Imago lacus

The picture above was taken by a dear friend, the American poet Debra Kang Dean (please do not use it without permission). I met Debra three years before, when I went to Walden to work with his late husband Brad, a great Thoreau scholar. Once we spent hours tracking this quotation: "Some men go fishing all their lives without ever realizing it's not fish they are after." We concluded that Thoreau never wrote it, but si non è vero...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

October 1857

October 5. 1 P. M.--To Yellow Birch Swamp. […] Begins now ten days of perfect Indian summer without rain; and the eleventh and twelfth days equally warm, though rainy. I go north by Jarvis's lane from the old pump-maker's house. There is not that profusion and consequent confusion of events which belongs to a summer's walk. There are few flowers, birds, insects, or fruits now, and hence what does occur affects us as more simple and significant. The cawing of a crow, the scream of a jay. The latter seems to scream more fitly and with more freedom now that some fallen maple leaves have made way for his voice. The jay's voice resounds through the vacancies occasioned by fallen maple leaves.

 Oct. 28. […] I look up and see a male marsh hawk with his cleancut wings, that has just skimmed past above my head,--not at all disturbed, only tilting his body a little, now twenty rods off, with demi-semi-quaver of his wings. He is a very neat flyer. Again, I hear the scream of a hen-hawk, soaring and circling onward. I do not often see the marsh hawk thus. What a regular figure this fellow makes on high, with his broad tail and broad wings! Does he perceive me, that he rises higher and circles to one side? He goes round now one full circle without a flap, tilting his wing a little; then flaps three or four times and rises higher. Now he comes on like a billow, screaming. Steady as a planet in its orbit, with his head bent down, but on second thought that small sprout-land seems worthy of a longer scrutiny, and he gives one circle backward over it. His scream is somewhat like the whinnering of a horse, if it is not rather a split squeal. It is a hoarse, tremulous breathing forth of his winged energy. But why is it so regularly repeated at that height? Is it to scare his prey, that he may see by its motion where it is, or to inform its mate or companion of its whereabouts? Now he crosses the at present broad river steadily, deserving to have one or two rabbits at least to swing about him. What majesty there is in this small bird's flight! The hawks are large-souled.

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