Out of the Past
Thoreau
May 7






and Other Natural History Essays



         

The willows where I keep my boat resound with the hum of bees and other insects.

I hear the loud cackling of the flicker about the aspen at the rock. A gray squirrel is stealing along beneath. Hundreds of tortoises, painted and wood, are heard hurrying through the dry leaves on the bank, and seen tumbling into the water as my boat approaches; sometimes half a dozen and more are sunning on a floating rail, and one will remain with outstretched neck, its head moving slowly round in a semicircle, while the boat passes within a few feet.

As I advance up the Assabet, the lively note of the yellowbird is borne from the willows, and the creeper is seen busy amid the lichens of the maple, and the loud, jingling tche tche tche tche, etc., of the chip-bird rings along the shore occasionally.  The chewink is seen and heard scratching amid the dry leaves like a hen. The woods now begin to ring with the woodland note of the oven-bird. I hear the mew of the first catbird, and, soon after, its rich and varied melody; and there sits on a tree over the water the ungainly kingfisher, who flies off with an apparently laborious flight,
sounding his alarm.





1853
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