JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 1

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Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

October 2005

 

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"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts."
-HDT

***********************************************************

By Way of Introduction:

Welcome to the 7th year year of Journal Drippings. For those new to this monthly Thoreau e-mail digest: I began this project in 1997, and it's my attempt to explore and share the sunset (or is it sunrise?) mind of Henry David Thoreau, as reflected in his 14-volume, 7000+ page journal. I am now just beyond the half-way point. Here you you can read a selection of some his finest nature descriptions and philosophical saunters. The more familiar aphorisms and otherwise great lines that later found their way into his better known essays or in Walden have been omitted. This is the Thoreau you may not have met. Enjoy!....and pass this on to others who might be interested.

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I seek acquaintance with nature to know all her moods and manners. Primitive nature is the most interesting to me. I take infinitive pains to know all the phenomena of the spring, for instance, thinking that I have here the the entire poem, and, then, to my chagrin I hear that is but an imperfect copy that I possess and have read, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, and mutilated it in many places....I wish to know the entire heaven and an entire earth. All the great trees, and beasts, fishes and fowls are gone.
(March 23, 1856)

********

I see that a shopkeeper advertises among his perfumes for handkerchiefs "meadow flowers" and "new-mown hay." (Same)

********

I am reassured and reminded that I am the heir of of eternal inheritances which are inalienable, when I feel the warmth reflected from the sunny bank....The eternity which I detect in Nature I predicate of myself also- (Same}

********

I am sometimes affected by the consideration that a man may spend the whole of his life after boyhood accomplishing a particular design; as if he were put to a special and petty use, without taking time to look around him and appreciate the phenomena of his existence....
(March 26)

********

Love is a thirst that is never slaked. Under the coarsest rind, the sweetest meat. If you would read a friend aright, you must be able to read through something thicker and opaquer than horn. If you can read a friend, all languages will be easy to you. Enemies publish themselves. They declare war. The friend never declares his love. (Same)

********

It will take you half a lifetime to find the earliest flower (April 2)

********

The pattering of the rain is a soothing, slumberous sound, which tempts me to lie late. (April 3)

********

How encouraging to perceive again that faint tinge of green spreading amid the russet on earth's cheeks! I revive with Nature, her victory is mine. (Same)

********

Hosmer is overhauling a vast heap of manure in the rear of his barn, turning the ice within it to the light; yet he asks despairingly what life is for and says he does not expect to stay here long. But I have just come from reading Calumella who describes the same kind of spring work..., and I suggest to be brave and hopeful with nature. Human life may be transitory and full of trouble, but the perennial mind, whose survey extends from that spring to this..... (Same)

********

The song sparrow I see now has a very brown breast. What a shy, skulking fellow! (April 6)

********

[Describes the river in flood]: " See that that broad, smooth vernal lake. Not a breath disturbs it. The sun and warmth and smooth water and birds make it a carnival of Nature's. I am surprised when I perceive men going about their ordinary occupations. I presume that before 10 0'clock at least all the villagers will have come down to the bank and looked over this bright and placid flood. the child and man, the housekeeper and invalid even as the village beholds itself in it. How much would be subtracted from the day if water were taken away....It is certainly important than that there be some priests...some worshippers of Nature."
(April 9)

********

A robin peeping at a distance is mistaken for a hyla [toad]. A gun fired at a muskrat on the other side of the island toward the village sounds like planks being thrown down from a scaffold borne over the water. I hear the sap dropping into my pail. (Same)

********

I hear the hyla [toad] peep faintly several times...He is the first of his race to awaken to the new year and pierce the solitudes with his voice. He shall wear the medal for this year. You hear him but you will never find him. He is somewhere down amid the withered sedge and alder bushes there by the water's edge, but where? From that quarter its shrill blast sounded, but he is silent, and a kingdom will not buy it again. (Same)

********

Fast-Day Some fields are dried sufficient for the games of ball with which this season is commonly ushered in. I associate this day; when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over behind the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow...(April 10)

********

Saw a Kingfisher on a tree over the water. Does not its arrival mark some new movement in its finny prey? He is the bright buoy that betrays it! (April 11)

********

There suddenly flits before me and alights on a small apple tree....a splendid purple finch. Its glowing redness is revealed when it lifts its wings, as when the ashes (xx) is blown from a coal of fire. (April 12)

********

[Referring to a road that still has a great deal of snow}: "This is the heel of the winter." (April 13)

*************************************************************

"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why was he
so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc? Why was he so much interested in
the river and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's


