June 30, 1840. I sailed from Fair Haven last evening as gently and steadily as the clouds sail through the atmosphere. The wind came blowing blithely from the southwest fields, and stepped into the folds of our sails like a winged horse, pulling with a strong and steady impulse. The sail bends gently to the breeze as swells some generous impulse of the heart, and anon flutters and flaps with a kind of human suspense. I could watch the motions of a sail forever, they are so rich and full of meaning. I watch the play of its pulse as if it were my own blood beating there. The varying temperature of different atmospheres is graduated on its scale. It is a free, buoyant creature, the bauble of the heavens and the earth. A gay pastime the air plays with it. If it swells and tugs, it is because the sun lays his windy finger on it. The breeze it plays with has been out doors so long, so thin is it, and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least serviceable. So am I blown by God's breath, so flutter and flap, and fill gently out with the breeze.
In this fresh evening, each blade and leaf looks as if it had been dipped in an icy liquid greenness. Let eyes that ache come here and look, the sight will be a sovereign eye-water, or else wait and bathe them in the dark.
We go forth into the fields, and there the wind blows freshly onward, and still on, and we must make new efforts not to be left behind. What does the dogged wind intend, that like a wilful cur it will not let me to turn aside to rest or content? Must it always reprove and provoke me, and never welcome me as an equal?
The truth shall prevail and falsehood discover itself as long as the wind blows on the hills.
A man's life should be a stately march to a sweet but unheard music, and when to his fellows it shall seem irregular and inharmonious, he will only be stepping to a livelier measure, or his nicer ear hurry him into a thousand symphonies and concordant variations. There will be no halt ever, but at most a marching on his post, or such a pause as is richer than any sound, when the melody runs into such depth and wildness as to be no longer heard, but implicitly consented to with the whole life and being. He will take a false step never, even in the most arduous times, for the music will not fail to swell into greater sweetness and volume, and itself rule the movement it inspired.
Value and effort are as much coincident as weight and a tendency to fall. In a very wide but true sense, effort is the deed itself, and it is only when these sensible stuffs intervene, that our attention is distracted from the deed to the accident. It is never the deed men praise, but some marble or canvas which are only a staging to the real work.
June 30, 1851. Haying has commenced. I see the farmers in distant fields cocking their hay now at six o'clock. The day has been so oppressively warm, that some workmen have lain by at noon, and the haymakers are mowing now at early twilight. The blue flag, Iris versicolor, enlivens the meadow, and the lark sings there at sundown afar off. It is a note which belongs to a New England summer evening. Though so late I hear the summer hum of a bee in the grass, as I am on my way to the river . . . to bathe. After hoeing in a dusty garden all this warm afternoon, so warm that the baker says he never knew the like, and expects to find his horses dead in the stable when he gets home, it is very grateful to wend one's way at evening to some pure and cool stream, and bathe there. . . .
What I suppose is the Aster miser, small-flowered aster, like a small many-headed white-weed, has now for a week been in bloom, a humble weed, but one of the earliest of the asters.
I first observed about ten days ago that the fresh shoots of the fir-balsam, Abies balsamifera, found under the tree wilted, or plucked and kept in the pocket or in the house a few days, emit the fragrance of strawberries, only it is some what more aromatic and spicy. It was to me a very remarkable fragrance to be emitted by a pine, a very rich, delicious, aromatic, spicy fragrance, which, if the fresh and living shoots emitted, they would be still more to be sought after.
June 30, 1852. Nature must be viewed humanly to be viewed at all, that is, her scenes must be associated with humane affections, such as are associated with one s native place, for instance. She is most significant to a lover. If I have no friend, what is Nature to me? She ceases to be morally significant. . . .
Is not this period more than any other distinguished for flowers when roses, swamp pinks, morning glories, arethusas, orchises, blue-flags, epilobiums, mountain laurel, and white lilies are all in blossom at once.
June 30, 1860. Try the temperature of the springs and pond. At 2.15 p. m., the atmosphere north of house is 83° above zero.
The same afternoon, the water of the boiling spring, 45°.
Our well, after pumping, 49°.
Brister's spring, 49°.
Walden Pond at bottom, in four feet of water, 71°.
River at one rod from shore, 77°.
(2 p. m., July 1, the air is 77° and the river 75°.)
I see that the temperature of the boiling spring, on the 6th of March, 1846, was also 45°, and I suspect it varies very little throughout the year.
In sand, both by day and night, you find the heat to be permanently greatest some three inches below the surface. It is so to-day, and this is about the depth at which the tortoises place their eggs, where the temperature is highest permanently and changes least between night and day.
Generally speaking, the fields are not imbrowned yet, but the freshness of the year is preserved. As I stand on the side of Fair Haven Hill, the verdure generally appears at its height, the air clear, and the water sparkling after the rain of yesterday. It is a world of glossy leaves, and grassy fields and meads. The foliage of deciduous trees is now so nearly as dark as evergreens that I am not struck by the contrast. I think that the shadows under the edge of woods are less noticed now because the woods themselves are darker; so, too, with the darkness and shadows of elms.
Seen through this clear, sparkling, breezy air, the fields, woods, and meadows are very brilliant and fair. The leaves are now hard and glossy (the oldest), yet still comparatively fresh, and I do not see a single acre of grass that has been cut. The river meadows on each side the stream, looking toward the light, have an elysian beauty. . . . They are by far the most bright and sunny looking spots, such is the color of the sedges which grow there, while the pastures and hillsides are dark green, and the grain fields glaucous green. It is remarkable that the meadows which are the lowest part should have the lightest, sunniest, yellowest look.
I hear scarcely any toads of late, except a few at evening. See in the garden, on the side of a corn-hill, the hole in which one sits by day. It is round, and about the width of his body across, extending one side underneath about the length of my little finger. It is shaped in the main like a turtle's nest, but not so broad beneath, and not quite so deep. There sits the toad in the shade and concealed completely under the ground, with its head toward the entrance, waiting for evening.
July 1, 1840. To be a man is to do a man's work. Always our resource is to endeavor. We may well say, Success to our endeavors. Effort is the prerogative of virtue.
The true laborer is recompensed by his labor not by his employer. Industry is its own wages. Let us not suffer our hands to lose one jot of their handiness by looking behind to a mere recompense, knowing that our true endeavor cannot be thwarted, nor we be cheated of our earnings unless by not earning them. Some symbol of value may shape itself to the senses in wood or marble or verse, but this is fluctuating as the laborer's hire, which may or may not be withheld. Perhaps the hugest and most effective deed may have no sensible result at all on earth, but paint itself in the heavens in new stars and constellations. Its very material lies out of Nature. When in rare moments we strive wholly with one consent, which we call a yearning, we may not hope that our work will stand in any artist's gallery.
