a miserable name
...Thoreau's Journal: 30-Jun-1856

To Middleborough ponds in the new town of Lakeville (some three years old). What a miserable name! It should have been Assawampsett or, perchance, Sanacus, if that was the name of the Christian Indian killed on the pond.


its hypaethral character
...Thoreau's Journal: 29-Jun-1851

I thought that one peculiarity of my “Week” was its hypaethral character, to use an epithet applied to those Egyptian temples which are open to the heavens above, under the ether. I thought that it had little of the atmosphere of the house about it, but might wholly have been written, as in fact it was to a considerable extent, out-of-doors. It was only in a late period in writing it, as it happened, that I used any phrases implying that I lived in a house or lived a domestic life. I trust it does not smell [so much] of the study and library, even of the poet’s attic, as of the fields and woods; that it is a hypaethral or unroofed book, lying open under the ether and permeated by it, open to all weathers, not easy to be kept on a shelf.


the fairer sunsets
...Thoreau's Journal: 28-Jun-1852

There are meteorologists, but who keeps a record of the fairer sunsets? While men are recording the direction of the wind, they neglect to record the beauty of the sunset or the rainbow.


my Asia of serenity
...Thoreau's Journal: 27-Jun-1840

I am living this 27th of June, 1840, a dull, cloudy day and no sun shining. The clink of the smith’s hammer sounds feebly over the roofs, and the wind is sighing gently, as if dreaming of cheerfuler days. The farmer is plowing in yonder field, craftsmen are busy in the shops, the trader stand behind the counter, and all works go steadily forward. But I will have nothing to do; I will tell fortune that I will play no game with her, and she may reach me in my Asia of serenity and indolence if she can.


King Philip’s own daughter
...Thoreau's Journal: 26-Jun-1856

Heard of, and sought out, the hut of Martha Simons, the only pure-blooded Indian left about New Bedford. She lives alone on the narrowest point of the Neck, near the shore, in sight of New Bedford. Her hut stands some twenty-five rods from the road on a small tract of Indian land, now wholly hers. It was formerly exchanged by a white man for some better land, then occupied by Indians, at Westport, which he wanted. So said a Quaker minister, her neighbor. The squaw was not at home when we first called. It was a little hut not so big as mine. Vide sketch by R., with the little bay not far behind it. No garden; only some lettuce amid the thin grass in front, and a great white pile of clam and quahog shells one side. She ere long came in from the seaside, and we called again. We knocked and walked in, and she asked us to sit down. She had half an acre of the real tawny Indian face, broad with high cheek-bones, black eyes, and straight hair, originally black but now a little gray, parted in the middle. Her hands were several shades darker than her face. She had a peculiarly vacant expression, perhaps characteristic of the Indian, and answered our questions, listlessly, without being interested or implicated, mostly in monosyllables, as if hardly present there. To judge from her physiognomy, she might have been King Philip’s own daughter. Yet she could not speak a word of Indian, and knew nothing of her race. Said she had lived with the whites, gone out to service to them when seven years old. Had lived part of her life at Squaw Betty’s Neck, Assawampsett Pond. Did she know Sampson’s? She’d ought to; she’d done work enough there. She said she was sixty years old, but probably nearer seventy. She sat with her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands and that peculiar vacant stare, perhaps looking out the window between us, not repelling us in the least, but perfectly indifferent to our presence.
She was born on that spot. Her grandfather had also lived on the same spot, though no in the same house. He was the last of her race who could speak Indian. She has heard him pray in Indian, but could only understand “Jesus Christ.” Her only companion was a miserable tortoise-shell kitten which took no notice of us. She had a stone chimney, a small cooking-stove without fore legs, set up on bricks within it, and a bed covered with dirty bed-clothes. Said she hired out her field as pasture; better for her than to cultivate it. There were two young heifers init. The question she answered with most interest was, “What do you call that plant?” and I reached her the aletris from my hat. She took it, looked at it a moment, and said, “That’s husk-root. It’s good to put into bitters for a weak stomach.” The last year’s light-colored and withered leaves surround the present green star like a husk. This must be the origin of the name. Its root is described as intensely bitter. I ought to have had my hat full of plants.

