P. M. - To Conantum.
Indian-summer-like and gossamer.
That white oak in Hubbard Grove which on the 7th was full of those glossy black acorns is still hanging full, to my surprise. Suspecting the cause, I proceed to cut them open, and find that they are all decayed or decaying. Even if not black within, they are already sour and softened. Yet Rice told me that he collected from this tree about a week ago some thousands of acorns and planted them in Sudbury. I can tell him that probably not more than half a dozen of them were alive, though they may then have looked well, as they do now externally. First, then, I was surprised at the abundance of the crop this year. Secondly, by the time I had got accustomed to that fact I was surprised at the vast proportion that were killed, apparently by frost. The squirrels are wiser than to gather these, but I see where they have gathered many black oak acorns, the ground beneath being strewn with their cups, which have each a piece bitten out in order to get out the acorn. I suspect that black and red oak acorns are not so easily injured by frost. Indeed, I find this to be the case as far as I look.
Sophia tells me that the large swamp white oak acorns in their cups, which she gathered a fortnight ago, are now all mouldy about the cups, or base of the acorn.
It is a remarkable fact, and looks like a glaring imperfection in Nature, that the labor of the oaks for the year should be lost to this extent. The softening or freezing of cranberries, the rotting of potatoes, etc., etc., seem trifling in comparison. The pigeons, jays, squirrels, and woodlands are thus impoverished. It is hard to say what great purpose is served by this seeming waste.