**********

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

**********

"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" HDT

***********************************************************

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :

http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

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JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 2

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

November 2005

 

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts."
-HDT

***********************************************************

Ist salmon and shad at Haverill today. (April 15, 1856)

**********

The robins sing with a will now. What a burst of melody! It gurgles out of all conduits now; they are choked with it. There is such a tide and rush of song as when a river is straightened between two rocky walls. It seems as if the morning throat was not large enough to emit all this sound (April 16)

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We have waste places pools & brooks, etc where to cast tine, iron, slag, crockery, etc. No doubt the Romans and Ninevites had such places. To what a perfect system this world is reduced! A place for everything, and everything in its place! (Same)

**********

Was awakened in the night by thunder and lightning, shower, and hailstorm the old familiar burst and rumble, as if it had been rumbling somewhere else since I heard it last, and had not lost the knack. (April 17)

**********

Hail storms are milked out of the first summer warmth. (Same)

**********

I love to hear the voice of the first thunder, as of the toad...far away in his moist meadow where he is warmed to life, and see the flash in his eye. (Same)

**********

Even in the midst of this rain, I am struck by the variegated surface of the water, different portions reflecting the light differently, giving what is called a watered experience...Broad streams of light water stretch away between streams of dark, as if they were different kinds of water unwilling to mingle, though all are equally dimpled by the rain, and you detect no difference in their conditions. As if Nature loved variety for its own sake. It is a true April shower or rain. I think the first. It rains so easy has a genius for it and infinite capacity for [it]. Many showers will not exhaust the moisture in April. (Same)

**********

When I get home and look out the windows, I am surprised by how it has greened up the grass. It springs up erect like a green flame in the ditches on each side of the road. Grass is born. (Same)

**********

The farmer neglects his team to watch my sail. (April 18)

**********

Walden is open entirely today for the first time...The average date has been April 4. (Same)

**********

[On pools formed by heavy April showers]: April wells, call them, vases cleaned as if enamelled. (April 24)

**********

The voice of the toad, herald of warmer weather. (April 25)

**********

Aspen bark peels; how long?

**********

Worm piles about the door-step this morning; how long?

**********

Again, as so many times, I [am] reminded of the advantage to the poet, and philosopher, and naturalist, and whomever, of pursuing from time to time some other business than his chosen one seeing with the side of the eye. The poet will so get visions which no deliberate abandonment can secure. The philosopher is so forced to recognize principles which long study might not detect. And the naturalist even will stumble upon some new and unexpected flower and animal. (April 28)

**********

[While sailing on choppy waves]: "The waves seem to leap and roll like porpoises...It is pleasant, exhilarating to feel the boat tossed a little by them from time to time. Perhaps a wine drinker would say it is like the effect of wine. It is flattering to a sense of power to make the wayward wind our horse and sit with our hand on the tiller. Sailing is much like flying, and from the birth of our race men have been charmed by it." (April 29)

**********

Cutting off the limbs of a young pine in the way of my compass, I find it strips freely. How long this? (April 30)

**********

[Bumps into Luke Dodge by the river and Luke tells him he is 83]: "He still looks pretty strong and has a voice like a nutmeg-grater. (May 4)

**********

[Sees turtles going down the brook from the mill pond]: "Where to? How long?"

*************************************************************

"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why was he
so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc? Why was he so much interested in
the river and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's


**********

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

**********

"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" HDT

***********************************************************

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :

http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

******************************************************************
******************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 3

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

December 2005

 

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." -HDT

***********************************************************

Either nature may be changed or man. Some animals, as frogs of musquash [muskrats] are fitted to live in the marsh. Only a portion of the earth is habitable by man. Is the earth improving or deteriorating in this respect? Does it require to be improved by the hands of man or is man to live more naturally and so more safely? (May 11, 1856)

***********

Mrs Ripley told me that Hill said the toads rang till they died if their call was not answered or attended to. (May 12)

***********

[Talks about seeds and whether they can lay in ground a long time before germinating. He then offers a theory of seed dispersion]: "I suspect I can throw a little light on the fact that when a dense pine wood is cuts down, oaks, etc may take its place...Scarcely enough allowance has been made for the agency of squirrels and birds in dispersing seeds." (Same)

***********

[Describes seeing an iridescent, colorful film on the water, probably from a decomposed sucker fish]: "How much color or expression can reside in so thin a substance,,,This beauty like the rainbow and sunset marks the spot where his body has mingled with the elements. A somewhat similar beauty reappears on the clam's shell. Even a dead sucker suggests a beauty and so a glory of its own. I leaned over the edge of a boat and admired it as much as I ever did a rainbow or sunset sky." (May 17)