July 1, 1852. 9.30 a. m. To Sherman's Bridge by land and water. One object, to see the white lilies in bloom. The Trifolium arvense, or rabbit's foot clover, is just beginning to show its color. . . . The mulleins generally now begin to show their pure yellow in roadside fields, and the white cymes of the elder are conspicuous on the edges of the copses. I perceive the meadow fragrance still. . . . Roses are in their prime now, growing amid huckleberry bushes, ferns, and sweet ferns, especially about some dry pond hole, some paler, some more red. It would seem they must have bloomed in vain while only wild men roamed, yet now they adorn only the pasture of these cows.—How well-behaved are cows! When they approach me reclining in the shade, from curiosity, or to receive a wisp of grass, or to share the shade, or to lick the dog held up, like a calf, though just now they ran at him to toss him, they do not obtrude; their company is acceptable, for they can endure the longest pause. They have not to be entertained. They occupy the most eligible lots in the town. I love to see some pure white about them. It suggests the more neatness.
Borrowed his boat of B———, the wheelwright, at the Corner bridge. He was quite ready to lend it, arid took pains to shave down the handle of a paddle for me, conversing the while on the subject of spiritual knocking which he asked if I had looked into. Our conversation made him the slower. An obliging man who understands that I am abroad viewing the works of Nature and not loafing, though he makes the pursuit a semi-religious one, as are all more serious ones to most men. All that is not sporting in the field, as hunting and fishing, is of a religious or else love-cracked character.
The white lilies were in all their splendor, fully open, sometimes their lower petals lying flat on the surface. The largest appeared to grow in the shallower water, where some stood five or six inches out of water, and were five inches in diameter. Two which I examined had twenty-nine petals each. . . . Perhaps there was not one open which had not an insect in it, and most had some hundreds of small gnats. We shook them out, however, without much trouble, instead of drowning them out, which makes the petals close. The freshly opened lilies were a pearly white, and though the water amid the pads was quite unrippled, the passing air gave a slight oscillating, boatlike motion to and fro to the flowers, like boats held fast by their cables. Some of the lilies had a beautiful rosaceous tinge, most conspicuous in the half-opened flower, extending through the calyx to the second row of petals, or those parts of the petals between the calyx leaves which were most exposed to the light. It seemed to be owing to the same coloring principle which is seen in the under-sides of the pads as well as in the calyx leaves. Yet the rosaceous ones are chiefly interesting to me for variety, and I am contented that lilies should be white, and leave these higher colors to the land. I wished to breathe the atmosphere of lilies, and get the full impression which they are fitted to make. The form of this flower is very perfect, the petals are so distinctly arranged at equal intervals and at all angles from nearly a vertical to horizontal about the centre. Buds that were half expanded were interesting, showing the regularly notched outline of the points of the petals above the erect green calyx leaves. Some of the bays we entered contained a quarter of an acre, through which we with difficulty forced our boat. First there is the low, smooth, green surface of the pads, some of the Kalmianas purplish, then the higher level of the pickerel weed just beginning to blossom, and rising a little higher in the rear, often extensive fields of pipes (Equisetum) making a very level appearance. Mingled with the white lilies were the large yellow ones, and the smaller, and here at least much more common, Nuphar lutea (var. Kalmiana), and the floating heart also still in blossom, and the Brasenia peltata, water target or shield, not yet in bloom, the petiole attached to its leaf, like a boy's string to his sucking leather. The rich violet purple of the pontederias was the more striking as the blossoms were still rare. Nature will soon be very lavish of this blue along the river sides. It is a rich spike of blue flowers with yellowish spots. Over all these flowers hover devil's needles in their zigzag flight. On the edge of the meadow I see blushing roses and cornels (probably the panicled). The woods ring with the veery this cloudy day, and I also hear the red-eye, oven-bird, Maryland yellowthroat, etc.—After eating our luncheon . . . we observed that every white lily in the river was shut, and they remained so all the afternoon (though it was no more sunny nor cloudy than the forenoon), except some which I had plucked before noon and cast into the river. These had not power to close their petals. It would be interesting to observe how instantaneously these lilies close at noon. I only noticed that though there were myriads fully open before I ate my luncheon at noon, after it, I could not find one open anywhere for the rest of the day. . . .
Counted twenty-one fishes' nests by the shallow shore just beyond Sherman's bridge, within less than half a rod, edge to edge, with each a bream poised in it. In some cases the fish had just cleared away the mud or frog spittle, exposing the yellow sand or pebbles (sixteen to twenty-four inches in diameter).
July 1, 1854. p. m. To Cliffs. . . . From the hill I perceive that the air is beautifully clear after the rain of yesterday, and not hot; fine grained. The landscape is fine as behind a glass, the horizon edge distinct. The distant vales toward the northwest mountains lie up open and clear and elysian, like so many Tempes. The shadows of trees are dark and distinct. On the river I see the two broad borders of pads reflecting the light, the dividing line between them and the water, their irregular edge, perfectly distinct. The clouds are separate glowing masses or blocks floating in the sky, not threatening rain. I see from this hill their great shadows pass slowly here and there over the top of the green forest.
July 1, 1859. p. m. To 2d Division Brook. . . . White water ranunculus in fresh bloom, at least a week, . . . in the shade of the bank, a clear day. Its leaves and stems waving in the brook are interesting, much cut and green.
July 2, 1840. I am not taken up, like Moses, upon a mountain, to learn the law, but lifted up in my seat here in the warm sunshine and genial light.
Neither men nor things have any true mode of invitation but to be inviting. They who are ready to go are already invited.
Can that be a task which all things abet, and to postpone which is to strive against Nature?
July 2, 1851. It is a fresh, cool summer morning. From the road here, at N. Barrett's, at 8.30 a. m., the Great Meadows have a slight bluish, misty tinge in part, elsewhere a sort of hoary sheen, like a fine downiness, inconceivably fine and silvery far away, the light reflected from the grass blades, a sea of grass hoary with light, the counterpart of the frost in spring. As yet no mower has profaned it, scarcely a footstep since the waters left; miles of waving grass adorning the surface of the earth.
Last night, a sultry night which compelled one to leave all windows open. I heard two travelers talking aloud, was roused out of my sleep by their loud, day-like and somewhat unearthly discourse, at perchance one o'clock; from the country, whiling away the night with loud discourse. I heard the words Theodore Parker and Wendell Phillips loudly spoken, and so did half a dozen of my neighbors who also were awakened. Such is fame. It affected me like Dante talking of the men of this world in the infernal regions. If the travelers had called my own name, I should equally have thought it an unearthly personage which it would have taken me some hours into daylight to realize. O traveler, have not you got any further than that? My genius hinted before I fairly awoke, "Improve your time." What is the night that a traveler's voice should sound so hollow in it? that a man, speaking aloud in it, speaking in the regions under the earth, should utter the words Theodore Parker?
A traveler! I love his title. A traveler is to be reverenced as such. His profession is the best symbol of our life. Going from ——— toward ———; it is the history of every one of us. I am interested in those that travel in the night.
It takes but little distance to make the hills and even the meadows look blue to-day. That principle which gives the air an azure color is more abundant.
To-day the milk-weed is blossoming. Some of the raspberries are ripe, the most innocent and simple of fruits, the purest and most ethereal. Cherries, too, are ripe.
Many large trees, especially elms, about a house, are a sure indication of old family distinction and worth. . . . Any evidence of care bestowed on these trees receives the traveler's respect as for a nobler husbandry than the raising of corn and potatoes.
