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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, April days (search)
Even so good an observer as Wilson Flagg is betrayed into saying that the epigaea and hepatica seldom make their appearance until after the middle of April in Massachusetts, and that it is not unusual for the whole month of April to pass away without producing more than two or three species of wild-flowers. But I have formerly foh snowdrops are sometimes found in February even here. But, on the other hand, it would appear that, though a larger number of birds winter in England than in Massachusetts, yet the return of those which migrate is actually earlier among us. From journals which were kept during sixty years in England, and an abstract of which is p nook the sacred Andromeda polifolia of Linnaeus. Now vanished almost or wholly from city suburbs, these fragile creatures still linger in more rural parts of Massachusetts; but they are doomed everywhere, unconsciously, yet irresistibly; while others still more shy, as the Linnaea, the yellow Cypripedium, the early pink Azalea, a
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, My out-door study (search)
ient acquaintance. A reporter cannot step out between the sessions of a caucus and give a racy abstract of the landscape. It may consume the best hours of many days to certify for one's self the simplest out-door fact, but every such piece of knowledge is intellectually worth the time. Even the driest and barest book of Natural History is good and nutritious, so far as it goes, if it represents genuine acquaintance; one can find summer in January by poring over the Latin catalogues of Massachusetts plants and animals in Hitchcock's Report. The most commonplace out-door society has the same attraction. Every one of those old outlaws who haunt our New-England ponds and marshes, water-soaked and soakers of something else,—intimate with the pure fluid in that familiarity which breeds contempt,—has yet a wholesome side when you explore his knowledge of frost and freshet, pickerel and musk-rat, and is exceedingly good company while you can keep him beyond scent of the tavern. Any inte
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, The life of birds (search)
n New England, among birds as among men, the roving habit seems unusually strong, and abodes are shifted very rapidly. The whole number of species observed in Massachusetts is about the same as in England,—some three hundred in all. But of this number, in England, about a hundred habitually winter on the island, and half that numbes; several Finches,—Bachmann's, the White-Crowned, the Indigo, and the Nonpareil; and, finally, the Bobolink. Among those birds of this list which frequent Massachusetts, Audubon might well put the Wood-Thrush at the head. As I sat the other day in the deep woods beside a black brook which dropped from stone to stone beneath tf the mountain, and probably never came down through the season. That was its Arctic; and it would probably yet be found, he predicted, on Wachusett and other Massachusetts peaks. It is known that the Snow-Bird, or Snow-Flake, as it is called in England, was reported by Audubon as having only once been proved to build in the Unit
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, The procession of the flowers (search)
h triumph to see how Nature has outwitted the Pilgrims, and even succeeded in preserving her deer like an English duke, still maintaining the deepest woods in Massachusetts precisely where those sturdy immigrants first began their clearings. The Hepatica (called also Liverwort, Squirrel-Cup, or Blue Anemone) has been found in Whould have the earliest place; indeed, I once found it in Brookline on the seventh of April. But it cannot ordinarily be expected before the twentieth, in Eastern Massachusetts, and rather later in the interior; while by the same date I have also found near Boston the Cowslip, or Marsh-Marigold, the Spring-Saxifrage, the Anemones,iod are usually in perfection on this day, and it is not long before they are past their prime. Some early plants which have now almost disappeared from Eastern Massachusetts are still found near Worcester in the greatest abundance,—as the larger Yellow Violet, the Red Trillium, the dwarf Ginseng. the Clintonia or Wild Lily-of-
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, Snow (search)
the cold of hell; language fails me to describe its rigorous temperature. Some have thought that there is a similar allusion in the phrase, weeping and gnashing of teeth,—the teeth chattering from frost. Milton also enumerates cold as one of the torments of the lost,— O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp; and one may sup full of horrors on the exceedingly cold collation provided for the next world by the Norse Edda. But, after all, there are but few such terrific periods in our Massachusetts winters, and the appointed exit from their frigidity is usually through a snow-storm. After a day of this severe sunshine there comes commonly a darker day of cloud, still hard and forbidding, though milder in promise, with a sky of lead, deepening near the horizon into darker films of iron. Then, while all the nerves of the universe seem rigid and tense, the first reluctant flake steals slowly down, like a tear. In a few hours the whole atmosphere begins to relax once more, and in ou