April 1, 1854: Henry David Thoreau smells Spring

The tree sparrows, hyemalis, and song sparrows are particularly lively and musical in the yard this rainy and truly April day. The air rings with them. The robin now begins to sing sweet powerfully.

April has begun like itself. It is warm and showery, while I sail away with a light southwest wind toward the Rock. Sometimes the sun seems just ready to burst out, yet I know it will not. The meadow is becoming bare. It resounds with the sprayey notes of blackbirds. The birds sing this warm, showery day after a fortnight’s cold (yesterday was wet too), with a universal burst and flood of melody. Great flocks of hyemalis, etc., pass overhead like schools of fishes in the water, many abreast.musrat

The white maple stamens are beginning to peep out from the wet and weather beater buds. The earliest alders are just ready to bloom – to show their yellow – on the first decidedly warm and sunny day. The water is smooth at last and dark. Ice no longer forms on the oars. It is pleasant to paddle under the dripping hemlocks this dark day. They make more of a wilderness impression than pines.

The lines of sawdust from Barrett’s mill at different heights on the steep, wet bank under the hemlocks rather enhance the impression of freshness and wildness, as if it were a new country. Saw a painted tortoise on the bottom. The bark of poplar boughs which have been held in the ice along the sides of the river the past winter is gnawed, probably by muskrats, Saw floating a good sized rooster without a head, – the red stump sticking out, – probably killed by an owl. Heard a bird whose note was very much like that of the purple finch, – loud and clear.

First smelled the muskrat. Yesterday and to-day I hear the cackle of the flicker, so agreeable from association. It brings the year about.

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