perfect shelter; the island forms a high, circular bank, like a coral reef, and shuts out the wind and the passing boats; the surface is paved with leaves of lily and pond-weed, and the boughs above are full of song.
No matter what white caps may crest the blue waters of the pond, which here widens out to its broadest reach, there is always quiet here.
A few oar-strokes distant lies a dam or water-break, where the whole lake is held under control by certain distant mills, towards which a sluggish stream goes winding on through miles of water-lilies.
The old gray timbers of the dam are the natural resort of every boy or boatman within their reach; some come in pursuit of pickerel, some of turtles, some of bullfrogs, some of lilies, some of bathing.
It is a good place for the last desideratum, and it is well to leave here the boat tethered to the vines which overhang the cove, and perform a sacred and Oriental
ablution beneath the sunny afternoon.
O radiant and divine afternoon!
The poets profusely celebrate silver evenings and golden mornings; but what floods on floods of beauty steep the earth and gladden it in the first hours of days decline!
The exuberant rays reflect and multiply themselves from every leaf and blade; the cows lie upon the hillside, with their broad, peaceful backs painted into the landscape; the hum of insects, ‘tiniest bells on the garment of silence’, fills the air; the gorgeous butterflies doze upon the thistle-blooms till they almost fall from the petals; the air is full of warm fragrance from the wild-grape clusters; the grass is burning hot beneath the naked feet in sunshine, and cool as water in the shade.
Diving from this overhanging beam,—for Ovid
evidently meant that Midas
to be cured must dive,—
Subde caput, corpusque simul, simul elue crinem
one finds as kindly a reception from the water as in childish days, and as safe a shelter in the green dressing-room afterwards; and the patient wherry floats near by, in readiness for a re-embarkation.
Here a word seems needed, unprofessionally and non-technically, upon boats,—these being the sole scats provided for occupant or visitor in my out-door study.
When wherries first appeared in this peaceful inland community, the novel proportions occasioned remark.
Facetious bystanders inquired sarcastically whether that thing were expected to carry more than one,—plainly implying by labored emphasis that it would occasionally be seen tenanted by even less than that number.
Transcendental friends inquired, with more refined severity, if the proprietor expected to meditate in that thing?
This doubt at least seemed legitimate.
Meditation seems to belong to sailing rather than rowing; there is something so