***********

As I sail up the reach of the Assabet...a traveller riding along the highway is watching my sail while he hums a tune. How inspiring and elysian it is to hear when the traveller or laborer from a call to his horse or the murmur of an ordinary conversation rises into song! It paints the landscape suddenly as no agriculture, no flowery crop that can be be raised. It is at once another land, the abode of poetry...As he looked at my sail, I listened to his singing. Perchance they were equally poetic and we repaid each other...The singer is in the attitude of one inviting the muse aspiring. (May 18)

***********

Was awakened and put into sounder sleep than ever early this morning by the distant crashing of thunder...(May 20)

***********

I hear it in the mid-afternoon muttering, crashing in the muggy air of mid-Heaven, a little south of the village as I go through it, like the tumbling down of piles of boards...Nature has found her hoarse summer voice again like the lowing of a cow let out to pasture. It is Nature's rutting season....The air has resumed its voice, and lightning, like a yellow spring flower, illumines the dark banks of the clouds. All the pregnant earth is bursting into life... (Same)

***********

I now see distinctly the chestnut-sided warbler....Sings each/each/each/wichy/wichy/tchea or itch/itch/ itch/witty /witty/tchea. Yet this note represented on the 18th as tche tche/tchut /tchuter/ we (Same)

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Two marsh hawks, male and female, flew about me a long time, screaming....This induced me to climb 4 pines, but I tore my clothes, got pitched all over, and found only a squirrel...and yet they have, no doubt, a nest thereabouts. (Same)

***********

Such broad health and strength underlies Nature. (May 22)

***********

As I have said before, it seems to me the squirrels, etc, disperse the acorns, etc, amid the pines. (June 3)

***********

May I be as vivacious as a willow. (June 6)

***********
Now I notice when an elm is in the shadow of a cloud the black elm tops of June. It is a dark eyelash which suggests a flashing eye beneath. It suggests houses that lie under the shade, the repose and siesta of summer noons, the thundercloud, bathing, and all that belongs to summer. It suggests also the creak of crickets, a June sound now fairly begun, inducing contemplation and philosophical thoughts the sultry hum of insects. (June 9)

***********

The tortoises improve every rock, and willow slanting over the water, and every floating board and rail. (July 3)

*************************************************************

"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why was he
so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc? Why was he so much interested in
the river and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's


**********

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

**********

"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" HDT

***********************************************************

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :

http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

******************************************************************
******************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 4

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

January 2006

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." -HDT

***********************************************************

Since July 30th, inclusive, we have had perfect dog-days without interruption. The earth has suddenly [become] invested with a thick musty mist. The sky has become a mere fungus. The sun has not been visible, except for a moment once or twice a day...Moisture reigns. You cannot dry a napkin by the window, nor press flowers without them mildewing. Unfortunate are those who have not got their hay...Squashes and melons are said to grow a foot a night. But weeds grow as fast. Corn unrolls at night...The drooping spirits of mosquitos revive... (August 1, 1856)

**************

A green bittern comes noiselessly flapping, with stealthy and inquisitive looking to this side of the river and that, 30 feet above the water. This antediluvian bird. creature of the night, is a fit emblem of a dead stream like this Musketicook. This especially is the bird of the river. There is a sympathy between its sluggish flight and the sluggish flow of the stream its slowly lapsing flight, even like the rills of the Musketicook and my own pulse sometimes. (August 2)

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Do the duty that lies nearest to thee. (August 8)

**************

To the eyes of men there is something tragic in death. We hear of the death of any member of the human family with something more than than regret, not without a slight shudder and feeling of commiseration. The churchyard is a grave place. (August 8)

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VOLUME X BEGINS
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I hear the steady (not intermittent) shrilling of apparently the alder cricket, clear, loud, and autumnal, a season sound. Hear it, but see it not. It reminds me of past autumns and the lapse of time, suggesting a pleasing, thoughtful melancholy, like the sound of a flail. (August 18)

