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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID





THE STREAMS THAT I HAVE KNOWN BEST AND LOVED MOST.

1. Raccoon Creek near Portland Mills, Ind.

2. Looking down Walnut Creek from the bridge on the Rockville-Danville
road.



WOODLAND IDYLS



BY

W. S. BLATCHLEY

AUTHOR OF "GLEANINGS FROM NATURE," "A NATURE WOOING.
"BOULDER REVERIES." ETC.



"Our thoughts are the epochs in our lives; all
else is but a journal of the winds that blew while
we were here." Thoreau



INDIANAPOLIS

THE NATURE PUBLISHING COMPANY
1912



Copyright, 1912

BY W. S. BLATCHLEY

All rijfhts reserved



PRESS OF

WM. B. BURFORD

INDIANAPOLIS



To my friend, James Whitcomb Kiley himself a
poet of nature, a poet of the people, content with
little things as themes this book I dedicate.



Contents.



PAGE

AUGUST REVERIES 7

JUNE-TIME FANCIES 65

JULY MUSINGS. . . 151



Preface.



"Be ye satisfied with little things" should be
the adage or precept set before the eyes of every
one who in the woods seeks fancies for his
brain, contentment for his soul. The little
things of nature, her wayside weeds, her birds
and butterflies, her boulders large and pebbles
small, her odors sweet, her songs of winds and
rippling waters, her grasses green and posies
gay, these and many others she offered unto me
as themes when with her I sojourned. With a
tent as shelter I spent on three occasions a week
or two with her in western Indiana. Through
her old pastures and along her streams I wan-
dered free and wrote of these her little offer-
ings ; wrote also at times of that earth to which
my dust belongs and of t]je sun, her ruler.
What I wrote was mine, free from all influence
or bias of other human brain, and as such, in
the words there penned, I offer it to you.

Thousands of men, now toilers in the cities,
were country-bred. For a week or two each
summer most of them can get away. Then
should they to the country hie and live again
the simple life. There can they sleep with a
canvas for a canopy, walk far and wide with



6 WOODLAND IDYLS.

open eye and ear alert, breathe the pure airs
of heaven, drink the clear waters of the crys-
tal springs, gather wild fruits from nature's
bushes, fish for' small fry with old cane poles
and angleworms, and be boys again. The cost
of such an outing is little, the benefits great.
Back to the year's labor will they come with
faces bronzed, with heart blood filling every
tiny vein, with mind envigored and with soul
content ; back with a new love of the great out-
of-doors, with a higher regard for their fellow
toilers on the farms. Be not satisfied till ye
have tried it once, and when there be ye con-
tent with little things.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND., JANUARY 6, 1912.



August Reveries.



"My journal should be the record of my love for
Nature. I would write in it only of the things I love,
my affection for an aspect of the world."

Thoreau.

Sunday, August 2 t '08. August time again!
Time for a cessation from the year 's labor ;
time for the rest which comes or should come to
the husbandman; time for days of peace and
do-nothingness for the naturalist! Days in
which he may loll and listen to the call of the
cardinal, the cry of the wood pewee, the cackle
of the flicker.. For in August, if ever, can he
with a clear conscience thus loll and listen,
ponder and plan, dream new dreams of worlds
yet unconquered which never will be conquered,
of deeds yet undone which never will be done,
for time, the reaper of all, pauses not and the
dreams of the slothful are never realized.

To-day I begin housekeeping by myself. This
morn have I pitched my tent for a week's so-
journ on "Oak Point" in the old woods pas-
ture; pitched it "high and dry" says the owner
of the pasture who helped me set it up. My
camp site is about one-eighth of a mile south-
west of the boulder nook and three-fourths of
a mile south of the old farm house, both of

7



8 WOODLAND IDYLS.

which I have often mentioned in another work. 1
To the east a third of a mile is my nearest
neighbor and from his famous "limestone
spring" I shall carry my drinking water. The
branch at the base of the cliff or knoll will be
my bathing place, and an old oak top my source
of wood for cooking. The burrow of a marmot
is within twenty feet of my south tent wall and
the home of some fox squirrels in the surround-
ing oaks. The cry of the dog-day locust, full
of the languor of the August tide, will lull my
daylight hours and the calls of the katydids and
tree crickets those of my evenings.

It is not so much the days that I wish to
spend on this wooded knoll, as the nights, the
gloaming of the evenings, the twilight of the
morns. On many occasions days have I spent
here; that is, the hours from eight A. M. to six
P. M., part or all of them, but what do the
woods have to offer by night? What ghosts of
the Indians of long ago roam by? What foxes,
raccoons, skunks and other night prowling var-
mints wander here in search of provender?
That would I know. Both ghosts and varmints
would I welcome.

