P. M. - Paddled to Acushnet.
Passed through some schools of fishes which were rippling the surface about us in midstream. The back fins, very long and sharp, projected two or three inches above water. Walton said afterward that they were menhaden.
P. M. - To Walden.
Bathing in the cove by railroad. When I hold my head near the surface and look down, in two or three feet of water, the bottom appears concave, just as the sky does. How interesting the water-target’s slender gelatinous stem and leaves, reminding me of the plants in aquaria!
The prophane never hear music; the holy ever hear it. It is God’s voice, the divine breath audible. Where it is heard, there is a sabbath. It is omnipotent; all things obey it as they obey virtue. It is the herald of virtue. It passes by sorrow, for grief hangs its harp on the willows.
I am living this 27th of June, 1840, a dull, cloudy day and no sun shining. The clink of the smith’s hammer sounds feebly over the roofs, and the wind is sighing gently, as if dreaming of cheerfuler days. The farmer is plowing in yonder field, craftsmen are busy in the shops, the trader stands behind the counter, and all works go steadily forward. But I will have nothing to do; I will tell fortune that I play no game with her, and she may reach me in my Asia of serenity and indolence if she can.
Consider the phenomena of morn, or eve, and you will say that Nature has perfected herself by an eternity of practice, - evening stealing over the fields, the stars coming to bathe in retired water, the shadows of the trees creeping farther and farther into the meadows, and a myriad phenomena beside.
Sitting on the Conantum house sill (still left), I see two and perhaps three young striped squirrels, two-thirds grown, within fifteen or twenty feet, one or more on the wall and another on the ground. Their tails are rather imperfect, as their bodies. They are running about, yet rather feebly, nibbling the grass, etc., or sitting upright, looking very cunning. The broad white line above and below the eye make it look very long as well as large, and the black and white stripes on its sides, curved as it sits, are very conspicuous and pretty. Who striped the squirrel’s side?
When I read Cudworth I find I can tolerate all, - atomists, pneumatologists, atheists, and theists, - Plato, Aristotle, Leucippus, Democritus, and Pythagoras. It is the attitude of these men, more than any communication, which charms me. It is so rare to find a man musing. But between them and their commentators there is an endless dispute. But if it come to that, that you compare notes, then you are all wrong. As it is, each takes me up into the serene heavens, and paints earth and sky. Any sincere thought is irresistible; it lifts us to the zenith, whither the smallest bubble rises as surely as the largest.
The beauty and fragrance of the wild rose are wholly agreeable and wholesome and wear well, and I do not wonder much that men have given the preference to this family of flowers, notwithstanding their thorns. It is hardy and more complete in its parts than most flowers, - its color, buds, fragrance, leaves, the whole bush, frequently its stem in particular, and finally its red or scarlet hips. Here is the sweet-briar in blossom, which to a fragrant flower adds more fragrant leaves. I take the wild rose buds to my chamber and put them in a pitcher of water, and they will open there the next day, and a single flower will perfume a room; and then, after a day, the petals drop off, and new buds open.
As I walk through these old deserted wild orchards, half pasture, half huckleberry-field, the air is filled with fragrance from I know not what source. How much purer and sweeter it must be than the atmosphere of the streets, rendered impure by the filth about our houses! It is quite offensive often when the air is heavy at night. The roses in the front yard do not atone for the sink and pigsty and cow-yard and jakes in the rear.
8 P. M. - Up the Union Turnpike.
We have had a succession of thunder-showers to-day and at sunset a rainbow. How moral the world is made! This bow is not utilitarian. Methinks men are great in proportion as they are moral. After the rain He sets his bow in the heavens! The world is not destitute of beauty. Ask of the skeptic who inquires, Cui bono? why the rainbow was made. While men cultivate flowers below, God cultivates flowers above; he takes charge of the parterres in the heavens. Is not the rainbow a faint vision of God’s face? How glorious should be the life of man passed under this arch! What more remarkable phenomenon than a rainbow, yet how little it is remarked!
Near the river thus late, I hear the peetweet, with white-barred wings. The scent of the balm-of-Gilead leaves fills the road after the rain. There are the amber skies of evening, the colored skies of both morning and evening! Nature adorns these seasons. Unquestionable truth is sweet, though it were the announcement of our dissolution.
More thunder-showers threaten, and I still can trace those that are gone by. The fireflies in the meadows are very numerous, as if they had replenished their lights from the lightning. The far-retreated thunder-clouds low in the southeast horizon and in the north, emitting low flashes which reveal their forms, appear to lift their wings like fireflies; or it is a steady glare like the glowworm. Wherever they go, they make a meadow. I hear no toads this cool evening.
P. M. - To Walden.
Much pine pollen is washed up on the northwest side of the pond. Must it not have come from pines at a distance? Very hot day, as was yesterday, - 98˚ at 2 P. M., 99˚ at 3, and 128˚ in sun. Nighthawks numerously squeak at 5 P. M. and boom. Saw them fly low and touch the water like swallows over Walden. Find a dozen of the hydropeltis out, apparently several days. My canoe birch wine smells and tastes like mead considerably. All my birch wines are now more acid and very good indeed with sugar. Am surprised to see it effervesce, all white with white sugar only, like a soda-water.