**************

June. July. August. The tortoise eggs are hatching beneath the surface in the sandy fields. You tell of active labors, of works of art and wars this past summer; meanwhile tortoise eggs underlie this turmoil. What events have transpired on the lit and airy surface three inches above them! [Senator Charles] Sumner knocked down. Kansas living in an age of suspense. Think what a summer to them! How many worthy men have died and had their funeral services preached since I saw the mother turtle bury her eggs here. They contained an undeveloped liquid then, they are now turtles. June, July, August the livelong summer what are they with their heats and fevers but sufficient to hatch a turtle in. Be not in haste; mind your private affairs. Consider the turtle. A whole summer June, July, August is not too good nor too much to hatch a turtle in. Perhaps you have worried yourself, despaired of the world, meditated the end of life and all things seem rushing to destruction, but nature has steadily and serenely advanced with a turtle's pace...French empires rise or fall but the turtle is only developed so fast... So is the turtle developed, fitted to endure, for he outlives twenty French dynasties. One turtle knows several Napoleans. They have seen no berries, had no cares, yet the great world existed for them, as much for you. (August 26)

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In fact I expected little of this walk, yet it did pass through the sides of my mind that somehow, on this very account (my small expectation), it would turn out well, as also the advantage of having some purpose, however small, to be accomplished, of letting your deliberate wisdom and foresight in the house to some extent direct and control your steps. If you would really take a position outside the street and daily lives of men, you must have business which is not your neighbor's business, which they cannot understand. For only absorbing employment prevails, succeeds....[in occupying]...the only desirable and free Kansas against all border ruffians....You will spend this afternoon in setting up your neighbor's stove and be paid for it. I will spend it gathering a few berries of the Vaccinium Oxycoccoss which nature produces here, before it is too late, and be paid for it also after a fashion. I have always reaped unexpected and incalculable advantages from carrying out at last, however tardily, any little enterprise which my genius suggested to me long ago as a thing to be done some step to be taken, however slight, out of the usual course. (August 30)

**************

How many schools I have thought of which I might go to but did not go to! expecting foolishly some greater advantage or schooling would come to me! It is these comparatively cheap and private expeditions that substantiate our existence and better our lives, as, where a vine touches the earth in its undulating course, it puts forth roots and thickens its stock. Our employment generally is tinkering, mending the old worn-out teapot of society. Our stock in trade is solder. Better for me, says my genius, to go cranberrying this afternoon......in Gowing's swamp, you get but a pocketful, and lean its peculiar favor, the flavor of Gowing's swamp, and of my life in New England, then to consul to Liverpool and get I don't know how many thousands for it, with no such flavor. Many of our days should be spend, not in vain expectations and lying on our oars, but in carrying out deliberatively and faithfully the hundred little purposes which every man's genius must have suggested to him. Let not your life be without an object, thought it be only to ascertain the flavor of a cranberry, for it will not only be the flavor of an insignificant berry that you will have tasted, but the flavor of your life to that extent, and it will be such a sauce as no wealth can buy. (Same)

**************

Indeed it is by obeying the suggestions of a higher light within you that you escape from yourself and, in the transit, as it were, see with the unworn sides of your eye, travel totally new paths. What is the pretended life that does not take up a claim, that does not occupy ground, that cannot build a causeway to its to its objects, that sits on a bank looking over a bog, singing its desires? (Same)

**************

It is vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such. It is the bog in our brain and and bowels, the primitive vigor of nature that dream. I shall never find in the wilds of Labrador any greater wildness than in some recess in Concord. i.e., that I import into it. (Same)

**************

I go to bed and dream of cranberry pickers far in the cold north. With windows partly closed, with continent concentrated thoughts I dream. I get my new experiences still not at the opera listening to the Swedish Nightingale [a foreign singing sensation at that time], but at Beck Stowe's swamp listening to the native wood thrush. (Same)

*************************************************************

"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why was he
so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc? Why was he so much interested in
the river and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's


**********

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

**********

"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" HDT

***********************************************************

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :

http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

******************************************************************
******************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 5
Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

February 2006

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." -HDT

***********************************************************

I believe almost in the personality of such planetary matter, feel something akin to a reverence for it. ....How happens it that we reverence the stones that fall from another planet and not the stones which belong to this...Are not the stones in Hodge's wall, as good as the aerolite at Mecca? Is not our our broad backdoor stone as good as any cornerstone in heaven? (August 30, 1856)

**********

It would imply the regeneration of mankind, if they were to become elevated enough to truly worship stocks and stones...If I could I would worship the parings of my fingernails I would fain improve every opportunity to wonder and worship, as a sunflower welcomes the light. (Same)

**********

I think we may detect that some sort of preparation and faint expectation preceded every discovery we have made. We blunder into no discovery but it will appear that we have prayed or disciplined ourselves for it...It commonly chances that I make my most interesting botanical discovery when I [am] in a thrilled and expectant mood......My expectation ripens to discovery. I am prepared for strange things. (Same)