July 2, 1852. . . . Last night, as I lay awake, I dreamed of the muddy and weedy river on which I had been paddling, and I seemed to derive some vigor from my day s experience, like the lilies which have their rroots at the bottom.
I plucked a white lily bud just ready to expand, and after keeping it in water for two days (till July 3d), as I set about opening it, touching the lapped points of its petals, they sprang open and rapidly expanded in my hand into a perfect blossom with the petals as perfectly disposed at equal intervals as on their native lake, and in this case, of course, untouched by an insect. I cut its stem short and placed it in a broad dish of water, where it sailed about under the breath of the beholder with a slight undulatory motion. The breeze of his half-suppressed admiration it was that filled its sail, a kind of popular aura that may be trusted, methinks. It was a rose-tinted one. Men will travel to the Nile to see the lotus flower, who have never seen in their glory the lotuses of their native streams.
The spikes of the pale lobelia, some blue, some white, passing insensibly from one to the other, and especially hard to distinguish in the twilight, are quite handsome now in moist ground, rising above the grass. The prunella has various tints in various lights, now blue, now lilac. As the twilight deepens into night, its color changes. It always suggests freshness and coolness from the places where it grows. I see the downy heads of the senecio gone to seed, thistle-like, but small. The gnaphaliums and this are among the earliest to present this appearance. . . .
At the bathing-place there is a hummock which was floated on to the meadow some springs ago, now densely covered with the handsome red-stemmed wild rose,—a full but irregular clump, showing no bare stems below, but a dense mass of shining leaves, and small, red stems above in their midst, and on every side countless roses; now in the twilight more than usually beautiful they appear, hardly closed, of a very deep rich color, as if the rays of the departed sun still shone through them; a more spiritual rose at this hour, beautifully blushing; and then the unspeakable beauty and promise of those fair swollen buds that spot the mass and will blossom to-morrow, and the more distant promise of the handsomely formed green ones which yet show no red; for few things are handsomer than a rose bud in any stage. These are mingled with a few pure white elder blossoms and some rosaceous or pinkish meadow-sweet. I am confident that there can be nothing so beautiful in any cultivated garden with all its varieties as this wild swamp. . . .
Nature is reported not by him who goes forth consciously as an observer, but in the fullness of life. To such a one she rushes to make her report. To the full heart she is all but a figure of speech. This is my year of observation, and I fancy that my friends are also more devoted to outward observation than ever before, as if it were an epidemic.
I cross the brook by Hubbard's little bridge. Now nothing but the cool, invigorating scent which is perceived at night in these low meadowy places where the alders and ferns grow can restore my spirits. . . .
At this season I think we do not regard the larger features of the landscape as in the spring, but are absorbed in details. Then, when the meadows were flooded, I looked far over them to the distant woods and the outlines of the hills which were more distinct. I should not have so much to say of extensive water or landscapes at this season. One is a little bewildered by the variety of objects. There must be a certain meagreness of details and nakedness, for wide views.
Nine o'clock. The full moon rising (or full last night) is revealed first by some slight clouds above the eastern horizon looking white, the first indication that she is about to rise, the traces of day not yet gone in the west. There, similar clouds seen against a lighter sky look dark and heavy. Now a lower cloud in the east reflects a more yellowish light. The moon, far over the round globe, traveling this way, sends her light forward to yonder cloud from which the news of her coming is reflected to us. The moon's aurora! it is without redness . . . like the dawn of philosophy and its noon, too. At her dawning no cocks crow. How few creatures to hail her rising, only some belated travelers that may be abroad this night. What graduated information of her coming! More and more yellow glows the low cloud with concentrating light, and now the moon's edge suddenly appears above a low bank of cloud not seen before, and she seems to come forward apace without introduction, after all. The steadiness with which she rises with undisturbed serenity, like a queen who has learned to walk before her court, is glorious, and she soon reaches the open sea of the heavens. She seems to advance (so perchance flows the blood in the veins of the beholder) by graceful, sallying essays, trailing her garment up the sky.
July 2, 1854. 4 a. m. To Hill. Hear the chip-bird and robin very lively at dawn. From the hill, as the sun rises, I see a fine river-fog wreathing the trees, elms and maples, by the shore. . . . It is clear summer now. The cocks crow hoarsely, ushering in the long-drawn, summer-day.
p. m. An abundance of red lilies in an up land dry meadow, from one to two feet high, upright-flowered, more or less dark shade of red, freckled and sometimes wrinkle-edged petals. Must have been out some days. This has come with the intense summer heat, a torrid July heat. . . . The spring now seems far behind, yet I do not remember the interval; I feel as if some broad, invisible, Lethean gulf lay between this and spring.
July 2, 1855. Young bobolinks are now fluttering over the meadow, but I have not been able to find a nest, so concealed are they in the meadow grass.
At 2 p. m. Thermometer north side of house, 93°.
Air over river at Hubbard s bathing-place, 88°.
Water six feet, from shore and one foot deep, 841⁄2°.
Water near surface in middle when up to neck, 831⁄2°.
Water at bottom in same place, pulling [thermometer] up quickly, 831⁄2°.
Yet the air on the wet body, there being a strong southwest wind, feels colder than the water.
July 2, 1857. Calla palustris, with its convolute point, like the cultivated, at the south end of Gowing's swamp. Having found this in one place, I now find it in another. Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual ray, because it does not come within the range of our intellectual ray. So in the largest sense we find only the world we look for.
July 2, 1860. Yesterday I detected the smallest grass that I know, apparently Festuca tenella? It seemed to be out of bloom. In a dry path, two to four inches high, like a moss.
July 2, 1858. a. m. Start for the White Mountains in a private carriage with E——— H———. Spent the noon close by the old Dunstable graveyard, by a small stream north of it. . . . Walked to and along the river, and bathed in it. . . . What a relief and expansion of my thoughts when I came out from that inland position by the graveyard to this broad river s shore. This vista was incredible there. Suddenly I see a broad reach of blue beneath, with its curves and headlands, liberating me from the more terrene earth. What a difference it makes whether I spend my four hours nooning between the hills by yonder roadside, or on the brink of this fair river, within a quarter of a mile of that! Here the earth is fluid to my thought, the sky is reflected from beneath, and around yonder cape is the highway to other continents. This current allies me with the world. Be careful to sit in an elevating and inspiring place. There my thoughts were confined and trivial, and I hid myself from the gaze of travelers. Here they are expanded and elevated, and I am charmed by the beautiful river reach. It is equal to a different season and country, and creates a different mood. . . . This channel conducts our thoughts as well as our bodies to classic and famous ports, and allies us to all that is fair and great. I like to remember that at the end of half a day's walk I can stand on the bank of the Merrimack. It is just wide enough to interrupt the land, and leads my eye and thought down its channel to the sea. A river is superior to a lake in its liberating influence. It has motion and indefinite length. A river touching the back of a town is like a wing, unused it may be as yet, but ready to waft it over the world. With its rapid current, it is a slightly fluttering wing. . . .
The wood-thrush sings almost wherever I go, eternally recommending the world morning and evening for us. Again it seems habitable and more than habitable to us.
