I never found a pitcher-plant without an insect in it. The bristles about the nose of the pitcher all point inward, and insects which enter or fall in appear for this reason unable to get out again. It is some obstacle which our senses cannot appreciate. Pitcher-plants more obvious now.
As soon as berries are gone, grapes come. The chalices of the Rhexia Virginica, dear-grass or meadow-beauty, are literally little reddish chalices now, though many still have petals, - little cream pitchers. The caducous polygala in cool places is faded almost white. I see the river at the foot of Fair Haven Hill running up-stream before the strong cool wind, which here strikes it from the north. The cold wind makes me shudder after my bath, before I get dressed.
Polygonum aviculare - knot-grass, goose-grass, or door-grass - still in bloom.
2 P. M. - To Hubbard’s Meadow Grove.
The skunk-cabbage’s checkered fruit (spadix), one three inches long; all parts of the flower but the anthers left and enlarged. Bidens cernua, or nodding burr-marigold, like a small sunflower (with rays) in Heywood Brook, i. e. beggar-tick. Bidens connata (?), without rays, in Hubbard’s Meadow. Blue-eyed grass still. Drooping neottia very common. I see some yellow butterflies and others occasionally and singly only. The smilax berries are mostly turned dark. I started a great bittern from the weeds at the swimming-place.
It is very hot and dry weather. We have had no rain for a week, and yet the pitcher-plants have water in them. Are they ever quite dry? Are they not replenished by the dews always, and, being shaded by the grass, saved from evaporation? What wells for the birds!
2 A. M. - The moon not quite full. To Conantum via road.
There is a low vapor in the meadows beyond the depot, dense and white, though scarcely higher than a man’s head, concealing the stems of the trees. I see that the oaks, which are so dark and distinctly outlined, are illumined by the moon on the opposite side. This as I go up the back road. A few thin, ineffectual clouds in the sky. I come out thus into the moonlit night, where men are not, as if into a scenery anciently deserted by men. The life of men is like a dream. It is three thousand years since night has had possession. Go forth and hear the crickets chirp at midnight. Hear if their dynasty is not an ancient one and well founded. I feel the antiquity of the night. She surely repossesses herself of her realms, as if her dynasty were uninterrupted, or she had underlain the day. No sounds but the steady creaking of crickets and the occasional crowing of cocks.
I go by the farmer’s houses and barns, standing there in the dim light under the trees, as if they lay at an immense distance or under a veil. The farmer and his oxen now all asleep. Not even a watch-dog awake. The human slumbers. There is less of man in the world.
The fog in the lowlands on the Corner road is never still. It now advances and envelops me as I stand to write these words, then clears away, with ever noiseless step. It covers the meadows like a web. I hear the clock strike three.
Do not the song of birds and the fireflies go with the grass? While the grass is fresh, the earth is in its vigor. The greenness of the grass is the best symptom or evidence of the earth’s youth or health. Perhaps it will be found that when the grass ceases to be fresh and green, or after June, the birds have ceased to sing, and that the fireflies, too, no longer in myriads sparkle in the meadows. Perhaps a history of the year would be a history of the grass, or of a leaf, regarding the grass-blades as leaves, for it is equally true that the leaves soon lose their freshness and soundness, and become the prey of insects and of drought. Plants commonly soon cease to grow for the year, unless they may have a fall growth, which is a kind of second spring. In the feelings of the man, too, the year is already past, and he looks forward to the coming winter. His occasional rejuvenescence and faith in the current time is like the aftermath, a scanty crop. The enterprise which he has not already undertaken cannot be undertaken this year. The period of youth is past.
We are receiving our portion of the infinite. The art of life! Was there ever anything memorable written upon it? By what disciplines to secure the most life, with what care to watch our thoughts. To observe what transpires, not in the street, but in the mind and heart of me! I do not remember any page which will tell me how to spend this afternoon. I do not so much wish to know how to economize time as how to spend it, by what means to grow rich, that the day may not have been in vain.
2 P. M. - To Hapgood’s in Acton direct, returning via Strawberry Hill and Smith’s Road.
The ripening grapes begin to fill the air with their fragrance. The vervain will hardly do for a clock, for I perceive that some later and smaller specimens have not much more than begun to blossom, while most have done. Saw a tall pear tree by the roadside beyond Harris’s in front of Hapgood’s. Saw the lambkill (Kalmia augustifolia) in blossom - a few fresh blossoms at the ends of the fresh twigs - on Strawberry Hill, beautiful bright flowers. Apparently a new spring with it, while seed vessels, apparently of this year, hung dry below.
From Strawberry Hill the first, but a very slight, glimpse of Nagog Pond by standing up on the wall. That is enough to relate of a hill, methinks, that its elevation gives you the first sight of some distant lake. The horizon is remarkably blue with mist this afternoon. Looking from this hill over Acton, successive valleys filled with blue mist appear, and divided by darker lines of wooded hills. The shadows of the elms are deepened, as if the whole atmosphere were permeated by bloods of ether. Annursnack never looked so well as now seen from this hill. The ether gives a velvet softness to the whole landscape. The hills float in it. A blue veil is drawn over the earth.
It is wise to write on many subjects, to try many themes, that so you may find the right and inspiring one. Be greedy of occasions to express your thought. Improve the opportunity to draw analogies. There are innumerable avenues to a perception of the truth. Improve the suggestion of each object however humble, however slight and transient the provocation. What else is there to be improved? Who knows what opportunities he may neglect? It is not in vain that the mind turns aside this way or that: follow its leading; apply it whither it inclines to go. Probe the universe in a myriad points. Be avaricious of these impulses. You must try a thousand themes before you find the right one, as nature makes a thousand acorns to get one oak. He is a wise man and experienced who has taken many views; to whom stones and plants and animals and a myriad objects have each suggested something, contributed something.
With what sober joy I stand to let the water drip from me and feel my fresh vigor, who have been bathing in the same tub which the muskrat uses! Such a medicated bath as only nature furnishes. A fish leaps, and the dimple he makes is observed now. How ample and generous was nature! My inheritance is not narrow. Here is no other this evening. Those resorts which I most love and frequent, numerous and vast as they are, are as it were given up to me, as much as if I were an autocrat or owner of the world, and by my edicts excluded men from my territories. Perchance there is some advantage here not enjoyed in older countries. There are said to be two thousand inhabitants in Concord, and yet I find such ample space and verge, even miles of walking every day in which I do not meet nor see a human being, and often not very recent traces of them. So much of man as there is in your mind, there will be in your eye. Methinks that for a great part of the time, as much as it is possible, I walk as one possessing the advantages of human culture, fresh from society of men, but turned loose into the woods, the only man in nature, walking and meditating to a great extent as if man and his customs and institutions were not. The catbird, or the jay, is sure of the whole of your ear now. Each noise is like a stain on pure glass. The rivers now, these great blue subterranean heavens, reflecting the supernal skies and red-tinted clouds.