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Reflection: A Day in May 160 Years Ago, as Recorded in Thoreau’s Journal

May 17, 1857—Round Walden

Gold thread is abundantly out at Trillium woods. The yellow birch catkins, now fully out or a little past prime, are very handsome now, numerous clusters of rich golden catkins hanging straight down at a height from the ground at the end of the pendulous branches, amid the just expanding leaf-buds. It is like some great chandelier hung high over the underwood. So too with the canoe birch. Such black as I see is not quite so forward yet. The canoe, yellow, and black birches are among the handsomest trees when in bloom. The bunches of numerous golden catkins hanging straight down on all sides and trembling in the breeze contrast agreeably with the graceful attitude of the tree, commonly more or less inclined, the leaves not being enough expanded to conceal them in the least. They should be seen against evergreens on a hillside—something so light and airy, so graceful. What nymphs are they?