Friday, August 12, 2016

The Concord and the Merrimack, Part I: The White Water-Lily

Keeping in the spirit of nature and adventure writing, I decided to read this after Desert Solitaire. Written in 1849, ten years after the river cruise he took with his brother John, it is an account of their journey along the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Leaving on a Saturday afternoon in late August, Thoreau describes the end of summer flowers along the river bank and in the meadows nearby, and then recalls the "queen of the river flowers":

"In short, Nature seemed to have adorned herself for our departure with a profusion of fringes and curls, mingled with the bright tints of flowers reflected in the water. But we missed the white water-lily, which is the queen of river flowers, its reign being over for this season. He makes his voyage too late, perhaps, by a true water clock who delays so long. Many of this species inhabit our Concord water. I have passed down the river before sunrise on a summer morning between fields of lilies still shut in sleep; and when, at length, the flakes of sunlight from over the bank fell on the surface of the water, whole fields of white blossoms seemed to flash open before me, as I floated along, like the unfolding of a banner, so sensible is this flower to the influence of the sun's rays."

Can't you just see it?

I am just beginning this book, but could not wait to share this lovely passage with you.

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