Going over the hill behind S. Brown’s, when the crossed the triangular space between the roads beyond the pump-maker’s, I saw countless little heaps of sand like the small ant-hills, but, looking more closely, the size of the holes (a little less than a quarter of an inch) and the comparative irregularity of the heaps — as if the sand had been brought forth and dropped in greater quantity at once — attracted my attention and I found they were the work of bees. The bees were hovering low over the surface, and were continually entering and issuing from the holes. They were about the size of a honey-bee, black bodied, with, I thought, yellow thighs, — if it was not pollen. Many of the holes appeared to have been freshly stopped up with granules of moist sand. These holes were made close together in the dry and sandy soil there, with very little grass on it, sloping toward the west, between the roads, and covered a triangular space some seven rods by three. I counted twenty-four in a square foot. There must have been some twenty-five thousand of these nests in all. The surface was yellowed with them. Evidently a kind of raining bee.
May 9. Surveying for Stow near Flint’s Pond. I hear the warbling vireo and oven-bird; yellow- throat vireo (?). One helping me says he scared up a whip-poor-will from the ground. See black birch bloom fallen effete. The first thunder this afternoon.
Within a week I have had made a pair of corduroy pants, which cost when done $1.60. They are of that peculiar clay-color, reflecting the light from portions of their surface. They have this advantage, that, beside being very strong, they will look about as well three months hence as now, — or as ill, some would say. Most of my friends are disturbed by my wearing them. I can get four or five pairs for what one ordinary pair would cost in Boston, and each of the former will last two or three times as long under the same circumstances. The tailor said that the stuff was not made in this country; that it was worn by the Irish at home, and now they would not look at it, but others would not wear it, durable and cheap as it is, because it is worn by the Irish. Moreover, I like the color on other accounts. Anything but black clothes.
I see a wood tortoise by the river there, half covered with the old withered leaves. taking it up, I find that it must have lain perfectly still there for some weeks, for though the grass is all green about it, when I take it up, it leaves just such a bare cavity, in which are seen the compressed white roots of the grass only, as when you take up a stone. This shows how sluggish these creatures are. It is quite lively when I touch it, but I see that it has some time lost the end of its tail, and possibly it has been sick. Yet there was another crawling about within four or five feet. It seems, then, that it will lie just like a stone for weeks immovable in the grass. It lets the season slide
Our earliest currant out. Oat spawn showing little pollywogs (?) in meadow water. The horse-chestnut and mountain-ash leafing. Knawel out at Clamshell; how long? Cerastium out there under the bank. That curly white birch there has about done running sap. Equisetum sylvaticum a day or two on the ditch bank there
Midnight, can’t sleep,
so I sit up, to try my lute.
Curtains catch moonlight
the pure breeze flutters my sleeves.
A lone swan cries: in wilderness,
and flies, crying, to the north woods,
turning, and turning, and gyring there,
Loneliness; to be alone so
wounds heart and mind.
A robin sings when I, in the house, cannot distinguish the earliest dawning from the full moonlight. His song first advertises me of the daybreak, when I thought it was night, as I lay looking out into the full moonlight. I heard a robin begin his strain, and yielded the point to him, believing that he was better acquainted with the springs of the day than I, — with the signs of day.
“Ten thousand things, all in this breath…” why are people in this world so busy? just for this one breath. They say, “busy, busy, mine mine…”, busy a whole lifetime for “Me”. When this breath is cut off you let go of the whole universe. Why not let go from the start?
May 2. Summer vellowbird on the opening Salix alba. Chimney swallows and the bank or else cliff ditto. Small pewee? Our, earliest gooseberry in garden has bloomed. What is that pondweed-like plant floating in a pool near Breed’s, with a slender stem and linear leaves and a small whorl of minute leaves on the surface, and nutlets in the axils of the leaves, along the stein, as if now out of bloom? Missouri currant.
I hear the note of the shy Savannah sparrow (F.Savanna), that plump bird with a dark-streaked breast that runs and hides in the grass, whose note sounds so like a cricket’s in the grass. (I used to hear itwhen I walked by moonlight last sum mer.) I hear it now from deep in the sod, — for there is hardly grass yet. The bird keeps so low you do not see it. You do not suspect how many there are till at length their heads appear. The word seringo reminds me of its note, — as if it were produced by some kind of fine metallic spring. It is an earth-sound. It is a moist, lowering morning for the mayers.