Out of the Past
Thoreau
April 7






and Other Natural History Essays



         

10 am - Down river in boat to Bedford, with C.
A windy, but clear, sunny day; cold wind from northwest.
Notice a white maple with almost all the staminate flowers above or on the top, most of the stamens now withered, before the red maple has blossomed.

Another maple, all or nearly all female. The staminiferous flowers look light yellowish, the female dark crimson. These white maples' lower branches droop quite low, striking the head of the rower, and curve gracefully upward at the ends.

River has risen from last rains, and we cross the Great Meadows, scaring up many ducks at a great distance, some partly white, some apparently black, some brownish.

It is Fast-Day, and many gunners are about the shore, which makes them shy.




I never cross the meadow at this season without seeing ducks.

That is probably a marsh hawk, flying low over the water and then skirting the meadow's copsy edge, when abreast, from its apparently triangular wings, reminding me of a smaller gull. Saw more afterward.

A hawk above Ball's Hill which, though with a distinct white rump, I think was not the harrier but sharp-shinned, from its broadish, mothlike form, light and slightly spotted beneath, with head bent downward, watching for prey.

A great gull, though it is so fair and the wind northwest, fishing over the flooded meadow. He slowly circles round and hovers with flapping wings in the air over particular spots, repeatedly returning there and sailing quite low over the water, ;with long, narrow, pointed wings, trembling throughout their length.

Hawks much about water at this season.

If you make the least correct observation of nature this year, you will have occasion to repeat it with illustrations the next, and the season and life itself is prolonged.

I am surprised to see how much in warm places the high blueberry huds are started, some reddish, some greenish, earlier now than any gooseberries I have noticed.

Several painted tortoises; no doubt have been out a long time.

Walk in and about Tarbell's Swamp. Heard in two distinct places a slight, more prolonged croak, somewhat like the toad. This? Or a frog? It is a warmer sound than I have heard yet, as if dreaming outdoors were possible.
1853
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Outrider
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