July 4, 1858. . . . It is far more independent to travel on foot, you have to sacrifice so much to the horse. You cannot choose the most agreeable places in which to spend the noon, commanding the finest views, because commonly there is no water there, or you cannot get there with your horse. New Hampshire being a more hilly and newer State than Massachusetts, it is very difficult to find a suitable place to camp in near the road, affording water, a good prospect, and retirement. Several times we rode on, as much as ten miles, with a tired horse, looking in vain for such a place, and then almost invariably camped in some low and unpleasant spot. There are very few, scarcely any, lanes, or even paths and bars along the road. As we are beyond the range of the chestnut, the few bars that might be taken down are long and heavy planks or slabs intended to confine sheep, and there is no passable road behind. Besides, when you have chosen your place, one must stay behind to watch your effects, while the other looks about. I frequently envied the independence of the walker who can spend the midday hours and take his lunch in the most agreeable spot on his route. The only alternative is to spend your noon at some trivial inn, pestered by flies and tavern loungers.
Camped within a mile south of Senter Harbor, in a birch wood on the right, near the lake. Heard in the night a loon, screech-owl, and cuckoo; and our horse, tied to a slender birch close by, restlessly pawing the ground all night, and whinnying to us whenever we showed ourselves, asking for something more than meal to fill his belly with.
July 5, 1858. Go on through Senter Harbor, and ascend Red Hill in Moultonboro. Dr. Jackson says it is so called from the Uva ursi on it turning red in the fall. On the top we boil a dipper of tea for our dinner, spend some hours, having carried up water for the last half mile. Enjoyed the famous view of Winnepiseogee and its islands south-easterly, and Squam Lake on the west, but I was as much attracted at this hour by the wild mountain view on the northward. Chocorua and the Sandwich Mountains a dozen miles off seemed the boundary of cultivation on that side, as indeed they are. They are, as it were, the impassable southern barrier of the mountain region, themselves lofty and bare, and filling the whole northerly horizon, with the broad valley of Sandwich between you and them. Over their ridges, in one or two places, you detect a narrow blue edging or a peak of the loftier White Mountains, strictly so called. . . . Chocorua (which the inhabitants pronounce Shecorway, or Corway) is in some respects the wildest and most imposing of all the White Mountain peaks. . . . Descended and rode along the west and northwest side of Ossipee Mountain. Sandwich, in a large, level space surrounded by mountains, lay on our left. Here first in Moultonboro I heard the tea-lee of the white-throated sparrow. We were all the after noon riding along under Ossipee Mountain, which would not be left behind, unexpectedly large, still lowering over our path. Have new and memorable views of Chocorua as we get round it eastward. Stop at Tarn worth village for the night. We are now near the edge of a wild and unsettleable mountain region lying northwest, apparently including parts of Albany and Waterville. The landlord said that bears were plenty in it, that there was a little interval on Swift River that might be occupied, and that was all.
July 6, 1858. 5.30 a. m. Keep on through North Tamworth, and breakfast by shore of one of the Ossipee Lakes. Chocorua north-northwest. Here I see loons. . . . Chocorua is as interesting a peak as any to remember. You may be jogging along steadily for a day before you get round it and leave it behind, first seeing it on the north, then northwest, then west, and at last southwesterly, ever stern, rugged, [apparently] inaccessible, and omnipresent. . . . The scenery in Conway and onward to North Conway is surprisingly grand. You are steadily advancing into an amphitheatre of mountains. I do not know exactly how long we had seen one of the highest peaks before us in the extreme northwest, with snow on its side just below the summit, when a boy, a little beyond Conway, called it Mount Washington. If it were that, the snow must have been in Tuckerman's Ravine, which, methinks, is rather too low. Perhaps it was that we afterwards saw on Mount Adams. . . . The road, which is for the most part level, winds along the Saco through groves of maples, etc., on the intervals, with little of rugged New Hampshire under your feet, often a soft and sandy road. The scenery is remarkable for this contrast of level interval having soft and shady groves with mountain grandeur and ruggedness. Often from the midst of level maple groves which remind you only of classic lowlands, you look out through a vista of the most rugged scenery of New England. It is quite unlike New Hampshire generally, quite unexpected by me, and suggests a superior culture. . . . After leaving North Conway, the higher White Mountains were less seen, if at all. They had not appeared in pinnacles as sometimes described, but broad and massive. Only one of the higher summits, called by the boy Mount Washington, was conspicuous. . . . At Bartlett Corner we turned up the Ellis River and took our nooning on its bank, by the bridge just this side of Jackson Centre, in a rock-maple grove. . . . There are but few narrow intervals on the road, two or three only after passing Jackson, and each is improved by a settler. . . . Hear the night-warbler all along thus far. Saw the bones of a bear at the house [of one Wentworth, afterwards their attendant] and camped rather late, on right-hand side of road just beyond, a little more than four miles from Jackson. . . . Heard at evening the wood-thrush, veery, white-throated sparrow, etc. . . . Wentworth said he was much troubled by the bears. They killed his sheep and calves, and destroyed his corn when in the milk, close by his house. He has trapped and killed many of them, and brought home and reared the young.
July 7, 1858. Having engaged the services of Wentworth to carry up some of our baggage, and to keep our camp, we rode onward to the Glen House, eight miles further, sending back our horse and wagon to his house. He has lived here thirty years, and is a native. . . . Began the ascent of the mountain road at 11.30 a. m. Near the foot of the ledge and limit of trees, only their dead trunks standing, probably fir and spruce, a merry collier and his assistant, who had been making coal for the summit, and were preparing to leave the next morning, made us welcome to their shanty, where we spent the night, and entertained us with their talk. We here boiled some of our beef tongues, a very strong wind pouring in gusts down the funnel, and scattering the fire about through the cracked stove. This man . . . had imported goats on to the mountain, and milked them to supply us with milk for our coffee. . . . The wind blowing down the funnel set fire to a pile of dirty bed-quilts while I was out, and came near burning up the building. There were many barrels of spoiled beef in the cellar, and the collier said that a person coming down the mountain, some time ago, looked into the cellar and saw five wild cats (loups cerviers) there. He had heard two fighting like cats near by a few nights before.
July 8, 1858. Though a fair day, the sun did not rise clear. I started before my companions, wishing to secure a clear view from the summit, while they accompanied the collier, who, with his assistant, was conducting his goats up to the summit for the first time. He led the old one, and the rest followed.
I reached the summit about half an hour before my party, and enjoyed a good view, though it was hazy. By the time the rest arrived, a cloud invested us all, a cool, driving mist, which wet one considerably. As I looked downward over the rocky surface I saw tinges of blue sky and a light as of breaking away close to the rocky edge of the mountain, far below me, instead of above, showing that there was the edge of the cloud. It was surprising to look down thus under the cloud, at an angle of thirty or forty degrees, for the only evidences of a clear sky and breaking away. There was a ring of light encircling the summit thus close to the rocks under the thick cloud, and the evidences of a blue sky in that direction were just as strong as ordinarily when you look upward. . . .
I observed that the enduring snow-drifts were such as had lodged under the southeast cliffs, having been blown over the summit by the northwest wind. They lie up under such cliffs, and at the head of the ravines on the southeast slopes. . . .
