Out of the Past
August 18

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau


Naked Viburnum
Naked Viburnum

From the Journal of Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau and the Art of Life
Thoreau and the Art of Life
Reflections on Nature and the Mystery of Existence

Walden Then & Now
Walden Then & Now
An Alphabetical Tour of Henry Thoreau's Pond

The Portable Thoreau
The Portable Thoreau
Walden and Civil Disobedience
Walden and Civil Disobedience

Walden, or Life in the Woods Poster
Walden, or Life in the Woods

Autumnal Tints
Autumnal Tints
Audio CD
Reading by Brett Barry.

6" Display, U.S. & International Wireless


3 P.M. - To Joe Clark's and Hibiscus Bank.

I cannot conceive how a man can accomplish anything worthy of him, unless his very breath is sweet to him. He must be particularly alive. As if a man were himself and could work well only at a certain rare crisis.

The river is full of weeds. The Hypericum mutilum, small-flowered, has in some places turned wholly red on the shore.

There is indeed something royal about the month of August. It is a more ingrained and perhaps more tropical heat than that of July. Though hot, it is not so suffocating and unveiled a blaze. The vapors in the air temper it somewhat. But we have had some pretty cool weather within a week or two, and the evenings generally are cooler.

As I go over the hill behind Hunt's, the North River has a glassy stillness and smoothness, seen through the smoky haze that fills the air and has the effect of a film on the water, so that it looks stagnant. No mountains can be seen.

The locust is heard. The fruits are ripening. Ripe apples here and there scent the air. Huckleberries probably have begun to spoil.

Hazelnuts; methinks it is time to gather them if you would anticipate the squirrels. The clematis and mikania belong to this month, filling the crevices and rounding the outline of leafy banks and hedges.

Perceived to-day and some weeks since (August 3d) the strong invigorating aroma of green walnuts, astringent and bracing to the spirits, the fancy and imagination, suggesting a tree which has its root well in amid the bowels of nature. Their shells are, in fact and from association, exhilirating to smell, suggesting a strong, nutty native vigor. A fruit which I am glad that our zone produces, looking like the nutmeg of the East. I acquire some of the hardness and elasticity of the hickory when I smell them. They are among our
spices. High-scented, aromatic, as you bruise one against another in your hand, almost like nutmegs, only more bracing and northern. Fragrant stones which the trees bear.

The hibiscus flowers are seen a quarter of a mile off over the water, like large roses, now that these high colors are rather rare. Some are exceedingly delicate and pale, almost white, just rose-tinted, others a brighter pink or rose-color, and all slightly plaited (the five large petals) and turned toward the sun, now in the west, trembling in the wind. So much color looks very rich in these localities. The flowers are some four inches in diameter, as large as water-lilies, rising amid and above the button-bushes and willows, with a large light-green tree-like leaf and a stem half an inch in diameter, apparently dying down to a perennial (?) root each year. A superb flower. Where it occurs it is certainly, next to the white lily, if not equally with it, the most splendid ornament of the river.

Looking up the gleaming river, reflecting the August sun, the round-topped silvery white maples, the glossy-leaved swamp white oaks, the ethereal and buoyant Salix Purshiana - the first and last resting on the water and giving the river a full appearance - and the hibiscus flowers adorning the shores, contrasting with the green across the river, close to the water's edge, the meadows being just shorn, all make a perfect August scene..
August 18, 1852
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