, hurried note.
After walking by night several times, I now walk by day, but I am not aware of any crowning advantage in it. I see small objects better, but it does not enlighten me any. The day is more trivial.
What a careful gardener Nature is! She does not let the sun come out suddenly with all his intensity after rain and cloudy weather, but graduates the change to suit the tenderness of plants.
I see the tall crowfoot now in the meadows, Ranunculus acris; with a smooth stem. I do not notice the bulbosus which was so common a fortnight ago. The rose-colored flowers of the Kalmia angustifolia, lambkill, just opened and opening. The Convallaria bifolia growing stale in the woods. The Hieracium venosum, veiny-leaved hawk-weed, with its yellow blossoms, in the woodland path. The Hypoxis erecta, yellow Bethlehem star, where there is a thick wiry grass in open paths, might well be called yellow-eyed grass. The Pyrola asarifolia, with its pagoda-like stem of flowers, i. e., broad-leaved wintergreen. The Trientalis Americana, like last, in the woods, with its star-like white flower and pointed, whorled leaves. The prunella, too, is in blossom, and the rather delicate Thesium umbellatum, a white flower. The Solomon's-seal, with a greenish, drooping raceme of flowers at the top, I do not identify.
I find I postpone all actual intercourse with my friends to a certain real intercourse which takes place commonly when we are actually at a distance from one another.
June 15, 1852. Yesterday we smelt the sea strongly. The sea breeze alone made the day tolerable. This morning, a shower. The robin only sings, the louder for it. He is inclined to sing in foul weather.
To Clematis Brook. 1.30 p. m.
Very warm. This melting weather makes a stage in the year. The crickets creak louder and more steadily. The bull-frogs croak in ear nest. The dry z-ing of the locust is heard. The drouth begins. Bathing cannot be omitted. The conversation of all boys in the streets is whether they will or will not, or who will, go in a-swimming. . . . You lie with open windows and hear the sounds in the streets. The seringo sings now at noon on a post, has a light streak over eye. The autumnal dandelion. Leontodon or Apargia. Erigeron integrifolium or strigosum, i. e., narrow-leaved daisy fleabane of Gray, very common, like a white aster.
Men are inclined to be amphibious, to sympathize with fishes now. I desire to get wet, saturated with water. The North River, Assabet, by the old stone bridge, affords the best bathing-place I think of,—a pure, sandy, uneven bottom, with a swift current, a grassy bank, and over hanging maples, transparent water, deep enough, where you can see every fish in it. Though you stand still, you feel the rippling current about you.
Young robins, dark-speckled, and the pigeon woodpecker flies up from the ground and darts away.
The farm-houses under their shady trees look as if their inhabitants were taking their siesta at this hour. I pass Baker's in the rear through the open pitch-pine wood. . . . No scouring of tubs or cans now. They eat and all are gone to sleep preparing for an early tea, excepting the in defatigable, never-resting hoers in the cornfield, who have carried a jug of molasses and water to the field, and will wring their shirts to-night. I shall ere long hear the horn blow for their early tea. The wife or the hired Irish woman steps to the door and blows the long tin horn, a cheering sound to the laborers in the field.
The motive of the laborer should be not to get his living, to get a good job, but to perform well a certain work. A town must pay its engineers so well that they shall not feel they are working for low ends, as for a livelihood mainly, but for scientific ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him. who does it for love, and pay him well.
On Mount Misery, panting with heat, looking down the river. The haze an hour ago reached to Wachusett; now it obscures it.
Methinks there is a male and female shore to the river, one abrupt, the other flat and meadowy. Have not all streams this contrast more or less,—on the one hand eating into the bank, on the other depositing their sediment?
The year is in its manhood now. The very river looks warm, and there is none of that light celestial blue seen in far reaches in the spring.
I see fields a mile distant reddened with sorrel.