**********

I feel this difference between great poetry and small: that in the one, the sense outruns and overflows the word; in the other the words, the sense. (Same)

**********

Monday. Sophia says, bringing company into my sanctum, by way of apology, that I regard dust on my furniture like the bloom on fruits, not to be swept off. (Sept 15)

**********

I do not perceive the poetic and dramatic capabilities of an anecdote, a story which is told to me, its significance till some time afterward. One of the qualities of a pregnant world is that it does not surprise us, and we only perceive afterward how interesting it is, and then must know its particulars. (Oct 1)

**********

It is well to find your employment and amusement in simple and homely things. They wear best and yield most. I think I would rather watch the motions of these cows in their pasture, which I now see headed one way and slowly advancing, and watch them and project their course carefully on a chart, and report their behavior faithfully than wander to Europe or Asia and watch other motions there; for it is only ourselves that we report in either case... (October 5)

**********

[Describes a fungus which looks like it has a scrotum and phallus]: "It was as offensive to the eye as to the scent, the cap rapidly melting and defiling what it touched with a fetid, olivaceous, semi-liquid matter. In an hour or two the plant scented the whole house...so that I cannot be endured. I was afraid to sleep in my chambers where it had lain until the room had been well-ventilated. It smelled like a dad rat in the in the ceiling. Pray, what was Nature thinking of when she made this? She almost puts herself at the level of those who draw in privies." (October 16)

**********

Men commonly exaggerate the theme. Some themes they think are significant and other insignificant...I see that my neighbors look with compassion on me, that they think it is a mean and unfortunate destiny which makes me walk in these fields and woods so much and sail on this river alone. But so long as I find here the only real elysium, I cannot hesitate in my choice. My work is writing, and I do not hesitate though I know that subject is too trivial to me, tried by ordinary standards; for, ye fools, the theme is nothing, life is everything. (Oct 18)

**********

A tall, raw-boned omnivorous heron of a Yankee came along... (Nov 30)

**********

I see the old pale-faced farmer again for the five-thousandth time Cyrus Hubbard, a man of a certain New England probity and worth, immortal and natural like a natural product, like the sweetness of a nut, like the toughness of a hickory. He, too, is a redeemer for me. How superior actually to the faith he professes. He is not an office-seeker. What an institution, what a revelation is man. We are wont foolishly to think that the creed which a man professes more significant than the fact he is. It matters not how hard the conditions seemed, how mean the world, for a man is a prevalent force and a new law himself....It is a great encouragement that an honest man makes this world his abode. The farmer spoke to me, I can swear, clean, cold, moderate as the snow....Moderate, natural, true, as if he were made of earth, of snow. (Dec 1)

**********

Will wonder become extinct in me? Shall I become as insensible as a fungus? (Same)

**********

Rigid as iron, clean as the atmosphere, hardy as virtue, innocent and sweet as a maiden is the shrub oak...I felt a positive yearning toward one bush this afternoon. There was a match found for me. I fell in love with a shrub oak.

*************************************************************

"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why was he
so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc? Why was he so much interested in
the river and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's


**********

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

**********

"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" HDT

***********************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 6

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

March 2006

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." -HDT

***********************************************************

Then walked up the railroad...saw Melvin's lank bluish-white-black spotted hound, and Melvin with his gun nearby, going home at eve. He follows hunting, praise be to him, as regularly in our tame fields as the farmers follow farming. Persistent genius! How I respect him, and thank him for him [sic]. I trust the lord will provide us with another Melvin when he is gone. How good of him to follow his own bent and not continue at the Sabbath-school all his days! What a wealth he thus becomes in the neighborhood!...I thank my stars for Melvin...I think of him with gratitude when I am going to sleep, grateful that he existsÐthat Melvin who is such a trial to his mother. Yet he is as agreeable to me as a tinge of russet on the hillside....Awkward, gawky, loose-hung, dragging his legs after him. He is my contemporary, and my neighbor. He is one tribe, I am another, and we are not at war. (December 2, 1856)

*************

How quickly men come out to the highways with their sleds and improve the first snow! The farmer has come out to play with his sled as early as any of the boys....The drama every day on the streets! This is the theater I go to. (Same)

*************

As for the sensuality in Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," I do not so much wish it had not been written, as that men and women were so pure that they could read it without harm. (Same)

*************

On new cowhide boots: "The shoemaker praised them because they were made a year ago. I feel like an armed man now. The man who has bought his shoes feels like him who has got in his winter wood." (Dec. 3)

*************

For many years my appetite was so strong that I fedÐI browsedÐ on the pine forest edge seen against this winter horizon...How cheap my diet still. I ranged about like a grey moose looking at the spiring tops of trees and fed my imagination on them...Where was the sap, the fruit, the value of the forest for me, but in that line where it was relieved against the sky? That was my woodcut; that was my lot in the woods. The silvery needles of the pine straining the light. (Same).