A conceited old Quaker minister, her neighbor, told me with a sanctified air, “I think that the Indians were human beings; dost thee not think so?” He only convinced me of his doubt and narrowness.


a Juggernaut car
...Thoreau's Journal: 25-Jun-1840

Let me see no other conflict but with prosperity. If my path run on before me level and smooth, it is all a mirage; in reality, it is steep and arduous as a chamois pass. I will not let the years roll over me like a Juggernaut car.


all great themes
...Thoreau's Journal: 24-Jun-1852

The drifting white downy clouds are to the landsman what sails on the sea are to him that dwells by the shore,—objects of a large, diffusive interest. When the laborer lies on the grass or in the shade for rest, they do not much tax or weary his attention. They are unobtrusive. I have not heard that white clouds, like white houses, made any one’s eyes ache. They are the flitting sails in that ocean whose bound no man has visited. They are like all great themes, always at hand to be considered, or they float over us unregarded. Far away they float in the serene sky, the most inoffensive of objects, or, near and low, they smite us with their lightnings and deafen us with their thunder. We know no Ternate nor Tidore grand enough whither we can imagine them bound. There are many mare’s-tails to-day, if that is the name. What would a man learn by watching the clouds? The objects which go over our heads unobserved are vast and indefinite. Even those clouds which have the most distinct and interesting outlines are commonly below the zenith, somewhat low in the heavens, and seen on one side. They are among the most glorious objects in nature. A sky without clouds is a meadow without flowers, a sea without sails. Some days we have the mackerel fleet. But our devilishly industrious laborers rarely lie in the shade. How much better if they were to take their nooning like the Italians, relax and expand and never do any work in the middle of the day, enjoy a little Sabbath in the middle of the day.


...Thoreau's Journal: 23-Jun-1852

I am inclined to think that my hat, whose lining is gathered in midway so as to make a shelf, is about as good a botany-box as I could have and far more convenient, and there is something in the darkness and the vapors that arise from the head—at least if you take a bath—which preserves flowers through a long walk.


all his paints
...Thoreau's Journal: 22-Jun-1851

As I walk the railroad causeway, I notice that the fields and meadows have acquired various tinges as the season advances, the sun gradually using all his paints. There is the rosaceous evening red tinge of red clover,—like an evening sky gone down under the grass,—the whiteweed tinge, the white clover tinge, which reminds me how sweet it smells. The tall buttercup stars the meadow on another side, telling of the wealth of dairies. The blue-eyed grass, so beautiful near at hand, imparts a kind of slate or clay blue tinge to the meads.


warmest day yet
...Thoreau's Journal: 21-Jun-1853

The warmest day yet. For the least two days I have worn nothing about my neck. This change or putting off of clothes is, methinks, as good an evidence of the increasing warmth of the weather as meteorological instruments. I thought it was hot weather perchance, when, a month ago, I slept with a window wide open and laid aside a comfortable, but by and by I found that I had got two windows open, and to-night two windows and the door are far from enough.


leaves of a good book
...Thoreau's Journal: 20-Jun-1840

Something like the woodland sounds will be heard to echo through the leaves of a good book. Sometimes I hear the fresh emphatic note of the oven-bird, and am tempted to turn many pages; sometimes the hurried chuckling sound of the squirrel when he dives into the wall.


pass the enemy’s lines
...Thoreau's Journal: 19-Jun-1852

It requires considerable skill in crossing a country to avoid the houses and too cultivated parts,—somewhat of the engineer’s or gunner’s skill, —so as to pass a house, if you must go near it through high grass, —pass the enemy’s lines where houses are thick, —as to make a hill or wood screen you, —to shut every window with an apple tree. For that route which most avoids the houses is not only the one in which you will be least molested, but it is by far the most agreeable. Saw the handsomest large maple west of this hill that I ever saw. We crawled through the end of a swamp on our bellies, the bushes were so thick, to screen us from a house forty rods off whose windows completely commanded the open ground, leaping some broad ditches, and when we emerged into the grass ground, some apple trees near the house beautifully screened us. It is rare that you cannot avoid a grain-field or piece of English mowing by skirting a corn-field or nursery near by, but if you must go through high grass, then step lightly and in each other’s tracks.