The very sight of distant water is refreshing, though a bluish steam appears to rise on it. How refreshing the sound of the smallest waterfall in hot weather. I sit by that on Clematis Brook, and listen to its music. The very sight of this half stagnant pond-hole drying up and leaving bare mud, with the pollywogs and turtles making off in it, is agreeable and encouraging to behold, as if it contained the very seeds of life, the liquor, rather, boiled down. The foulest water will bubble purely. They speak to our blood, even these stagnant, slimy pools. Even this water has, no doubt, its falls nobler than Montmorenci, grander than Niagara, in the course of its circulations.
Cattle walk along now in a brook or ditch for coolness, lashing their tails, and browse the edges; or they stand concealed for shade amid thick bushes. How perfectly acquainted they are with man.
I hear the scream of a great hawk sailing with a ragged wing against the high wood side, apparently to scare his prey, and so detect it, shrill, harsh, fitted to excite terror in sparrows, and to issue from his split and curved bill, spit with force from his mouth with an undulatory quaver imparted to it from his wings or motion as he flies. I see his open bill the while against the sky. A hawk's ragged wing will grow whole again, but so will not a poet's.
Here at Well Meadow head I see the fringed purple orchis, unexpectedly beautiful, though a pale lilac purple, a large spike of purple flowers. I find two [of the same species], the grandiflora of Bigelow and fimbriata of Gray. Bigelow thinks it the most beautiful of all the orchises. . . . Why does it grow there only, far in a swamp, remote from public view? It is some what fragrant, reminding me of the lady's slipper. Is it not significant that some rare and delicate and beautiful flowers should be found only in unfrequented wild swamps? . . . Yet I am not sure but this is a fault in the flower. It is not quite perfect in all its parts. A beautiful flower must be simple, not spiked. It must have a fair stem and leaves. The stem is rather naked, and the leaves are for shade and moisture. It is fairest seen rising from amid brakes and hellebore, its lower part, or rather naked stein, concealed. Where the most beautiful wild flowers grow, there man's spirit is fed and poets grow. It cannot be high-colored, growing in the shade. Nature has taken no pains to exhibit it, and few that bloom are ever seen by mortal eyes.
There are few really cold springs. How few men can be believed when they say one is cold. I go out of my way to the Boiling Spring. It is as cold as the coldest well water. What a treasure is such a spring! Who divined it?
8 p. m. On river. No moon. A deafening sound from toads, and intermittingly from bull frogs. What I have thought to be frogs prove to be toads, sitting by thousands along the shore, and trilling short and loud, not so long a quaver as in the spring. Arid I have not heard them in those pools, now indeed mostly dried up, where I heard them in the spring. (I do not know what to think of my midsummer frog now.) The bull-frogs are very loud, of various degrees of baseness and sonorousness, answering each other across the river with two or three grunting croaks. They are not now so numerous as the toads. It is candle light. The fishes leap. The meadows sparkle with the coppery light of fire-flies. The evening star, multiplied by undulating water, is like bright sparks of fire continually ascending. The reflections of the trees are generally indistinct. There is a low mist slightly enlarging the river, through which the arches of the stone bridge are just visible, as in a vision. The mist is singularly bounded, collected here while there is none there, close up to the bridge on one side and none on the other, depending apparently on currents of air. . . . There is a low crescent of northern light, and shooting stars from time to time. . . . I paddle with a bough, the Nile boatman's oar, which is rightly pliant, and you do not labor much.
June 15, 1853. p. m. To Trillium Woods. Clover now in its prime. What more luxuriant than a clover field. The poorest soil that is covered with it looks incomparably fertile. This is perhaps the most characteristic feature of June, resounding with the hum of insects, such a blush on the fields. The rude health of the sorrel cheek has given place to the blush of clover. Painters are wont, in their pictures of Paradise, to strew the field too thickly with flowers. There should be moderation in all things. Though we love flowers we do not want them so thick under our feet that we cannot walk without treading on them. But a clover field in bloom is some excuse for them. . . .