About 8.15 a. m., being still in a dense fog, we started direct for Tuckerman's Ravine, I having taken the bearing of it before the fog, but Spaulding [one of "the landlords of the Tip-Top and Summit Houses"], also went some ten rods with us, and pointed toward the head of the Ravine, which was about S. 15° W. . . . The landlords were rather anxious about us. I looked at my compass every four or five rods, and then walked toward some rock in our course, but frequently, after taking three or four steps, though the fog was no more dense, I would lose the rock I steered for. The fog was very bewildering. You would think the rock you steered for was some large boulder twenty rods off, or perchance it looked like the brow of a distant spur, but a dozen steps would take you to it, and it would suddenly have sunk into the ground. Discovering this illusion, I said to my companions, "You see that boulder of a peculiar form, slanting over another. Well, that is in our course. How large do you think it is? and how far?" To my surprise, one answered, three rods, but the other said nine. I guessed four, and we all thought it about eight feet high. We could not see beyond it, and it looked like the highest point of a ridge before us. At the end of twenty-one paces, or three and a half rods, I stepped upon it less than two feet high, and I could not have distinguished it from the hundred similar ones around it, if I had not kept my eye on it all the while. It is unsafe for one to ramble over these mountains at any time, unless he is prepared to move with as much certainty as if he were solving a geometrical problem. A cloud may at any moment settle around him, and unless he has a compass and knows which way to go, he will be lost at once. One lost on the summit of these mountains should remember that if he will travel due east or west eight or nine miles, or commonly much less, he will strike a public road; or whatever direction he might take, the average distance would not be more than eight miles, and the extreme distance twenty. Follow some watercourse running easterly or westerly. If the weather were severe on the summit, so as to prevent searching for the summit houses or the path, I should at once take a westward course from the southern part of the range, and an eastward one from the northern part. To travel then with security, a person must know his bearings at every step, be it fair weather or foul. An ordinary rock in a fog, being in the apparent horizon, is exaggerated to perhaps ten times its size and distance. You will think you have gone further than you have, to get to it. Descending straight by compass through the cloud toward the head of Tuckerman's Ravine, we found it an easy descent over, for the most part, bare rocks, not very large, with at length moist, springy places, green with sedge, etc., between little sloping shelves of green meadow, where the hellebore grew within half a mile of the top, and the Oldenlandia cœrulea was abundantly out, very large and fresh, surpassing ours in the spring. . . . We crossed a narrow portion of the snow, but found it unexpectedly hard and dangerous to traverse. I tore up my nails in efforts to save myself from sliding down its steep surface. The snow field now formed an irregular crescent on the steep slope at the head of the ravine, some sixty rods wide horizontally, or from north to south, and twenty-five rods wide from upper to lower side. It may have been a half dozen feet thick in some places, but it diminished sensibly in the rain while we were there; said to be all gone commonly by the end of August. The surface was hard, difficult to work your heels into, a perfectly regular steep slope, steeper than an ordinary roof from top to bottom. A considerable stream, a source of the Saco, was flowing out from beneath it, where it had worn a low arch a rod or more wide. Here were the phenomena of winter and earliest spring contrasted with summer. On the edge of and beneath the overarching snow, many plants were just pushing up as in spring. The great plaited elliptical buds of the hellebore had just pushed up there, even under the edge of the snow, and also bluets. Also, close to the edge of the snow, the bare, upright twigs of a willow, with small, silvery buds, not yet expanded, of a satiny lustre, one to two feet high (apparently Salix repens), but not, as I noticed, procumbent, while a rod off, on each side, where it had been melted some time, it was going to seed, and fully leaved out. Saw also what was apparently the Salix phylicifolia. The surface of the snow was dirty, being covered with cinder-like rubbish of vegetation which had blown on to it. Yet from the camp it looked quite white and pure. For thirty or forty rods, at least, down the stream, you could see the print where the snow-field had recently melted. It was a dirty brown flattened stubble, not yet at all greened, covered with a blackish, shining dirt, the dust of the snow-crust. Looking closely I saw that it was composed, in great part, of golden-rods (if not asters), now quite flattened, with other plants. I should have said that from the edge of the ravine, having reached the lower edge of the cloud, we came out into the sun again, much to our satisfaction, and discovered a little lake called Hermit Late, about a mile off, at the bottom of the ravine, just within the limit of the trees. For this we steered, in order to camp by it, for the sake of the protection of the wood. But following down the edge of the stream, the source of Ellis River, which was quite a brook within a stone's throw of its head, we soon found it very bad walking in the scrubby fir and spruce, and therefore, when we had gone about two thirds of the way to the lake, decided to camp in the midst of the dwarf firs, clearing away a space with our hatchet. Having cleared a space with some difficulty where the trees were seven or eight feet high, Wentworth kindled a fire on the lee side, without, against my advice, removing the moss, which was especially dry on the rocks, and directly ignited and set fire to the fir leaves, spreading off with great violence and crackling over the mountain, and making us jump for our baggage. Fortunately, it did not burn a foot toward us, for we could not have run in that thicket. It spread particularly fast in the procumbent creeping spruce, scarcely a foot deep, and made a few acres of deers' horns, thus leaving our mark on the mountain side. We thought at first it would run for miles, and Wentworth said it would do no harm,—the more there was burned the better; but such was the direction of the wind that it soon reached the brow of a ridge east of us, and then burned very slowly down its east side. Yet Willey says, p. 23 [of his "Incidents of White Mountain History"], speaking of the dead trees, "bucks' horns," "Fire could not have caused the death of these trees; for fire will not spread here in consequence of the humidity of the whole region at this elevation," and he attributes their death to the cold of 1816. Yet fire did spread above the limit of trees in this ravine.—Finally, we kept on, leaving the fire raging, down to the first little lake, walking in the stream, jumping from rock to rock with it. It may have fallen a thousand feet, within a mile below the snow. We camped on a slightly rising ground between that first little lake and the stream, in a dense fir and spruce wood, thirty feet high, though it was but the limit of trees there. On our way we found the Arnica mollis (recently begun to bloom), a very fragrant yellow-rayed flower by the side of the brook, also half way up the ravine. The Alnus viridis was a prevailing shrub all along this stream, seven or eight feet high near our camp. Near the snow it was dwarfish, and still in flower, but in fruit only below; had a glossy, roundish, wrinkled, green, sticky leaf. Also a little Ranunculus abortivus by the brook, in bloom. . . . Our camp was opposite a great slide on the south, apparently a quarter of a mile wide, with the stream between us and it, and I resolved, if a great storm should occur, that we would flee to higher ground northeast. The little pond by our side was perfectly clear and cool, without weeds, and the meadow by it was dry enough to sit down in. When I looked up casually toward the crescent of snow, I would mistake it for the sky, a white glowing sky or cloud, it was so high, while the dark earth or mountain side above it passed for a dark cloud.