drowned in Truro
...Thoreau's Journal: 18-Jun-1857

Small says that the Truro fishermen who were lost in the great shipwreck were on the Nantucket Shoals. Four or five vessels were lost with all aboard. They may have been endeavoring to reach Provincetown Harbor. He spoke to one of his neighbors who was drowned in Truro, and very soon after his bones were found picked clean by the beach-fleas. Thinks you could get off in a boat from the Back Side one day out of three at the right tide. He thinks that what we thought a shark may have been a big bass, since one was taken just alive soon after in that cove.

A youngish man came into Small’s with a thick outside coat, when a girl asked where he got that coat. He answered that it was taken off a man that came ashore dead, and he had worn it a year or more. The girls or young ladies expressed surprise that he should be willing to wear [it] and said, “You’d not dare to go to sea with that coat on.” But he answered that he might just as well embark in that coat, as any other.


the season of small fruits
...Thoreau's Journal: 17-Jun-1854

Another remarkably hazy day: our view is confined, the horizon near, no mountains; as you look off only four or five miles, you see a succession of dark wooded ridges and vales filled with mist. It is dry, hazy June weather. We are more of the earth, farther from heaven, these days. We live in a grosser element. We [are] getting deeper into the mists of earth. Even the birds sing with less vigor and vivacity. The season of hope and promise is past; already the season of small fruits has arrived. The Indians marked the midsummer as the season when berries were ripe. We are a little saddened, because we begin to see the interval between our hopes and their fulfillment. The prospect of the heavens is taken away, and we are presented with a few small berries.


genuine Cape Cod
...Thoreau's Journal: 16-Jun-1857

From time to time, summer and winter and far inland, I call to mind that peculiar prolonged cry of the upland plover on the bare heaths of Truro in July, heard from sea to sea, though you cannot guess how far the bird may be, as if it were a characteristic sound of the Cape.

In a genuine Cape Cod road you see simple dents in the sand, but cannot tell by what kind of foot they were made, the sand is so light and flowing.

The whole length of the Cape the beach-flea is skipping and the plover piping.


the blush of clover
...Thoreau's Journal: 15-Jun-1853

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. It is so massive, 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 ground 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.


Webster once saw the sea-serpent
...Thoreau's Journal: 14-Jun-1857

B.M. Watson tells me that he learns from pretty good authority that Webster once saw the sea-serpent. It seems it was first seen, in the bay between Manomet and Plymouth Beach, by a perfectly reliable witness (many years ago), who was accustomed to look out on the sea with his glass every morning the first thing as regularly as he ate his breakfast. One morning he saw this monster, with a head somewhat like a horse’s 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 sailboat 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 their 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.


a rare and beautiful bird
...Thoreau's Journal: 13-Jun-1853

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. I cannot find this bird described. I think it must be a grosbeak. At first I thought I saw a chewink, it sat within a rod sideways to me, and I was going to call Sophia to look at it, but then it turned its breast full toward me and I saw the blood-red breast, a large triangular painted spot occupying the greater part of the breast. It was in the cool, shaded underwood by the odd path just under the Cliff. 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, perchance, like the great purple fringed orchis, at least. How much it enhances the wildness and the richness of the forest to see it in some beautiful bird which you never detected before.


so glaringly white
...Thoreau's Journal: 12-Jun-1852

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 of 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, ripple.

The color of the earth at a distance where a wood has been cut off is a reddish brown. Nature has put no large object on the face of New England so glaringly white as a white house.


We remember how we itched
...Thoreau's Journal: 11-Jun-1851

The woodland paths are never seen to such advantage as in a moonlight night, so embowered, still opening before you almost against expectation as you walk; you are so completely in the woods, and yet your feet meet no obstacles. It is as if it were not a path, but an open, winding passage through the bushes, which your feet find.

Now I go by the spring, and when I have risen to the same level as before, find myself in the warm stratum again.

