Allium Canadense in house and probably in field. The river is now whitened with the down of the black willow, and I am surprised to see a minute plant abundantly springing from its midst and greening it, - where it has collected in denser beds against some obstacle as a branch on the surface, - like grass growing in cotton in a tumbler.
I see no tortoises laying nowadays, but I meet to-day with a wood tortoise which is eating the leaves of the early potentilla, and, soon after, another in Hosmer’s sandy bank field north of Assabet Bridge, deliberately eating sorrel. It was evidently quite an old one, its back being worn quite smooth, and its motions peculiarly sluggish. It continued to eat when I was within a few feet, holding its head high and biting down at it, each time bringing away a piece of a leaf. It made you think of an old and sick tortoise eating some salutary herb to cure itself with, and reminded me of the stories of the ancients, who, I think, made the tortoises thus cure themselves with dittany or origanum when bitten by a venomous snake. That is, it impressed me as if it must know the virtues of herbs well and could select the one best suited [to] its condition of body. When I came nearer, it at once drew in its head. Its back was smooth and yellowish, - a venerable tortoise. When I moved off, it at once withdrew into the woods.
Saw a little pickerel with a minnow in his mouth. It was a beautiful little silver-colored minnow, two inches long, with a broad stripe down the middle. The pickerel held [it] crosswise near the tail, as he had seized it, and as I looked down on him, he worked the minnow along in his mouth toward the head, and then swallowed it head foremost. Was this instinct? Fishermen should consider this in giving form to their bait. The pickerel does not swallow the bait at once, but first seizes it, then probably decides how it can best be swallowed, and no doubt he lets go again in disgust some baits of which he can make neither head nor tail.
The best poetry has never been written, for when it might have been, the poet forgot it, and when it was too late remembered it; or when it might have been, the poet remembered it, and when it was too late forgot it.
Let me see no other conflict but with prosperity. If my path run on before me level and smooth, it is all a mirage; in reality it is steep and arduous as a chamois pass. I will not let the years roll over me like a Juggernaut car.
We will warm us at each other’s fire. Friendship is not such a cold refining process as a double sieve, but a glowing furnace in which all impurities are consumed.
Men have learned to touch before they scrutinize, - to shake hands, and not to stare.
A yellowbird’s nest (vide 21st) in a fork of a willow on Hubbard’s Causeway, resting chiefly on the leading branch; of fine grass, lined with hair, bottom outside puffing out with a fine, light, flax-like fibre, perhaps the bark of some weed, by which also it is fastened to the twigs. It is surprising that so many birds find hair enough to line their nests with. If I wish for a horsehair for my compass sights I must go to the stable, but the hair-bird, with her sharp eyes, goes to the road.
I was just roused from my writing by the engine’s whistle, and, looking out, saw shooting through the town two enormous pine sticks stripped of their bark, just from the northwest and going to Portsmouth navy-Yard, they say. Before I could call Sophia, they had got round the curve and only showed their ends on their way to the Deep Cut. Not a tree grows now in Concord to compare with them. They suggest what a country we have got to back us up that way. A hundred years ago or more perchance the wind wafted a little winged seed out of its cone to some favorable spot, and this is the result. In ten minutes they were through the township, and perhaps not half a dozen Concord eyes rested on them during their transit.
Epilobium shows some pale or pink purple flowers on its spike. Trifolium arvense. It is quite cool now, after the shower in the forenoon. Now is the time for young birds. You cannot go near any thicket but the old will scold at you, and you see the kingbird and the blackbird and swallows pursuing crows and hawks, as for several weeks. I looked for the nest of the Maryland yellow-throat, but could not find it. Some animal has carried it off from the tuft of sedge, but I found one little egg which had dropped out. How many tragedies of this kind in the fields! Butter-and-eggs is a handsome yellow-spiked flower which would be better appreciated if it grew less profusely.
The farmers have commenced haying. With this the summer culminates. The most extended crop of all is ready for the harvesting. Lint still comes off the leaves and shoots. It is so hot I have to lift my hat to let the air cool my head. I notice that that low, rather rigid fern, about two feet high, on the Great Hubbard Meadow, which a month ago was yellow, but now is green and in fruit, and with a harsh-feeling fruit atop, is decidedly inclined to grow in hollow circles from one foot to six or eight feet in diameter, - often, it is true, imperfect on one side, or, if large, filled up in the middle. How to account for it? Can it have anything to do with the hummocks deposited on the meadow? Many small stems near together in circles, i. e. not a single line. Is it the Osmunda spectabilis? Now I hear the spotted (?) flies about my head, - flies that settle and make themselves felt on the hand sometimes. The morning-glory still fresh at 3 P. M. A fine, large, delicate bell with waved border, some pure white, some reddened. The buds open perfectly in a vase. I find them open when I wake at 4 A. M. Is not this one of the eras or culminating places in the flower season? Not this till the sultry mornings come. Angelica, perhaps a day or more. Elder just opening. The four-leaved asclepias, probably some days. A rather handsome flower, with the peculiar fragrance of the milkweeds. Observed three or four sweet-briar bushes with white flowers of the usual size, by the wall under Conantum Cliff, - very slightly tinted with red or rose. In the paucity and form of prickles, at least, I make them answer to the micrantha, but not else. Is it intermediate? Opened at home in a vase in the shade. They are more distinctly rose-tinted. Leaves and all together in the water, they have a strong spirituous or rummy scent. There are no flowers nor flower-buds on the bass this year, though it was so full last year.