*************

Smooth white reaches of ice, as long as the river, are threatening to bridge over its dark-blue artery any night. They remind me of a trap that is set for it, which the frost will spring. Each day at present, the wriggling river nibbles at the edges of the trap which have advanced in the night. It is a close contest between day and night, heat and cold. (Dec. 4)

*************

I for one am not bound to flatter men. That is not exactly the value of me. (Same)

*************

On surprising himself on learning the names of plants without much systematic study: "I wanted to know my neighbors. if possible Ðto get a little nearer to them." (Same)

*************

My themes shall mot be far-fetched. I will tell of homey, everyday phenomena and adventures. Friends! Society! It seems to me I have an abundance of it, there is so much I rejoice and sympathize with, and men, too, that I never speak to, but only know and think of. What you call bareness and poverty is to me simplicity. God could not be unkind to me if he should try. I love the winter, with its imprisonment and its cold, for it compels the prisoner to try new fields and resources. I love to have the river closed up for a season and a pause put to my boating...I shall launch it again in the spring with so much more pleasure. I love best to have each thing in its season only, and enjoy doing without it at other times. (Same)

*************

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. I find it invariably true, the poorer I am, the richer I am. What you consider my disadvantage, I consider my advantage. While you are pleased to get knowledge and culture in many ways, I am delighted to think I am getting rid of them. I have never got over my surprise that I have have been born into the most estimable place in all the world, in the very nick of time too. (Same)

*************

How handsome every one of those leaves that are blown about the snow-crust or lie neglected beneath, soon to turn to mould! Not merely a matted mass of fibers like a sheet of paper, but a perfect organism and system in itself, so that no mortal has ever yet discerned or explored its beauty. (Same)

*************

Our eyes go searching along the stems for what is most vivacious and characteristic of the concentrated summer gone into winter quarters. For we are hunters pursuing the summer on snow-shoes and skates, all winter long. There is really but one season in our hearts. (Dec 6)

*************

The winters come now as fast as snowflakes....It was summer and now again it is winter. Nature loves this rhyme so well she never gets tired of repeating it. So sweet and wholesome is the winter, so simple and moderate, so satisfactory and perfect that her children will never weary of it. What a poem! an epic in blank verse enriched with a million tinkling rhymes. (Dec. 7)

*************

He recalls the severity of Pilgrim winters: "Nature has not changed one iota." (Same)

*************************************************************

"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why was he
so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc? Why was he so much interested in
the river and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's


**********

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

**********

"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" ÐHDT

***********************************************************
***********************************************************

Bill Schechter's retirement party will be on Sat., June 17, at the Donaldson's in Lincoln (behind the library), 7 Old Lexington Road. RSVP if possible so I can get a sense of numbers). All welcome.

**********

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :

http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

******************************************************************
******************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 7

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

April 2006

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." -HDT

***********************************************************

The worker who would accomplish much these short days must shear a dusky slice of both ends of night. (December 9, 1856)

************

[On the hooting of owls]: "The hooting an owl! That is a sound which my red predecessors heard here more than a thousand years ago. It rings far and wide, occupying the spaces rightfully,Ð grand, primal, aboriginal sound. There is no whisper in it of the Bulky, the Flints, the Homer who recently squatted here, nor of the First Parish, nor of the Concord Fight, nor of the last town meeting. (Dec. 15)

************

Mrs Moody is very properly calls eating nuts "a mouse-like employment." It is quite too absorbing; you can't read at the same time, as when you are eating an apple. (Same)

************

A farmer once asked me what shrub oaks were made for, not knowing any use they served. But I can tell him that they do me good. They are my parish ministers regularly settled. They never did any man any harm that I know. (Dec. 17)

************

[On shrub oak leaves]: " But these leaves still have a kind of life in them. They are exceedingly beautiful in their withered state. If they hang on, it is like the perseverance of the saints. Their colors are as wholesome, their forms as perfect, as ever. Now that the crowd and bustle of summer is passed, I have leisure to admire them. Their figures never weary my eye. Look at the few broad scallops in their sides. When was that pattern first cut? With what a free stroke the the curve was struck!...How poetically, how like saints or innocent and beneficent beings, they give up the ghost! How spiritual!....Rarely touched by worm or insect, they are as far as ever...When was it ordained that this leaf should turn brown in the fall?" (Same)

