The tree “admired itself reflected in the smooth mirror of the lake” (Walden 157)

“Already, by the first of September, I had seen two or three small maples turned scarlet across the pond, beneath where the white stems of three aspens diverged, at the point of a promontory, next the water. Ah, many a tale their color told! And gradually from week to week the character of each tree came out, and it admired itself reflected in the smooth mirror of the lake. Each morning the manager of this gallery substituted some new picture, distinguished by more brilliant or harmonious coloring, for the old upon the walls.” — Henry David Thoreau, “House Warming,” Walden

Yankee Hill Lake, near Denton, Nebraska, October 2013

Yankee Hill Lake, near Denton, Nebraska, October 2013. There are a few cottonwoods in here, I think.

I don’t live in maple country. I live in cottonwood country. The cottonwood is a prairie tree that grows in the bottomland along streams and rivers. In the old days the uplands were bare of trees and covered with grass. Today that “grass” is mostly corn (which is actually a type of grass). Here, even by late October when these photos were taken the leaves hadn’t all turned, and fall color here means shades of yellow rather than the oranges and deep reds of New England. Such a tree can nevertheless “admire itself” in still water. The leaves are gone now, but we can remember them.

(About  “A Year in Walden”)

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