At the extreme cast side of Trillium Wood, come upon a black snake, which at first keeps still prudently, thinking I may not see him, — in the grass in open land, — then glides to the edge of the wood and darts swiftly up into the top of some slender shrubs there — Viburnum dentatum and alder — and lies stretched out, eying me, in horizontal loops eight feet high.
Saw two splendid rose-breasted grosbeaks with females in the young wood in Emerson’s lot. What strong- colored fellows, black, white, and fiery rose-red breasts! Strong-natured, too, with their stout bills. A clear, sweet singer, like a tanager but hoarse somewhat, and not shy. The redstarts are inquisitive and hop near.
Saw the yellow-legs feeding on shore. Legs not bright-yellow. Goes off with the usual whistle; also utters a long monotonous call as it were standing on the shore, not so whistling. Am inclined to think it the lesser yellow-legs (though I think the only one we see). Yet its bill appears quite two inches long. Is it curved up?
It is a splendid day, so clear and bright and fresh; the warmth of the air and the bright tender verdure putting forth on all sides make an impression of luxuriance and genialness, so perfectly fresh and uncankered. A sweet scent fills the air from the expanding leafets or some other source. The earth is all fragrant as one flower. And bobolinks tinkle in the air. Nature now is perfectly genial to man. I noticed the dark shadow of Conantum Cliff from the water. Why do I notice it at this season particularly? Is it because a shadow is more grateful to the sight now that warm weather has come? Or is there anything in the contrast between the rich green of the grass and the cool dark shade?
The first cricket’s chirrup which I have chanced to hear now falls on my ear and makes me forget all else; all else is a thin and movable crust down to that depth where he resides eternally. He already foretells autumn. Deep under the dry border of some rock in this hillside he sits, and makes the finest singing of birds outward and insignificant, his own song is so much deeper and more significant. His voice has set me thinking, philosophizing, moralizing at once. It is not so wildly melodious, but it is wiser and more mature than that of the wood thrush. With this elixir I see clear through the summer now to autumn, and any summer work seems frivolous. I am disposed to ask this humblebee that hurries humming past so busily, if he knows what he is about. At one leap I go from the just opened buttercup to the life-everlasting. This singer has antedated autumn. His strain is superior (inferior?) to seasons. It annihilates time and space; the summer is for time-servers.
he best men that I know are not serene, a world in themselves. They dwell in form. They flatter and study effect, only more finely than the rest. The world to me appears uninhabited. My neighbors select granite for the underpinning of their houses and barns; they build their fences of stone; but they do not themselves rest on an underpinning of granite. Their sills are rotten. What stuff is the man made of who is not coexistent in your thought with the purest and subtlest truth? While there are manners and compliments we do not meet. I accuse my finest acquaintances of an immense frivolity. They do not teach me the lessons of honesty and sincerity that the brute beasts do, or of steadiness and solidity that the rocks do. I cannot associate with those who do not understand me.
Where are the men who dwell in thought? Talk, — that is palaver! at which men hurrah and clap! The manners of the bear are so far good that he does not pay you any compliments .
If I have got false teeth, I trust that I have not got a false conscience. It is safer to employ the dentist than the priest to repair the deficiencies of nature.
By taking the ether the other day I was convinced how far asunder a man could be separated from his senses. You are told that it will make you unconscious, but no one can imagine what it is to be unconscious — how far removed from the state of consciousness and all that we call ” this world ” — until he has experienced it. The value of the experiment is that it does give you experience of an interval as between one life and another, — a greater space than you ever travelled. You are a sane mind without organs, — groping for organs, — which if it did not soon recover its old senses would get new ones. You expand like a seed in the ground. You exist in your roots, like a tree in the winter. If you have an inclination to travel, take the ether; you go beyond the furthest star.
It is not necessary for them to take ether, who in their sane and waking hours are ever translated by a thought; nor for them to see with their hindheads, who sometimes see from their foreheads; nor listen to the spiritual knockings, who attend to the intimations of reason and conscience.
Sunrise, — merely a segment of a circle of rich amber in the east, growing brighter and brighter at one point. There is no rosy color at this moment and not a speck in the sky, and now comes the sun without pomp, a bright liquid gold. Dews come with the grass. There is, I find on examining, a small, clear drop at the end of each blade, quite at the top on one side.
The hand-organ, when I am far enough off not to hear the friction of the machinery, not to see or be reminded of the performer, serves the grandest use for me, deepens my existence. Heard best through walls and obstructions. These performers, too, have come with the pleasant weather and the birds.
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.