P. M. - Up Assabet.
The river is raised about two feet! My boat is nearly even full, though under the willows. The water stands nearly a foot over the highest part of the large flat rock by Island. There is more current. The pads are drowned; hardly one to be seen afloat; the utmost length of their tethers does not permit them to come within a foot or ten inches of the surface. They lay smoothly on the top before, with considerable spare coil beneath; now they strain in vain toward the surface. All the Bidens Beckii is drown too, and will be delayed, if not exterminated for this year. The water is cool to the bather after so much rain.
Why have we not a decent pocket-map of the State of Massachusetts? There is the large map. Why is it not cut into half a dozen sheets and folded into a small cover for the pocket? Are there no travellers to use it? Well, to tell the truth, there are but few, and that’s the reason why. Men go by railroad, and State maps hanging in bar-rooms are small enough. The State has been admirably surveyed at a great cost, and yet Dearborn’s Pocket-map is the best one we have!
The button-bush, which is, perhaps, at the height of its bloom, resounds with bees, etc., perhaps as much as the bass has. It is remarkable that it is these late flowers about which we hear this susurrus. You notice it with your back to them seven or eight rods off.
See a blue heron several times to-day and yesterday. They must therefore breed not far off. We also scare up many times green bitterns, perhaps young, which utter their peculiar note in the Beaver Hole Meadows and this side.
For refreshment on these voyages, [we] are compelled to drink the warm and muddy-tasted river water out of a clamshell which we keep, - so that it reminds you of a clam soup, - taking many a sup, or else leaning over the side of the boat while the other leans the other way to keep your balance, and often plunging your whole face in at that, when the boat dips or the waves run.
2 P. M. - To Martial Miles’s Swamp.
Fimbristylis capillaris, probably several days in some places. See very pretty pink yarrow, roadside opposite Whiting’s orchard.
See hen-hawks perched. Are they not more at liberty now, their young being better able to shift for themselves, some of them?
Am glad to press my way through Miles’s Swamp. Thickets of choke-berry bushes higher than my head, with many of their lower leaves already red, alternating with young birches and raspberry, high blueberry andromeda (high and low), and great dense flat beds of Rubus sempervirens. Amid these, perhaps in cool openings, stands an island or two of great dark-green high blueberry bushes, with big cool blueberries, though bearing but sparingly this year.
Wednesday. I noticed there [Telos Lake] Aralia racemosa, and Aster macrophyllus in bloom, with bluish rays and quite fragrant (!), like some medicinal herb, so that I doubted at first if it were that . . .
I found on the edge of this clearing the Cirsium muticum, or swamp thistle, abundantly in bloom. I think we scared up a black partridge just beyond. . .
I am interested in an indistinct prospect, a distant view, a mere suggestion often, revealing an almost wholly new world to me. I rejoice to get, and am apt to present, a new view. But I find it impossible to present my view to most people. In effect, it would seem that they do not wish to take a new view in any case. Heat lightning flashes, which reveal a distant horizon to our twilight eyes. But my fellows simply assert that it is not broad day, which everybody knows, and fail to perceive the phenomenon at all. I am willing to pass for a fool in my often desperate, perhaps foolish, efforts to persuade them to lift the veil from off the possible and future, which they hold down with both their hands, before their eyes. The most valuable communication or news consists of hints and suggestions. When a truth comes to be known and accepted, it begins to be bad taste to repeat it. Every individual constitution is a probe employed in a new direction, and a wise man will attend to each one’s report.
At Bath Place, above, many yellow lily pads are left high and dry for a long time, in the zizania hollow, a foot or more above the dry sand, yet with very firm and healthy green leaves, almost the only ones not eaten by insects now.
This river is quite low, The yellow lilies stand up seven or eight inches above the water, and opposite to Merriam’s, the rocks show their brown backs very thick (though some are concealed), like sheep and oxen lying down and chewing the cud in a meadow. I frequently run on to one - glad when it’s the smooth side - and am tilted up this way or that, or spin round as on a central pivot. They bear the red or blue paint from many a boat, and here their moss has been rubbed off.
Went to Cambride and Boston to-day. Dr. Harris says that my great moth is the Attacus luna; may be regarded as one of several emperor moths. They are rarely seen, being very liable to be snapped up by birds. Once, as he was crossing the College Yard, he saw the wings of one coming down, which reached the ground just at his feet. What a tragedy! The wings came down as the only evidence that such a creature had soared, - wings large and splendid, which were designed to bear a precious burthen through the upper air. So most poems, even epics, are like the wings come down to earth, while the poet whose adventurous flight they evidence has been snapped up [by] the ravenous vulture of this world. If this moth ventures abroad by day, some bird will pick out the precious cargo and let the sails and rigging drift, as when the sailor meets with a floating spar and sail and reports a wreck seen in a certain latitude and longitude. For what were such tender and defenseless organizations made? The one I had, being put into a large box, beat itself - its wings, etc. - all to pieces in the night, in its efforts to get out, depositing its eggs, nevertheless, on the sides of its prison. Perchance the entomologist never saw an entire specimen, but, as he walked one day, the wings of a large species than he had ever seen came fluttering down. The wreck of an argosy in the air.
Friday. A. M. - Up river to see hypericums out.
Lycopus Virginicus, with its runners, perhaps some days, in Hosmer Flat Meadow. Whorled utricularia very abundantly out, apparently in its prime. Lysimachia ciliata some days. The Hieracium Canadense grows by the road fence in Potter’s hydrocotyle field, some seven or eight inches high, in dense tufts!
The haymakers getting in the hay from Hubbard’s meadow tell me the cock says we are going to have a long spell of dry weather or else very wet. “Well, there’s some difference between them,” I answer; “how do you know it?” “I just heard a cock crow at noon, and that’s a sure sign it will either be very dry or very wet.”
The Hypericum performatum, corymbosum, and ellipticum are not open this forenoon, but the angulosum, Canadense, mutilum, and Sarothra are partly curled up (their petals) even by 9 A. M.; perhaps because it is very warm, for day before yesterday, methinks, I saw the mutilum and Sarothra open later.
The street is now strewn with bark under the buttonwood at the brick house. Has not the hot weather taken the bark off?
The air begins to be thick and almost smoky.
P. M. - To Ledum Swamp.
The hairy huckleberry still lingers in bloom, - a few of them. The white orchis will hardly open for a week. Mulgedium, how long?
Near the ditch beyond Dennis’s lupine Hill, a vaccinium near to Pennsylvanicum, perhaps a variety of it, with ripe fruit, little or no bloom, broader-leaved than that, and not shining beneath but somewhat glaucous.