4.20.2014

the ditcher
...Thoreau's Journal: 20-Apr-1841

Great thoughts hallow any labor. To-day I earned seventy-five cents heaving manure out of a pen, and made a good bargain of it. If the ditcher muses the while how he may live uprightly, the ditching spade and turf knife may be engraved on the coat-of-arms of his posterity.

4.19.2014

mere phenomena
...Thoreau's Journal: 19-Apr-1854

A man came to me yesterday to offer me as a naturalist a two-headed calf which his cow had brought forth, but I felt nothing but disgust at the idea and began to ask myself what enormity I had committed to have such an offer made to me. I am not interested in mere phenomena, though it were the explosion of a planet, only as it may have lain in the experience of a human being.

4.18.2014

five cents a quart
...Thoreau's Journal: 18-Apr-1859

I am looking for acorns these days, to sow on the Walden lot, but can find very few sound ones. Those which the squirrels have not got are mostly worm-eaten and quite pulverized or decayed. A few which are cracked at the small (end), having started last fall, have yet life in them, perhaps enough to plant. Even these look rather discolored when you cut them open, but Buttrick says they will do for pigeon-bait. So each man looks at things from his own point of view. I found by trial that the last or apparently sound acorns would always sink in water, while the rotten ones would float, and I have accordingly offered five cents a quart for such as will sink.

4.17.2014

familiar burst and rumble
...Thoreau's Journal: 17-Apr-1856

Was awakened in the night by a thunder and lightning shower and hail-storm—the old familiar burst and rumble, as if it had been rumbling somewhere else ever since I heard it last, and had not lost the knack. I heard a thousand hailstones strike and bounce on the roof at once. What a clattering! Yet it did not last long, and the hail took a breathing-space once or twice. I did not know at first but we should lose our windows, the blinds being away at the painters’. These sounds lull me into a deeper slumber than before. Hail-storms are milked out of the first summer-like warmth; they belong to lingering cool veins in the air, which thus burst and come down. The thunder, too, sounds like a final rending and breaking up of winter; thus precipitous is its edge. The first one is a skirmish between the cool rear-guard of winter and the warm and earnest vanguard of summer. Advancing summer strikes on the edge of winter, which does not drift fast enough away, and fire is elicited. Electricity is engendered by the early heats. I love to hear the voice of the first thunder as of the toad (though it returns irregularly like pigeons), far away in his moist meadow where he is warmed to life, and see the flash of his eye.

4.16.2014

Walden Pond Society
...Thoreau's Journal: 16-Apr-1857

Almost a month ago, at the post-office, Abel Brooks, who is pretty deaf, sidling up to me, observed in a loud voice, which all could hear, “Let me see, your society is pretty large, ain’t it?” “Oh, yes, large enough,” said I, not knowing what he meant. “There’s Stewart belongs to it, and Collier, he’s one of them, and Emerson, and my boarder” (Pulsifer), “and Channing, I believe, I think he goes there.” “You mean the walkers; don’t you?” “Ye-es, I call you the Society. All go to the woods; don’t you?” “Do you miss any of your wood?” I asked. “No, I hain’t worried any yet. I believe you’re a pretty clever set, as good as the average,” etc., etc.

Telling Sanborn of this, he said that, when he first came to town and boarded at Holbrook’s, he asked H. how many religious societies there were in town. H. said that there were three,—the Unitarian, the Orthodox, and the Walden Pond Society.

4.15.2014

presto change
...Thoreau's Journal: 15-Apr-1855

Returning, we had a fine view of a blue heron, standing erect and open to view on a meadow island, by the great swamp south of the bridge, looking as broad as a boy on the side, and then some sheldrakes sailing in the smooth water beyond. These soon sailed behind points of meadow. The heron flew away, and one male sheldrake flew past us low over the water, reconnoitering, large and brilliant black and white. When the heron takes to flight, what a change in size and appearance! It is presto change! There go two great undulating wings pinned together, but the body and neck must have been left behind somewhere.

4.14.2014

in blossom April 19, 1775
...Thoreau's Journal: 14-Apr-1852

Can we believe when beholding this landscape, with only a few buds visibly wollen on the trees and the ground covered eight inches deep with snow, that the rain was waving in the fields and the apple trees were in blossom April 19, 1775? It may confirm this story, however, what Grandmother said,—that she carried ripe cherries from Weston to her brother in Concord Jail the 17th of June the same year. It is probably true, what E. Wood, senior, says, that the grain was just beginning to wave, and the apple blossoms beginning to expand.

Abel Hunt tells me to-night that he remembers that the date of the old Hunt house used to be on the chimney, and it was 1703, or 1704, within a year or two; that Governor Winthrop sold the farm to a Hunt, and they have the deed now. There is one of the old-fashioned diamond squares set in lead still, in the back part of the house.

The snow goes off fast, for I hear it melting and the eaves dripping all night as well as all day.