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Thoreau and the Language of Trees$
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Richard Higgins and Robert D. Richardson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520294042

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520294042.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 22 May 2022

A Mind for Trees

A Mind for Trees

(p.74) (p.75) 4 A Mind for Trees
Thoreau and the Language of Trees

Richard Higgins

Richard Higgins

University of California Press

Thoreau began studying trees as naturalist in 1851, He noting when they leaf out and turn color in fall. Botany gave him a way to see the invisible energies of trees and new words to describe them. Through close observation, he learned how trees disperse their seeds and regenerate the forest. He dated trees by their rings and calculated their rates of growth. Thoreau never shed his idealism about trees. They were parable and fact to him. A tree’s trunk, root, branch and leaf were universal templates that he found everywhere in nature. Thoreau merged these lenses in “Autumnal Tints.” A tree-by-tree kaleidoscope of the shifting hues in autumn, it is also a meditation on death in nature and it affirms nature’s impulse for renewal.

Keywords:   studying, leaf, leaf out, leaves, botany, disperse, seeds, planted, regenerate, tree rings, succession, idealism, analogy, parable, templates, Autumnal Tints, death, renewal

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