The woods are about as destitute of inhabitants at night as the streets. In both there will be some nightwalkers. There are but few wild creatures to seek their prey. The greater part of its inhabitants have retired to rest.

Ah that life I have known! How hard it is to remember what is most memorable! We remember how we itched, not how our hearts beat. I can sometimes recall to mind the quality, the immortality, of my youthful life, but in memory is the only relation to it.


through a spyglass
...Thoreau's Journal: 10-Jun-1853

By the way, I amused myself yesterday afternoon with looking from my window, through a spyglass, at the tops of the woods in the horizon. It was pleasant to bring them so near and individualize the trees, to examine in detail the tree-tops which before you had beheld only in the mass as the woods in the horizon. It was an exceedingly rich border, seen thus against, and the imperfections in a particular tree-top more than two miles off were quite apparent. I could easily have seen a hawk sailing over the top of the wood, and possibly his nest in some higher tree. Thus to contemplate, from my attic in the village, the hawks circling about their nests above some dense forest or swamp miles away, almost as if they were flies on my own premises!


sultry hum
...Thoreau's Journal: 09-Jun-1856

Without an umbrella, thinking the weather settled at last. There are some large cumuli with glowing downy cheeks floating about. Now I notice where an elm is in the shadow of a cloud,—the black elm-tops and shadows of June. It is a dark eyelash which suggests a flashing eye beneath. It suggests houses that lie under the shade, the repose and siesta of summer noons, the thunder-cloud, bathing, and all that belongs to summer. These veils are now spread here and there over the village. It suggests also the creak of crickets, a June sound now fairly begun, inducing contemplation and philosophic thoughts,—the sultry hum of insects.


robbing scarecrows
...Thoreau's Journal: 08-Jun-1857

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


real terrestrial eggs for you
...Thoreau's Journal: 07-Jun-1851

My practicalness is not to be trusted to the last. To be sure, I go upon my legs for the most part, being hard-pushed and dogged by a superficial common sense which is bound to near objects by beaten paths, I am off the handle, as the phrase is—I begin to be transcendental and show where my heart is. I am like those guinea-fowl which Charles Darwin saw at the cape de Verd Islands. He says, “They avoided us like partridges on a rainy day in September, running with their heads cocked up; and if pursed, they readily took to the wing.” Keep your distance, do not infringe on the interval between us, and I will pick up lime and lay real terrestrial eggs for you, and let you know by cackling when I have done it.


This is June
...Thoreau's Journal: 06-Jun-1857

This is June, the month of grass and leaves. The deciduous trees are investing the evergreens and revealing how dark they are. Already the aspens are trembling again, and a new summer is offered me. I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late. Each season is but an infinitesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone. It has no duration. It simply gives a tone and hue to my thought.


cohabitants with me
...Thoreau's Journal: 05-Jun-1857

I am interested in each contemporary plant in my vicinity, and have attained to a certain acquaintance with the larger ones. They are cohabitants with me of this part of the planet, and they bear familiar names. Yet how essentially wild they are! as wild, really, as those strange fossil plants whose impressions I see on my coal. Yet I can imagine that some race gathered those too with as much admiration, and knew them as intimately as I do these, that even they served for a language of the sentiments. Stigmariae stood for a human sentiment in that race’s flower language. Chickweed, or a pine tree, is but little less wild. I assume to be acquainted with these, but what ages between me and the tree whose shade I enjoy! It is as if it stood substantially in a remote geographical period.


my upper empire
...Thoreau's Journal: 04-Jun-1839

I sit here this fourth of June, looking out on men and nature from this that I call my perspective window, through which all things are seen in their true relations. This is my upper empire, bounded by four walls, viz., three of boards yellow-washed, facing the north, west, south, respectively, and the fourth of plaster, likewise yellow-washed, fronting the sunrise,—to say nothing of the purlieus and outlying provinces, unexplored as yet but by rats.


