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WAYS OF NATURE I was much amused lately by a half-dozen or more letters that came to me from some Californian schoolchildren, who wrote to ask if I would please tell them whether or not birds have sense. One little girl said: "I would be pleased if you would write and tell me if birds have sense. I wanted to see if I couldn't be the first one to know." I felt obliged to reply to the children that we ourselves do not have sense enough to know... more...

UNDERTHE MAPLES I THE FALLING LEAVES The time of the falling of leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept. How beautifully the leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days! There are exceptions, of course. The leaves of most of the fruit-trees fade and wither and fall... more...

THE LONG ROAD I The long road I have in mind is the long road of evolution,—the road you and I have traveled in the guise of humbler organisms, from the first unicellular life in the old Cambrian seas to the complex and highly specialized creature that rules supreme in the animal kingdom to-day. Surely a long journey, stretching through immeasurable epochs of geologic time, and attended by vicissitudes of which we can form but feeble... more...

In coming before the public with a newly made edition of my writings, what can I say to my reader at this stage of our acquaintance that will lead to a better understanding between us? Probably nothing. We understand each other very well already. I have offered myself as his guide to certain matters out of doors, and to a few matters indoor, and he has accepted me upon my own terms, and has, on the whole been better pleased with me than I had any... more...

JOHN BURROUGHS John Burroughs was born April 3, 1837, in a little farmhouse among the Catskill Mountains. He was, like most other country boys, acquainted with all the hard work of farm life and enjoyed all the pleasures of the woods and streams. His family was poor, and he was forced at an early date to earn his own living, which he did by teaching school. At the age of twenty-five he chanced to read a volume of Audubon, and this proved the... more...


EMERSON AND HIS JOURNALS I Emerson's fame as a writer and thinker was firmly established during his lifetime by the books he gave to the world. His Journals, published over a quarter of a century after his death, nearly or quite double the bulk of his writing, and while they do not rank in literary worth with his earlier works, they yet throw much light upon his life and character and it is a pleasure to me, in these dark and troublesome times,... more...

SQUIRRELS Walking through the early October woods one day, I came upon a place where the ground was thickly strewn with very large unopened chestnut burrs. On examination I found that every burr had been cut square off with about an inch of the stem adhering, and not one had been left on the tree. It was not accident, then, but design. Whose design? A squirrel’s. The fruit was the finest I had ever seen in the woods, and some wise squirrel... more...

INTRODUCTION The eight essays in this volume all deal with the home region of their author; for not only did Mr. Burroughs begin life in the Catskills, and dwell among them until early manhood, but, as he himself declares, he has never taken root anywhere else. Their delectable heights and valleys have engaged his deepest affections as far as locality is concerned, and however widely he journeys and whatever charms he discovers in nature... more...

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. Nature chose the spring of the year for the time of John Burroughs's birth. A little before the day when the wake-robin shows itself, that the observer might be on hand for the sight, he was born in Roxbury, Delaware County, New York, on the western borders of the Catskill Mountains; the precise date was April 3, 1837. Until 1863 he remained in the country about his native place, working on his father's farm, getting his... more...

THE BLUEBIRD It is sure to be a bright March morning when you first hear the bluebird's note; and it is as if the milder influences up above had found a voice and let a word fall upon your ear, so tender is it and so prophetic, a hope tinged with a regret. There never was a happier or more devoted husband than the male bluebird. He is the gay champion and escort of the female at all times, and while she is sitting he feeds her regularly. It is... more...