7.28.2014

all needed potash
...Thoreau's Journal: 28-July-1860

A man shows me in the street a single bunch of potato-balls (i.e. on one stem) twenty in number, several of them quite an inch in diameter and the whole cluster nearly five inches in diameter as it hangs, to some extent emulating a cluster of grapes. The very sight of them supplies my constitution with all needed potash.

7.27.2014

while our star is in the ascendant
...Thoreau's Journal: 27-Jul-1852

We are most disturbed by the sun’s dazzle when it is lowest. Now the upper edge of that low blue bank is gilt where the sun has disappeared, leaving a glory in the horizon through which a few cloudy peaks send raylike shadows. Now a slight rosy blush is spreading north and south over the horizon sky and tingeing a few small scattered clouds in the east. A blue tinge southward makes the very edge of the earth there a mountain. That low bank of cloud in the west is now exactly the color of the mountain, a dark blue. We should think sacredly, with devotion. That is one thing, at least, we may do magnanimously. May not every man have some private affair which he can conduct greatly, unhurriedly? The river is silvery, as it were plated and polished smooth, with the slightest possible tinge of gold, to-night. How beautiful the meanders of a river, thus revealed! How beautiful hills and vales, the whole surface of the earth a succession of these great cups, falling away from dry or rocky edges to gelid green meadows and water in the midst, where night already is setting in! The thrush, now the sun is apparently set, fails not to sing. have I heard the veery lately? All glow on the clouds is gone, except from one higher, small, rosy pink or flesh-colored isle. The sun is now probably set. There are no clouds on high to reflect a golden light into the river.

How cool and assuaging the thrush’s note after the fever of the day! I doubt if they have anything so richly wild in Europe. So long a civilization must have banished it. It will only be heard in America, perchance, while our star is in the ascendant. I should very much be surprised if I were to hear in the strain of the nightingale such unexplored wildness and fertility, reaching to sundown, inciting to emigration. Such a bird must itself have emigrated long ago. Why, then, was I born in America? I might ask.

I would like to ask the assessors what is the value of that blue mountain range in the northwest horizon to Concord, and see if they would laugh or seriously set about calculating it. How poor, comparatively, should we be without it! It would be descending to the scale of the merchant to say it is worth its weight in gold. The privilege of beholding it, as an ornament, a suggestion, a provocation, a heaven on earth. If I were one of the fathers of the town I would not sell this right which we now enjoy for all the merely material wealth and prosperity conceivable. If need were, we would rather all go down together

7.26.2014

wings large and splendid
...Thoreau's Journal: 26-July-1852

Went to Cambridge and Boston to-day. Dr. Harris says that my great moth is the Attacus luna; may be regarded as one of several emperor moths. They are rarely seen, being very liable to be snapped up by birds. Once, as he was crossing the College Yard, he saw the wings of one coming down, which reached the ground just at his feet. What a tragedy! The wings came down as the only evidence that such a creature had soared,—wings large and splendid, which were designed to bear a precious burthen through the upper air. So most poems, even epics, are like the wings come down to earth, while the poet whose adventurous flight they evidence has been snapped up [by] the ravenous vultures of this world.

7.25.2014

a single spring should appear
...Thoreau's Journal: 25-July-1851

As I walked on the beach (Nantasket), panting with thirst, a man pointed to a white spot on the side of a distant hill (Strawberry Hill he called it) which rose from the gravelly beach, and said that there was a pure and cold and unfailing spring; and I could not help but admiring that in this town of Hull, of which I had heard, but now for the first time saw, a single spring should appear to me and should be of so much value. I found Hull indeed, but there was also a spring on that parched, unsheltered shore; the spring, though I did not visit it, made the deepest impression on my mind. Hull, the place of the spring and of the well. This is what the traveler would remember. All that he remembered of Rome was a spring on the Capitoline Hill!

7.24.2014

a walk as strange as Dante’s
...Thoreau's Journal: 24-July-1857

It (1) suggested to me how unexplored still are the realms of nature, that what we know and have seen is always an insignificant portion. We may any day take a walk as strange as Dante’s imaginary one to L’Inferno or Paradiso

1. [Phosphorescent wood. See Maine Woods…]

7.23.2014

too good to be true
...Thoreau's Journal: 23-July-1860

I see a snake crossing at Hubbard’s Bridge as swiftly as a muskrat could, which, indeed, I at first took it for,—faster than a muskrat would.

I find the ripest blueberries (Vaccinium vacillans) not on the very top nor on the lower slope, but on the brow, or what is called the “pitch” of the hill (Conantum) toward the light. The ripest are of course the largest, and this year very large and hard and bead-like.

Slender early spiranthes noticed.

I read of the Amazon that its current, indeed, is strong, but the wind always blows up the stream. This sounds too good to be true.

7.22.2014

the summer’s vapor bath
...Thoreau's Journal: 22-July-1851

The season of morning fog has arrived. I think it is connected with dog-days. Perhaps it is owing to the greater contrast between the night and day, the nights being nearly as cold, while the days are warmer? Before I rise from my couch, I see the ambrosial fog stretched over the river, draping the trees. It is the summer’s vapor bath. What purity in the color? It is almost musical; it is positively fragrant. How faery-like it has visited our fields. I am struck by its firm outlines, as distinct as a pillow’s edge, about the height of my house. A great crescent over the course of the river from southwest to northeast. Already 5:30 A.M., some parts of the river are bare. It goes off in a body down the river, before this air, and does not rise into the heavens. It retreats, and I do not see how it is dissipated. This slight, thin vapor which is left to curl over the surface of the still, dark water, still as glass, seems not [to] be the same thing,—of a different quality. I hear the cockerels crow through it, and the rich crow of young roosters, that sound indicative of the bravest, rudest health, hoarse without cold, hoarse with rude health. That crow is all-nature-compelling.; famine and pestilence flee before it. These are our fairest days, which are born in fog.