too gentlemanly in manners
...Thoreau's Journal: 03-Jun-1857

I have several friends and acquaintances who are very good companions in the house or for an afternoon walk, but whom I cannot make up my mind to make a longer excursion with; for I discover, all at once, that they are too gentlemanly in manners, dress, and all their habits. I see in my mind’s eye that they wear black coats, considerable starched linen, glossy hats and shoes, and it is out of the question. It is a great disadvantage for a traveler to be a gentleman of this kind; he is so ill-treated, only a prey to landlords. It would be too much of a circumstance to enter a strange town or house with such a companion. You could not travel incognito; you might get into the papers. You should travel as a common man. If such a one were to set out to make a walking-journey, he would betray himself at every step. Every would see that he was trying an experiment, as plainly as they see that a lame man is lame by his limping. The natives would bow to him, other gentleman would invite him in to ride, conductors would warn him that this was the second-class car, and many would take him for a clergyman; and so he would be continually pestered and balked and run upon. You would not see the natives at all. Instead of going in quietly at the back door and sitting by the kitchen fire, you would be shown into a cold parlor, there to confront a fireboard, and excite a commotion in a whole family. The women would scatter at your approach, and the husbands and sons would go right up to hunt up their black coats,—for they all have them; they are as cheap as dirt.


Start for Monadnock
...Thoreau's Journal: 02-Jun-1858

8:30 A.M.—Start for Monadnock.

Between Shirley Village and Lunenburg, I notice, in a meadow on the right hand, close to the railroad, the Kalmia glauca in bloom, as we are whirled past. The conductor says that he has it growing in his garden. Blake joins me at Fitchburg. Between Fitchburg and Troy saw an abundance of wild cherry, now apparently in prime, in full bloom, especially in burnt lands and on hillsides, a small but cheerful lively white bloom.

Arrived at Troy Station at 11.5 and shouldered our knapsacks, steering northeast to the mountain, some four miles off,—its top. It is a pleasant hilly road, leading past farmhouses, where you already begin to snuff the mountain, or at least up-country, air. By the roadside I plucked, now apparently in prime, the Ribes Cynosbati, rather downy leaved, and, near by, the same with smooth berries. I noticed, too, the Salix lucida, by the roadside there on high land; the S. rostrata, etc., were common.

Almost without interruption we had the mountain in sight before us,—its sublime gray mass—that antique, brownish-gray, Ararat color. Probably these crests of the earth are for the most part of one color in all lands, that gray color of antiquity, which nature loves; color of unpainted wood, weather-stain, time-stain; not glaring nor gaudy; the color of all roofs, the color of things that endure, and the color that wears well; color of Egyptian ruins, of mummies and all antiquity; baked in the sun, done brown. Methought I saw the same color with which Ararat and Caucasus and all earth’s brows are stained, which was mixed in antiquity and receives a new coat every century; not scarlet, like the crest of the bragging cock, but that hard, enduring gray; a terrene sky color; solidified air with a tinge of earth.

The red elder was in full bloom by the road, apparently in prime.

We left the road at a schoolhouse, and, crossing a meadow, began to ascend gently through very rocky pastures. Previously an old man, a mile back, who lived on a hilltop on the road, pointed out the upper corner of his pasture as a short way up. Said he had not been up for seven years and, looking at our packs, asked “Are you going to carry them up?” “Well,” said he, with a tone of half of pity and half regret, adding, “I shall never go up again.”


the drama of the shifting clouds
...Thoreau's Journal: 01-Jun-1852

Evening.—To the Lee place, the moon about full.

The sounds I hear by the bridge: the midsummer frog (I think it is not the toad), the nighthawk, crickets, the peetweet (it is early), the hum of dor-bugs, and the whip-poor-will. The boys are coming home from fishing, for the river is down at last. The moving clouds are the drama of the moonlight nights, and never-failing entertainment of nightly travelers. You can never foretell the fate of the moon,—whether she will prevail over or be obscured by the clouds half an hour hence. The traveler’s sympathy with the moon makes the drama of the shifting clouds interesting. The fate of the moon will disappoint all expectations. Her own light creates the shadows in the coming (advancing) clouds, and exaggerates her destiny. I do not perceive much warmth in the rocks.