************

Lectures in basement (vestry) of orthodox church and I trust helped to undermine it (Dec. 18)

************

Walden froze completely over last night. This was very sudden, for on the evening of the 15th, there was not a particle of ice in it. (Same)

************

[On hearing an owl]: "[It] is more than the voice of the owl, the voice of these woods as well....For all Nature is a musical instrument on which her creatures play, celebrating their joy or grief unconsciously often." (Dec 19)

************

Think what a pitiful kind of life ours is, eating our kindred animals... (Dec. 21)

************

Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in field and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold, hungry, and weary.
(Dec. 25)

************

The fishermen sit by their damp fire of pinewood...There they sit, ever and anon, scanning the reels to see if any have fallen and, if not, catching many more fish, still getting what they came for, though they might not be aware of it, ie., a wilder life than the town affords. (Dec. 28)

************

I thrive best on solitude. If I had a companion only one day in a week, unless it were one or two I could name, I find that the value of the week to me has been seriously affected. It dissipates my days, and often it takes me another week to get over it. (Same)

************

We must go out and re-ally ourselves with Nature every day....I am sensible that I am imbibing health when I open my mouth to the wind. Staying in the house breeds a sort of insanity always. (Same)

************

Had the experience of losing a pin and then hunting for it a long time in vain.
(Dec. 30)

************

It does look sometimes as if the world is on its last legs. How many there are whose principal employment it is nowadays to eat their meals and go to the post office. (January 4, 1857)

************

[After 5 days of surveying]: "I especially feel the necessity of putting myself in communication with nature again...The things I have been doing have but a fleeting and accidental importance, however much men are immersed in them, and yield very little valuable fruit. I would fain have been wading through the woods and fields and conversing in the sane snow. Having waded in the shallowest stream of time, I would not bath my temples in eternity...I thus from time-to-time break off my connection with the eternal truths and go with the shallow stream of human affairs, grinding at the mill of the Philistines; but when my task is done, with never failing confidence I devote myself to the infinite again. It would be sweet to deal with men more, I can imagine, but where dwell they? Not in the fields which I traverse. (Same)

************

The most brutish and inanimate objects that are made suggest an everlasting and thorough satisfaction. They are the homes of content...Do you think the Concord River would have continued to flow these millions of years by Clamshell Hill...if it had not been happy...if it had miserable in its channel, tired of existence, and cursing its maker and the hour it sprang? (January 6)

************

I should not be ashamed to have a shrub oak for my coat-of-arms. (Jan.7)

***********************************************************
***********************************************************

To the L-S folk on this list: Bill Schechter's retirement party will be on Sat., June 17, at the Donaldson's in Lincoln (behind the library), 7 Old Lexington Road, 1 to 5, open mic at 2:30pm. RSVP if possible so I can get a sense of numbers). All welcome.

**********

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm
or to the Thoreau Institute's web site:
http://www.walden.org/education/index_Schechter_Journal_Drippings.htm

******************************************************************
******************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VII, No. 8

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

May 2006

***********************************************************

"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." -HDT

***********************************************************

[Speaking of the value of being in the woods and going for a walk:] "But alone in distant woods or fields...even in a bleak and to most cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself. I once feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by church going and prayer. I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. (January 7, 1857)

*************

I have told many that I walk everyday about half the daylight but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America out of my head and the sane part of every day. If there are missionaries for heathen, why not send them to me? I wish to know something; I wish to be made better. I wish to forget a considerable part of every day, all mean, narrow, trivial men...and therefore I come out to these solitudes, where the problem of existence is simplified. (Same)

*************

I am not satisfied with ordinary windows. I must have a true skylight. My true skylight is on the outside of the village. (Same)

*************

I have never chanced to meet with any man so cheering and elevating and encouraging, so infinitely suggestive, as the stillness and solitude of the Well Meadow Field.
(Jan 11)

*************

I hear one thrumming a guitar below stairs. it reminds me of moments that i have lived. What a comment on our life is the least strain of music! It lifts me above all dust and mire of the universe. I soar or hover with clean skirts over the field of my life. It is ever life within life, in concentric spheres...What an elixir is the sound! ... It releases me; it bursts my bonds. [We] never at any time realize the full grandeur of our fate. We forever and ever habitually underrate our fate. Talk of infidels!....I am, of course, hopeless, ignorant, and unbelieving until some divinity stirs within me. Ninety-nine one hundreds of our lives we are mere hedgers and ditchers, but from time to time we meet with reminders of our destiny. We hear the kindred vibrations music!...We attain to a wisdom that passeth understanding. The stable continents undulate. The hard and fixed become fluid...When I hear music I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest time and the latest. ( Jan 13)