Here are many wild roses northeast of Trillium Woods. We are liable to underrate this flower, on account of its commonness. Is it not the queen of our flowers? How ample and high-colored its petals, glancing half concealed from its own green bowers. There is a certain noble and delicate civility about it, not wildness. It is properly the type of the rosaceæ, or flowers, among others, of most wholesome fruits. It is at home in the garden, as readily cultivated as apples. It is the pride of June. In summing up its attractions I should mention its rich color, size, and form, the rare beauty of its bud, its fine fragrance and the beauty of the entire shrub, not to mention the almost innumerable varieties it runs into. I bring home the buds ready to expand, put them into a pitcher of water, and the next morning they open, and fill my chamber with fragrance. This found in the wilderness must have reminded the Pilgrim of home.
For a week past I have heard the cool, watery-note of the goldfinch, from time to time, as it twittered past.
June 15, 1854. I think the birds sing some what feebler now-a-days. The note of the bobolink begins to sound somewhat rare.
June 15, 1858. That coarse grass in the Island Meadow which grows in full circles, as in the Great Meadows, is wool grass. Some is now fairly in bloom. Many plants have a similar habit of growth. The Osmunda regalis growing in very handsome hollow circles, or sometimes only crescents, or arcs of circles, is now generally of a peculiarly tender green, but some has begun to go to seed and look brown; hollow circles one or two feet to a rod in diameter. These two are more obvious when, as now, all the rest of the meadow is covered with water.
June 16, 1852. 4.30 a. m. A low fog on the meadows. The scattered cloud wisps in the sky, like a squadron thrown into disorder, at the approach of the sun. The sun now gilds an eastern cloud, giving it a broad, bright, coppery-golden edge, fiery bright, notwithstanding which the protuberances of the cloud cast dark shadows ray-like up into the day. The earth looks like a debauchee after the sultry night. Birds sing at this hour as in the spring. The white lily is budded. Paddle down from the ash tree to the swimming-place. The farther shore is crowded with polygonum and pontederia leaves. There seems to have intervened no night. The heat of the day is unabated. You perspire before sunrise. The bull-frogs boom still. No toads now. The river appears covered with an almost imperceptible blue film. The sun is not yet over the bank. What wealth in a stagnant river! There is music in every sound in the morning atmosphere. As I look up over the bay I see the reflection of the meadow, woods, and Hosmer Hill, at a distance, the tops of the trees cut off by a slight ripple. Even the pine groves on the near bank are distinctly reflected. Owing to the reflections of the distant woods and hills you seem to be paddling into a vast hollow country, doubly novel and interesting. Thus the voyageur is lured onward to fresh pastures. The melting heat begins again as soon as the sun gets up. The bull-frog lies on the very surface of the pads, showing his great yellow throat (color of the yellow breeches of the old school), and protuberant eyes, his whole back out, revealing a vast expanse of belly, his eyes like ranunculus, or yellow lily buds, winking from time to time, and showing his large, dark-bordered tympanum, imperturbable looking. His yellow throat swells up like a small moon at a distance over the pads when he croaks.
The floating pond-weed, Potamogeton natans, with the oblong oval leaf floating on the surface, now in bloom. The yellow water ranunculus still yellows the river in the middle where shallow, in beds many rods long. It is one of the capillary leaved plants.
By and by the Bidens (marigold) will stand in the river as now the ranunculus. The spring yellows are faint, cool, innocent as the saffron morning compared with the blaze of noon. The autumnal, methinks, are the fruit of the dog days, heats of manhood or age, not youth. The former are pure, transparent, crystalline, viz., the willow catkins and the early cinquefoils. This ranunculus, too, standing two or three inches above the water, is of a light yellow, especially at a distance. This I think is the rule with respect to spring flowers, though there are exceptions.
9 p. m. Down railroad. Heat lightning in the distance; a sultry night. The sound of a flute from some villager. How rare among men so fit a thing as the sound of a flute at evening!—Have not the fire-flies in the meadow relation to the stars above, étincelant. When the darkness comes we see stars beneath also.—The sonorous note of the bull-frog is heard a mile off in the river, the loudest sound this evening. Ever and anon the sound of his trombone comes over the meadows and fields.
Do not the stars, too, show their light for love, like the fire-flies? There are northern lights, shooting high up, withal.