In the course of the afternoon, we heard, as we thought, a faint shout, and it occurred to me that B———, for whom I had left a note at the Glen House, might possibly be looking for me, but soon Wentworth decided that it must be a bear, for they make a noise like a woman in distress. He has caught many of them. Nevertheless we shouted in return, and waved a light coat on the meadow. After an hour or two had elapsed, we heard the voice again nearer, and saw two men. I went up the stream to meet B——— and B———, wet, ragged, and bloody from black flies. I had told B——— to look out for a smoke and a white tent. We had made a smoke sure enough. They were on the edge of the ravine when they shouted, and heard us answer, about a mile distant, over all the roar of the stream. They also saw our coat waved and ourselves. We slept five in the tent that night, and found it quite warm. It rained in the night, putting out the fire we had set. The wood-thrush, which Went worth called the nightingale, sang at evening and in the morning, and the same bird which I heard on Monadnock, I think, and then thought might be the Blackburnian warbler; also the veery.
July 9, 1858. Walked to Hermit Lake some forty rods northeast. It was clear and cold, with scarcely a plant in it, of perhaps half an acre. H——— tried in vain for trout here. From a low ridge east of it was a fine view of the ravine. Heard a bull-frog in the lake, and afterwards saw a large toad part way up the ravine. Our camp was about on the limit of trees, and may have been from twenty-five hundred to three thousand feet below the summit. I was here surprised to discover, looking down through the fir-tops, a large, bright, downy, fair weather cloud, covering the lower world far beneath us, and there it was the greater part of the time we were there, like a lake, while the snow and alpine summit were to be seen above us on the other side at about the same angle. The pure white crescent of snow was our sky, and the dark mountain side above, our permanent cloud.—We had the Fringilla hiemalis with its usual note about our camp. Wentworth said it was common, and bred about his house. I afterwards saw it in the valleys about the mountains. I had seen the white-throated sparrow near his house. This also, he said, commonly bred there on the ground.—The wood we were in was fir and spruce. Along the brook grew the Alnus viridis, Salix Torneyana(?), canoe birch, red cherry, mountain ash, etc. . . . I ascended the stream in the afternoon and got out of the ravine at its head, after dining on chiogenes tea, which plant I could gather without moving from my log seat. We liked it so well that B——— gathered a parcel to carry home. In most places it was scarcely practicable to get out of the ravine on either side on account of the precipices. I judged it to be one thousand or fifteen hundred feet deep. With care you could ascend by some slides. I found we might have camped in the scrub firs above the edge of the ravine, though it would have been cold and windy and comparatively unpleasant there, for we should have been most of the time in a cloud. The dense patches of dwarf fir and spruce scarcely rose above the- rocks which they concealed. At a glance, looking over, or even walking over this dense shrubbery, you would think it nowhere more than a foot or two deep, and the trees at most only an inch or two in diameter, but by searching you would find hollow places in it six or eight feet deep, where the firs were from six to ten inches in diameter. By clearing a space here with your hatchet you could find a shelter for your tent, and also fuel, and water was close by above the head of the ravine. The strong wind and the snow are said to flatten these trees down thus. I noticed that this shrubbery just above the ravine as well as in it was principally fir, while the yet more dwarfish and prostrate portion on the edge was spruce.
Returning I sprained my ankle in jumping down the brook, so that I could not sleep that night, nor walk the next day.—We had commonly clouds above and below us, though it was clear where we were. They commonly reached about down to the edge of the ravine.—The black flies which pestered us till into evening were of various sizes, the largest more than one eighth of an inch long. There were scarcely any mosquitoes, it was so cool.
A small owl came in the evening and sat within twelve feet of us, turning its head this way and that, and peering at us inquisitively.
July 10, 1858. . . . When I tasted the water under the snow arch . . . I was disappointed at its warmth, though it was in part melted snow, but half a mile lower down it tasted colder. Probably the air being cooled by the neighborhood of the snow, it seemed thus warmer by contrast. . . . The most peculiar and memorable songster was the one with a note like that I heard on Monadnock, keeping up an exceedingly brisk and lively strain. It was remarkable for its incessant twittering flow. Yet we never got sight of the bird, at least while singing, so that I could not identify it, and my lameness prevented my pursuing it. I heard it afterwards even in the Franconia Notch. It was surprising from its steady, uninterrupted flow, for, when one stopped, another appeared to take up the strain. It reminded me of a fine corkscrew stream issuing with incessant tinkle from a cork, flowing rapidly, and I said he had pulled out the spile and left it running. That was the rhythm, but with a sharper tinkle of course. It had no more variety than that, and was more remarkable for its continuance and monotony than any other bird s note I ever heard. It evidently belongs only to cool mountain sides high up amid the fir and spruce. I saw ever flitting through the fir tops restlessly a small white and dark bird, sylvia-like, which may have been it. Sometimes they appeared to be attracted by our smoke. The note was so incessant that at length you only noticed when it ceased.
The black flies were of various sizes, much larger than I noticed in Maine. They compelled me most of the time to sit in the smoke, which I preferred to wearing a veil. They lie along your forehead in a line where your hat touches it, or behind your ears, or about your throat if not protected by a beard, or get into the rims of the eyes or between the fingers, and there suck till they are crushed. But fortunately they do not last far into the evening, and a wind or a fog disperses them. I did not mind them much, but I noticed that men working on the highway made a fire to keep them off. Anything but mosquitoes by night. I find many black flies accidentally pressed in my botany and plant books. A botanist s books, if he has ever visited the primitive northern woods, will be pretty sure to contain such specimens.
H——— found, near the edge of the ravine above, Rhododendron lapponicum, some time out of bloom, in the midst of empetrum and moss, according to Durand, at 68° in Greenland, Arctostaphylos alpina going to seed, Polygonum viviparum, in prime according to Durand, at all Kane's stations, and Salix harbacea, according to Duraud, at 73° in Greenland, a pretty, trailing, roundish-leaved willow going to seed, but apparently not as early as the Salix uva ursi.
July 11, 1858. . . . One of the slender spruce trees by our camp, which we cut down, twenty-eight feet high, and only six and a half inches in diameter, though it looked young and thrifty, had about 80 rings, and the firs were at least as old. . . .
After some observation I concluded that it was true, as Wentworth had intimated, that the lower limbs of the spruce slanted downward more generally than those of the fir.
July 12, 1858. It having cleared up, we shouldered our packs and commenced our descent by a path two and a half or three miles to carriage road, not descending a great deal. . . . Trees at first, fir and spruce, then canoe birches increased, and, after two miles, yellow birch began.
I had noticed that the trees of the ravine camp, fir and spruce, did not stand firmly. Two or three of us could have pulled down one thirty feet high and six or seven inches thick. They were easily rocked, lifting their horizontal roots each time, which reminded me of what is said about the Indians, that they sometimes bend over a young tree, burying a chief under its roots and letting it spring back, for his monument and protection.—In the afternoon, we rode along, three of us, northward and northwestward on our way round the mountains, going through Gorham. We camped one and a half miles west of Gorham by the roadside on the bank of Moose River.
July 13, 1858. This morning it rained, keeping us in camp till near noon, for we did not wish to lose the view of the mountains as we rode along. . . .
