THE following notes contain, in a journal form, the simple record of those little events which make up the course of the seasons in rural life. In wandering about the fields, during a long unbroken residence in the country, one naturally gleans many trifling observations on rustic matters which are afterwards remembered with pleasure by the fireside, and gladly shared with one's friends. The following pages were written in perfect ...
THE following notes contain, in a journal form, the simple record of those little events which make up the course of the seasons in rural life. In wandering about the fields, during a long unbroken residence in the country, one naturally gleans many trifling observations on rustic matters which are afterwards remembered with pleasure by the fireside, and gladly shared with one's friends. The following pages were written in perfect good faith, all the trifling incidents alluded to having occurred as they are recorded. It is hoped that some of our friends who, like the honored Hooker, love the country, "where we may see God's blessings spring out of the earth," may find something of interest in the volume.
The present edition is a revised one, and some passages not needed to-day have been omitted.
March 16, 1887.
An excerpt from the first section:
SATURDAY, March 4th.–Everything about us looks thoroughly wintry still, and fresh snow lies on the ground to the depth of a foot. One quite enjoys the sleighing, however, as there was very little last month. Drove several miles down the valley, this morning, in the teeth of a sharp wind and flurries of snow, but after facing the cold bravely, one brings home a sort of virtuous glow which is not to be picked up by cowering over the fireside; it is with this as with more important matters, the effort brings its own reward.
Tuesday, 7th.–Milder; thawing. Walking near the river saw three large waterfowl moving northward; we believed them to be loons; they were in sight only for a moment, owing to the trees above us, but we heard a loud howling cry as they flew past, like that of those birds. It is early for loons, however, and we may have been deceived. They usually appear about the first of April, remaining with us through the summer and autumn until late in December, when they go to the seashore; many winter about Long Island, many more in the Chesapeake. Not long since we saw one of these birds of unusual size, weighing nineteen pounds; it had been caught in Seneca Lake on the hook of what fishermen call a set-line, dropped to the depth of ninety-five feet, the bird having dived that distance to reach the bait. Several others have been caught in the same manner in Seneca Lake upon lines sunk from eighty to one hundred feet. It may be doubted if any other feathered thing goes so far beneath the water. There is, however, another, and a much smaller bird, the Dipper, or ousel, which is still more at home in the water than the loon, and that without being web-footed, but it is probably less of a diver. The Dipper must indeed be a very singular bird; instead of swimming on the surface of the water like ducks and geese, or beneath like the loons, or wading along the shores like many of the long-legged coast tribes, it actually runs or flies about at will over gravelly beds of mountain streams. Mr. Charles Buonaparte mentions having frequently watched them among the brooks of the Alps and Apennines, where they are found singly, or in pairs, haunting torrents and cataracts with perfect impunity, or running hither and thither along the stony bottom of more quiet streams. They cannot swim, however; and they drop suddenly into the water from above, or at times they walk leisurely in from the bank, flying as it were beneath the surface, moving with distended wings. Their nests are said to be usually built on some point projecting over a mountain stream, either in a tree, or upon a rock; and the young, when alarmed, instantly drop into the water below for safety. They are not common birds even in their native haunts, but wild and solitary creatures, smaller than our robin, and of a dark, grave plumage. Until lately the Dipper was supposed to be unknown on this continent, but more recently it has been discovered at several different points in our part of the world, frequenting, as in Europe, wild lakes and rocky streams of limpid water.
Wednesday, 8th.–Very pleasant day; quite spring-like. The snow is melting fast. Spring in the air, in the light, and in the sky, although the earth is yet unconscious of its approach. We have weather as mild as this in December, but there is something in the fulness and softness of the light beaming in the sky this morning which tells of spring,–the early dawn before the summer day. A little downy woodpecker and a bluejay were running about the apple-trees hunting for insects; we watched them awhile with interest, for few birds are seen here during the winter.
Thursday, 9th.–Winter again; the woods are powdered with snow this morning, and every twig is cased in glittering frost-work. The pines in the churchyard are very beautiful–hung with heavy wreaths of snow; but it is thawing fast, and before night they will be quite green again....