*************

What is there in music that it should so stir our deeps? We are all ordinarily in a state of desperation; such is our life; oft-times it drives us to suicide. To how many, perhaps to most, life is barely tolerable, and if it were not for the fear of death, of dying, what a multitude would immediately commit suicide! But let us hear a strain of music, we are at once advertised of a life which no man has told us of , which no preacher preaches....The field of my life becomes a boundless plain, glorious to tread, with no death of disappointment at the end of it. All meanness and trivialness disappear...In light of this strain, there is no Thou and I. We are actually lifted above ourselves. (Jan 15)

*************

[With no transition, his next subject begins:] "The tracks of the mice near the head of Well Meadow were particularly interesting....Yet I should like to see by broad daylight a company of these little revellers hopping over the snow. There is still life in America that is little observed or dreamed of...How snug they are somewhere beneath the snow now not to be thought of were it not for those pretty tracks! And for a week or fortnight even of pretty still weather the tracks will remain, to tell of nocturnal adventures of a tiny mouse who was not beneath the notice of the Lord. So it was many thousands of years before Gutenberg invented printing with his types and so it will be thousands of years before his types are forgotten, perchance. The deer mouse will be printing on the snow of Well Meadow to be read by a new race of men." (Same)

*************

Old John Nutting used to say: "When it's cold it's a sign it's going to be warm," and "When it's warm, it's a sign it's going to be cold." (Jan 22)

*************

The coldest day that I remember recording...ink froze. Had to break the ice in my pail with a hammer. Thermometer at 6:45 am. -18 degrees (Jan 23)

*************

Let a slight snow come and cover the the earth, and the tracks of men will show how little the woods and fields are frequented. (February 3)

*************

Yet along that sled track they will have their schools and lyceums and churches like snowheaps crowded up by the furrow, and consider themselves liberally educated...notwithstanding their narrow views and range. (Feb 4)

*************

[He quotes another book:]: "I am now past forty...I perceive also (says the author) that certain delicate spirit begins to evaporate, with which I raised myself by powerful soarings to the contemplation of the beautiful." (Feb 8)

*************

One would think by reading the critics that music was as intermittent as a spring in the dessert, dependent on some Paganini or Mozart...; but music is perpetual, and only hearing is intermittent. I hear it in the softened air of these warm February days which have broken the back of winter. (Feb 8)

*************

In the society of many men or in the midst of what is called success, I find my life of no account and my spirits rapidly fall. ...But when I have only a rustling oak leaf, or the faint metallic cheap of a tree sparrow for variety in my winter walk, my life becomes continent and sweet as the kernal of a nut. (Same)

*************

You think I am impoverishing myself by withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silk web or chrysalis, and nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society... (Same)

*************

I hear that geese went over Cambridge last might. (Feb 18)

*************

A man cannot be said to have succeeded in life who does not satisfy one friend. (Feb 19)

*************

What is hope, what is expectation, but a seed-time whose harvest cannot fail, an irresistible expedition of the mind, at length to be victorious. (Feb 20)

*************

The river for some days and been open and its sap visibly flowing, like the maple.
(Feb 21)

*************

[His friendship with Emerson seems to be breaking up:] You cheat me, you keep me at a distance with your manners. (Feb 23)

*************

If the teeth ache, they can be pulled. If the heart aches, what then? Shall we pluck it out? (Same)

*************

Our friends are our kindred, of our species. There are very few of our species on the globe. (Same)

*************

Those who we can love, we can hate; to others we are indifferent. (Feb 24)

************************************************************

The arrival of spring marks the end of another season of Journal Drippings . Time to put all musty books away and to see what's going on outside. "Drippings" will resume next year on October 1. New adventures await as we explore the mind of one Henry David Thoreau, perchance to find at last "the abutment of a rainbow's arch."

Bill Schechter

***********************************************************
***********************************************************

To the L-S folk on this list: Bill Schechter's retirement party will be on Sat., June 17, at the Donaldson's in Lincoln (behind the library), 7 Old Lexington Road, 1 to 5, open mic at 2:30pm. RSVP if possible so I can get a sense of numbers). All welcome.

 


 

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date, just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net



All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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