I noticed, as we were on our way in the afternoon, that when finally it began to rain hard, the clouds settling down, we had our first distinct view of the mountain outline for a short time. . . . It rained steadily and soakingly the rest of the afternoon as we kept on through Randolph and Kilkenny to Jefferson Hill, so that we had no clear view of the mountains. We put up at a store just opposite the town hall on Jefferson Hill. It cleared up at sunset after two days rain, and we had a fine view, repaying us for our journey and wetting. . . . When the sun set to us, the bare summits were of a delicate rosaceous color, passing through violet into the deep, dark-blue or purple of the night, which already invested the lower parts. This night-shadow was wonderfully blue, reminding me of the blue shadows on snow. There was an after glow in which these tints and variations were repeated. It was the grandest mountain view I ever got. In the meanwhile, white clouds were gathering again about the summits, first about the highest, appearing to form there, but sometimes to send off an emissary to initiate a cloud upon a lower neighboring peak. You could tell little about the comparative distance of a cloud and a peak till you saw that the former actually impinged on the latter.
July 14, 1858. This forenoon we rode on through Whitefield to Bethlehem, clouds for the most part concealing the higher mountains. . . . Camped half a mile up the side of Lafayette.
July 15. Continued the ascent of Lafayette. It is perhaps three and a half miles from the road to the top by path along a winding ridge. . . . At about one mile or three quarters below the summit, just above the limit of trees, we came to a little pond, may be of a quarter of an acre (with a yet smaller one near by), one of the sources of the Pemigewasset. . . . The outlet of this pond was considerable, but soon lost beneath the rocks.
In the dwarf fir thickets above and below this pond were the most beautiful linnseas I ever saw. They grew quite densely, full of rose purple flowers (deeper reddish-purple than ours, which are pale), perhaps nodding over the brink of a spring. Altogether the finest mountain flowers I saw, lining the side of the narrow horse track through the fir scrub. Just below the top, reclined on a dense bed of Salix uva ursi, five feet in diameter by four or five inches deep, a good spot to sit on, mixed with a rush, amid rocks. This willow was generally showing its down.—We had fine weather on the mountain, and from the summit a good view of Mount Washington and the rest, though it was a little hazy in the horizon. It was a wild mountain and forest scene from south- southeast round eastwardly to north-northeast. On the northwest and down as far as Monadnock, the country was half cleared, the "leopard"-spotted land.
Boiled tea for our dinner by the little pond, the head of the Pemigewasset. . . . We made our fire on the moss and lichens by a rock amid the shallow fir and spruce, burning the dead fir twigs, or "deer's horns." I cut off a flourishing fir three feet high and not flattened at the top yet. This was one and a quarter inches in diameter, and had thirty-four rings. Another flourishing one fifteen inches high had twelve rings at ground. . . . Another, three feet high, fresh and vigorous, without a flat top as yet, had its woody part one and an eighth inches in diameter, the bark being one eighth inch thick, and sixty-one rings. There were no signs of decay, though it was, as usual, mossy or covered with lichens. . . .
When half way down the mountain amid the spruce, we saw two pine grossbeaks, male and female, and looked for a nest, but in vain. They were remarkably tame. . . . The male flew near inquisitively, uttering a low twitter, and perched fearlessly within four feet of us, eyeing us and pluming himself, and plucking and eating the leaves of the Amelanchier oligocarpa on which he sat for several minutes. The female, mean time, was a rod off. They were evidently breeding there, yet neither Wilson nor Nuttall speak of their breeding in the United States.
At the base of the mountain over the road heard singing, and saw at the same place where I heard him the evening before, a splendid rose-breasted grossbeak. I had before mistaken him at first for a tanager, then for a red-eye, but was not satisfied. Now with my glass I distinguished him sitting quite still high above the road at the entrance of the mountain path, in the deep woods, and singing steadily for twenty minutes. Its note was much more powerful than that of the tanager or red-eye. It had not the hoarse ness of the tanager's, and more sweetness and fullness than that of the red-eye. . . . Rode on and stopped at Morrison's (once Tilton's) Inn in West Thornton.
July 16, 1858. Continue on through Thornton and Campton. The butternut is first noticed in these towns, a common tree.
About the mountains were wilder and rarer birds, more or less arctic, like the vegetation. I did not even hear the robin in them, and when I had left them a few miles behind, it was a great change and surprise to hear the lark, the wood-pewee, the robin, and the bobolink (for the last had not done singing). On the mountains, especially at Tuckerman's Ravine, the notes of even familiar birds sounded strange to me. hardly knew the wood-thrush and veery and oven-bird at first. They sing differently there. . . . We were not troubled at all by black flies after leaving the Franconia Notch. It is only apparently in primitive woods that they work.
Saw chestnuts first and frequently in Franklin and Boscawen, about 431⁄2° north, or half a degree higher than Emerson puts it. . . . Of oaks I saw and heard only of. the red in northern New Hampshire. The witch-hazel was very abundant and large there and about the mountains. Lodged at tavern in Franklin, west side of river.
July 17, 1858. Passed by Webster's place, three miles this side of the village; some half dozen houses there, no store, nor public buildings. Very quiet; road lined with elms and maples. Railroad between house and barn. The farm apparently a level and rather sandy interval. Nothing particularly attractive about it. A plain, public grave-yard within its limits. Saw the grave of Ebenezer Webster, Esq., who died 1806, aged sixty-seven, and of Abigail, his wife, who died 1816, aged seventy-six, probably Webster's father and mother. . . . Webster was born two or more miles northwest, house now gone, . . . Reached Weare, and put up at a quiet and agreeable house, without any sign or bar-room. Many Friends in this town. Pillsbury and Rogers known here. The former lived in Henniker, the next town.
July 18, 1858. Keep on through New Boston, etc., to Hollis, . . . and at evening to Pepperell. A marked difference when we enter Massachusetts in roads, farms, houses, trees, fences, etc.; a great improvement, showing an older settled country. In New Hampshire there is a great want of shade trees; the roads bleak or sunny, from which there is no escape. What barbarians we are! The convenience of the traveler is very little consulted. He merely has the privilege of crossing somebody's farm by a particular narrow and may be unpleasant path. The individual retains all the rights as to trees, fruit, wash of the road, etc. On the other hand, these should belong to mankind inalienably. The road should be of ample width and adorned with trees expressly for the use of the traveler. There should be broad recesses in it, especially at springs and watering-places, where he can turn out, and rest or camp, if he will. I feel commonly as if I were condemned to drive through somebody's cow-yard or huckleberry pasture by a narrow lane, and if I make a fire by the roadside to boil my hasty pudding, the farmer comes running over to see if I am not burning up his stuff.
July 19, 1858. Got home at noon. . . . We might easily have built us a shed of spruce bark at the foot of Tuckerman's Ravine. I thought that I might in a few moments strip off the bark of a spruce a little bigger than myself and seven feet long, letting it curl, as it naturally would, then crawl into it and be protected from any rain. Wentworth said that he had sometimes stripped off birch bark two feet wide, and put his head through a slit in the middle, letting the ends fall down before and behind as he walked. —The slides in Tuckerman's Ravine appeared to be a series of deep gullies side by side, where sometimes it appeared as if a very large rock had slid down without turning over, plowing this deep furrow all the way, only a few rods wide. Some of the slides were streams of rocks a rod or more in diameter each. In some cases which I noticed, the ravine side had evidently been undermined by water on the lower side.
