Out of the Past
Thoreau
April 9






and Other Natural History Essays



         

On a pitch pine on side of J. Hosmer's river hill, a pine warbler, by ventriloquism sounding farther off than it was, which was seven or eight feet, hopping and flitting from twig to twig, apparently picking the small flies at and about the base of the needles at the extremities of the twigs. Saw two afterward on the walls by roadside.

A warm and hazy but breezy day. The sound of the laborers' striking the iron rails of the railroad with their sledges, is as in the sultry days of summer -- resounds, as it were, from the hazy sky as a roof -- a more confined and, in that sense, domestic sound echoing along between the earth and the low heavens. The same strokes would produce a very different sound in the winter.

The Populus tremuliformis, just beyond, resound with the hum of honey-bees, flies, etc. These male trees are frequently at a great distance from the females. Do not the bees and flies alone carry the pollen to the latter? I did not know at first whence the humming of bees proceeded. At this comparatively still season, before the crickets begin, the hum of bees is a very noticeable sound, and the least hum or buzz that fills the void is detected.



Evening. Hear the snipe a short time at early starlight.

I hear this evening for the first time, from the partially flooded meadow across the river, I standing on this side at early starlight, a general faint, prolonged stuttering or steriorous croak, that kind of growling, like wild beasts or a coffee-mill, which you can produce in throat. It seems too dry and wooden, not sonorous or pleasing enough, for the toad. I hear occasionally the bullfrog's note, croakingly and hoarsely but faintly imitated, in the midst of it, whiich makes me think it may be they, though I have not seen any frogs so large yet, but that one by the railroad which I suspect may have been a fontinalis.

What sound do the tortoises make beside hissing?

The whole meadow resounds, probably from onenend of the river to the other, this evening, with this faint, stertorous breathing. It is the -,vaking up of the meadows. Louder than all is heard the shrill peep of the hylodes and the hovering note of the snipe, circling invisible above them all.
1853
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