Out of the Past

May 7

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
American Writer

Flooded Meadows by by Maxime Maufra
Flooded Meadows
by Maxime Maufra

Raging floodwaters pass through a bridge trestle
Raging floodwaters pass through a bridge trestle

Yellow Shafted Flicker
Yellow Shafted Flicker


Thoreau the Land Surveyor
Thoreau the Land Surveyor
The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
The Journal of Henry David Thoreau: 1837-1861
Kindle Edition

"Wild Apples" and Other Natural History Essays
"Wild Apples"
and Other Natural History Essays

Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Henry Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod

The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau

~ 1854

I have noticed the steel-colored, velvet-like lichen on the stumps of maples especially, also on oaks and hickories. Sometimes, where a maple grove has been cut down some years, every stump will be densely clothed with them.

I observed the swallows yesterday -- barn swallows and some of those white-bellied
with grayish-brown backs -- flying close to the surface
of the water near the edge of the flooded meadow. Probably they follow their insect prey.

The causeways being flooded, I have to think before I set out on my walk how I shall get back across the river.

From the Cliffs I again admire the flood -- the now green hills rising out of it . It is dark-blue, clay, slate, and light-blue, as you stand with regard to the sun. With the sun high on one side it is a dirty or clayey slate; directly in front, covered with silvery sparkles far to the right or north, dark-blue; farther to the southwest, light-blue.

At sunset across the flooded meadow to Nawshawtuct. The water becoming calm. The sun is just disappearing as I reach the hilltop, and the horizon's edge appears with beautiful distinctness. As the twilight approaches or deepens, the mountains, those pillars which point the way to heaven, assume a deeper blue. As yet the aspect of the forest at a distance is not changed from its-winter appearance, except where the maple-tops in blossom in low lands tinge it red. And the elm-tops are in fruit in the streets; and is there not a general but slight reddish tinge from expanding buds?

Scared up ducks of some kind.

~ 1853

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.

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