It is surprising how much more bewildering is a mountain top than a level area of the same extent. Its ridges and shelves and ravines add greatly to its apparent extent and diversity. You may be separated from your party by stepping only a rod or two out of the path. We turned off three or four rods to the pond on our way up Lafayette, knowing that H——— was behind, and so we lost him for three quarters of an hour, and did not see him again till we reached the summit. One walking a few rods more to the right or left is not seen over the ridge of the summit, and, other things being equal, this is truer the nearer you are to the apex. If you take one side of a rock, and your companion another, it is enough to separate you sometimes for the rest of the ascent.
On these mountain summits or near them, you find small and almost uninhabited ponds, apparently without fish, sources of rivers, still and cold, strange and weird as condensed clouds, of which, nevertheless, you make tea! surrounded by dryish bogs in which, perchance, you may detect traces of the bear or loup cervier.
We got the best views of the mountains from Conway, Jefferson, Bethlehem, and Campton. Conway combines the Italian (?) level and softness with Alpfhe peaks around.—Jefferson offers the completest view of the range a dozen or more miles distant, the place from which to behold the manifold varying lights of departing day on the summits.—Bethlehem also afforded a complete but generally more distant view of the range, and, with respect to the highest summits, more diagonal.
Campton afforded a fine distant view of the pyramidal Franconia Mountains, with the lumpish Profile Mountain. The last view, with its smaller intervals and partial view of the great range far in the north, was somewhat like that from Conway. . . .
It is remarkable that what you may call trees on the White Mountains (i. e., the forest), cease abruptly, with those about a dozen or more feet high, and then succeeds a distinct kind of growth, quite dwarfish and flattened, and confined almost entirely to fir and spruce, as if it marked the limit of almost perpetual snow, as if it indicated a zone where the trees were peculiarly oppressed by the snow, cold, wind, etc. The transition from these flattened firs and spruces to shrubless rocks is not nearly so abrupt as from upright or slender trees to these dwarfed thickets.
July 3, 1840. When Alexander appears, the Hercynian and Dodonean woods seem to wave a welcome to him. Do not thoughts and men's lives enrich the earth and change the aspect of things as much as a new growth of wood?
What are Godfrey and Gonsalve unless we breathe a life into them, and reenact their exploits as a prelude to our own? The past is only so heroic as we see it; it is the canvas on which our conception of heroism is painted, the dim prospectus of our future field. We are dreaming of what we are to do.
The last sunrise I witnessed seemed to outshine the splendor of all preceding ones, and I was convinced it behoved man to dawn as freshly, and with equal promise and steadiness advance into the career of life, with as lofty and serene a countenance to move onward, through his midday, to a yet fairer and more promising setting. Has the day grown old when it sets? and shall man wear out sooner than the sun? In the crimson colors of the west I discern the budding lines of dawn. To my western brother it is rising pure and bright as it did to me, but the evening exhibits in the still rear of day the beauty which through morning and noon escaped me. When we are oppressed by the heat and turmoil of the noon, let us remember that the sun which scorches us with brazen beams is gilding the hills of morning, and awaking the woodland choirs for other men.
We will have a dawn and noon and serene sunset in ourselves.
What we call the gross atmosphere of evening is the accumulated deed of the day, which absorbs the rays of beauty, and shows more richly than the naked promise of the dawn. By earnest toil in the heat of the noon, let us get ready a rich western blaze against the evening of our lives.
. . . The sky is delighted with strains [of music] which the connoisseur rejects. It seems to say "Now is this my own earth." In music are the centripetal and centrifugal forces. The universe only needed to hear a divine harmony that every star might fall into its proper place and assume a true sphericity.
July 3, 1852. . . . The Chimaphila umbellata, winter-green, must have been in blossom some time. The back side of its petals, "cream-colored, tinged with purple," which is turned toward the beholder, while the face is toward the earth, is the handsomer. It is a very pretty little chandelier of a flower, fit to adorn the forest floor. Its buds are nearly as handsome. They appear to be long in unfolding.
The pickers have quite thinned the crop of early blueberries where Stow cut off the trees winter before last. When the woods on some hill-side are cut off, the Vaccinium Pennsylvanicum springs up or grows more luxuriantly, being exposed to light and air, and by the second year its stems are weighed to the ground with clusters of blueberries covered with bloom, and much larger than they commonly grow, also with a livelier taste than usual, as if remembering some primitive mountain side given up to them anciently. Such places supply the villagers with the earliest berries for two or three years, or Until the rising wood overgrows them, and they withdraw into the bosom of Nature again. They flourish during the few years between one forest s fall and another's rise. Before you had prepared your mind or made up your mouth for the berries, thinking only of small green ones, earlier by ten days than you had expected, some child of the woods is at your door with ripe blueberries, for did not you know that Mr. Stow cut off his wood-lot winter before last. It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and thus it happens that when the owner lays bare and deforms a hill-side, and alone appears to reap any advantage from it by a crop of wood, all the villagers and the inhabitants of distant cities obtain some compensation in the crop of berries that it yields. They glean after the woodchopper, not faggots, but full baskets of blueberries. . . . Bathed beneath Fair Haven. How much food the muskrats have at hand! They may well be numerous. At this place the bottom in shallow water at a little distance from the shore is thickly covered with clams, half buried and on their ends, generally a little aslant. Sometimes there are a dozen or more side by side within a square foot, and I think that over a space twenty rods long and one wide (I know not how much farther they reach into the river), they would average three to a square foot. This would give 16,335 clams to twenty rods of shore, on one side of the river, and I suspect there are many more. No wonder that muskrats multiply, and that the shores are covered with the shells left by them. In bathing here I can hardly step without treading on them, sometimes half a dozen at once, and often I cut my feet pretty severely on their shells. They are partly covered with mud and the short weeds at the bottom, and they are of the same color themselves, but stooping down over them where the soil has subsided, I can see them now at 5.30 p. m. with their mouths (?) open, an inch long and quarter of an inch wide, with a waving fringe about it, and another smaller opening close to it without any fringe, through both of which I see distinctly into the white interior of the fish. When I touch one, he instantly closes his shell, and, if taken out quickly, spurts water like a salt-water clam. Evidently taking in their food and straining it with short waving motion of the ciliæ, there they lie both under the pads and in the sun. . . . The common carrot by the roadside, Daucus carota, is in some respects an interesting plant. Its umbel, as Bigelow says, is shaped like a bird's nest, and its large pinnatifid involucre, interlacing by its fine segments, resembles a fanciful ladies' work-basket.
July 3, 1853. The oven-bird's nest in Laurel Glen is near the edge of an open pine wood under a fallen pine twig and a heap of dry oak leaves. Within these on the ground is the nest with a dome-like top and an arched entrance of the whole height and width on one side. Lined within with dry pine needles. . . . The chestnut behind my old house site is fully out, and apparently has been partly so for several days.
Black huckleberries.—Tansy on the causeway.
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