5:30 A. M. - To Hill.
Smilax. Heard and saw by the sassafras shore the rose-breasted grosbeak, a handsome bird with a loud and very rich song, in character between that of a robin and a red-eye. It sang steadily like a robin. Rose breast, white beneath, black head and above, white on shoulder and wings. The flowering ferns just begin to light up the meadow with their yellowish green.
Saturday. Our most glorious experiences are a kind of regret. Our regret is so sublime that we may mistake it for triumph. It is the painful, plaintively sad surprise of our Genius remembering our past lives and contemplating what is possible. It is remarkable that men commonly never refer to, never hint at, any crowning experiences when the common laws of their being were unsettled and the divine and eternal laws prevailed in them. Their lives are not revolutionary; they never recognize any other than the local and temporal authorities. It is a regret so divine and inspiring, so genuine, based on so true and distinct a contrast, that it surpasses our proudest boasts and the fairest expectations.
But our wild apple is wild perchance like myself, who belong not to the aboriginal race here, but have strayed into the woods from the cultivated stock, - where the birds, where winged thoughts or agents, have planted or are planting me. Even these at length furnish hardy stocks for the orchard.
It is clear June, the first day of summer. The rye, which, when I last looked, was one foot high, is now three feet high and waving and tossing its heads in the wind. We ride by these bluish-green waving rye-fields in the woods, as if an Indian juggler had made them spring up in a night. Why, the sickle and cradle will soon be taken up. Though I walk every day I am never prepared for this magical growth of the rye.
As with two eyes we see and with two ears we hear, with the like advantage is man added to man. Making no complaint, offering no encouragement, one human being is made aware of the neighboring and contemporaneous existence of another. Such is the tenderness of friendship. We never recognize each other as finite and imperfect beings, but with a smile and as strangers. My intercourse with men is governed by the same laws with my intercourse with nature.
Found the Arum triphyllum and the nodding trillium, or wake-robin, in Conant’s Swap. An ash also in bloom there, and the sassafras quite striking. Also the fringed polygala by Conantum wood.
Sinclair says the hornbeam if called “swamp beech” in Vermont.
It rains gently from time to time as I walk, but I see a farmer with his boys, John Hosmer, still working in the rain, bent on finishing his planting. He is slowly getting a soaking, quietly dropping manure in the furrows. This rain is good for thought. It is especially agreeable to me as I enter the wood and hear the soothing dripping on the leaves. It domiciliates me in nature. The woods are the more like a house for the rain; the few slight noises sound more hollow in them; the birds hop nearer; the very trees seem still and pensive. The clouds are but a higher roof. The clouds and rain confine me to near objects, the surface of the earth and the trees.
Potter has a remarkable field of mulleins, sown as thickly as if done with a machine (under Bear Garden Hill). I remarked them last year. William Wheeler thinks the seed lies in the ground an indefinite period ready to come up. I thought that it might have been introduced with his grain when it was sown lately. Wheeler says that many a pasture, if you plow it up after it has been lying still ten years, will produce an abundant crop of wormwood, and its seeds must have lain in the ground. Why do not the chemists in their anlayses of soils oftener mention the seeds of plants? Would not a careful analysis of old pasture sod settle the question?
A glorious day.
P. M. - Walked round by Dennis’s and Hollowell place with Alcott.
It is suddenly very warm. A washing day, with a slight haze accompanying the strong, warm wind. I see, in the road beyond Luther Hosmer’s, in different places, two bank swallows which were undoubtedly killed by the four days’ northeast rain we have just had. Puffer says he has seen two or three dead sparrows also. The sudden heat compels us to sit in the shade at the bars above Puffer’s, whence we hear the first bobolink. How suddenly the birds arrive after the storm, - even yesterday before it was fairly over, - as if they had foreseen its end! How much life the note of the bobolink imparts to the meadow! I see a cultivated cherry in bloom, and Prichard’s Canada plum will probably bloom to-morrow. The river is higher than yesterday, about the same as when highest before this spring, and goes no higher. Thus attains its height the day after the rain.