A tent should be only a sleeping place, a shel-
ter for food, bedding and other possessions in
time of storm, not an abiding place. When one
"camps" his days should be passed out of

1 Boulder Reveries.



MY FIRST CAMP VISITORS. 9

doors, where air untrammeled can fan his brow,
where turf or sward, soft and yielding, will
furnish a resting place, where no shelter other
than the shade of his forest companions, the
trees, will be his.

By eight o'clock my tent is up. Already the
turtle doves and "red-heads" have welcomed
me. My first real visitor is a bald hornet in
search of a breakfast. Without a "by your
leave" he flies into the open door of the tent,
butts against the top in various places, then is
out and away, his quest unsuccessful. Should
he come again to-morrow he will doubtless have
better luck, for no flies as yet are using the
ceiling for a resting place.

A gray-winged grasshopper alighfs on the
sloping roof of the tent and basks contentedly
in the sunshine, his hues harmonizing very
prettily with his canvas couch. A great black
and yellow butterfly, the giant swallowtail, 2
comes wigwagging his way across the point, fly-
ing but a few feet above the earth. One of his
cousins, a blue swallowtail, 3 has been dodging
in and out among the oak branches for an hour
or more. A white-breasted nuthatch or " devil-
do wnhead" 4 is my next caller. Like a bashful
maiden he at first glances at me askance, then
utters his cheery note of welcome as he hops



^Papilio cresphontes Cram. 3 Papilio philenor L.

4 Sitta carolinensis Latr.



10 WOODLAND IDYLS.

down the side of the oak tree on my right. Two
or three times he pauses and gazes at the tent,
wondering, perchance, what kind of a queer
monster has suddenly appeared within the con-
fines of his daily hunting grounds. Then, with
a final "kah-kah," he is up and away.

I walk over to the boulder glade and on the
way three species of Locustidae or katydids im-
press themselves upon my consciousness; first
a fork-tailed katydid, 5 arising from the grass
along the border of the pathway and shuffling
its way in aimless zigzag* fashion to the shelter
of some shrub; second, the sound of a true or
broad-winged katydid, 6 which methinks is work-
ing over time sounding his cymbals at near mid-
day when the scorching sun of an August morn
is beating down around him ; I third, a male of
the oblique-winged katydid, 7 silent as usual, sit-
ting motionless on the side of a boulder, wait-
ing for what? For a mate to share his exist-
ence ? For the coming of nightfall to sound his
" tic-tic " love call, or for the unknown and un-
knowable to fathom his being and remove him
into that "life beyond" where all good katy-
dids sojourn?

I trust that the boulder genii will not become
jealous because I have pitched my tent on Oak
Point, and fail to appear when here I seat my-
self during the days to come. For often shall



6 Scudderia curvicauda DeG. 6 Cyrtophyllus perspicillatus L.

7 MICT ocentrum laurifolium L.



A FLOWER OF THE HOUR. 11

I cross over to visit them, to dream with them,
to pay homage unto them by night as well as
by day. Genii of Inspiration wherever thou
doth dwell how many, many mortals do call
upon thee to aid them in seeking fame, yet how
often, how often, are the calls unanswered!
Many conditions must arise, converge, meet at
a common point, cross and merge, before the
hour is ripe for thy work to be done.

The prunella, 8 flower of the hour, has greeted
me from many places as I trudged along this
morn. A lowly herb it is, yet to my eyes ever
pleasing ; the bluish purple of its upper lip con-
trasting prettily with the paler purple of the
lower and lateral lobes. The cylindrical head,
topping the main stem and giving forth its
flowers at irregular intervals from May unto
October, is often slightly bowed, as if in rever-
ence to that sun, "Lord of the grass and the
hill/' which ruleth over all. Flower of the
shade it is, lowly herb of the brooklet's rim and
the scantily grass-clothed slopes. The purplish
upper lip reflects the blue of the sky the paler
lower one, the purity of the sod, the elements
of earth, of growth. As the season ages the
opposite oblong lanceolate leaves, one to two
inches in length and borne on daintily fringed
petioles, often turn a handsome pinkish red,
first on the under side, then above. One now



8 Prunella vulgaris L.



12 WOODLAND IDYLS.

visible on the slope below me has all the leaves
of this hue. Attractive not only to my eyes but
also to those of the bumble-bee, the low flying
butterflies and other nectar loving insects, the
delicately hued prunella or heal-all lives and
dies in many a secluded glen, on many a shaded
slope of this old woods pasture.

I stretch myself out face downward upon the
sward by the side of the boulders. I thrust my
nose deep among the grass roots. I inhale the
odors of the earth, earthy. Not as penetrating
are they as in early spring when they arise
freely from the frost-rifted sod, yet they are
present in sufficient force to be easily gathered
by my sense of smell. I stretch out my arms
and burrow my fingers deep into the soil. Close
to the earth which I love so well thus do I rest,
close as I can get without being buried beneath
her bosom. One of countless billions of para-
sites thus do I render homage this hour unto
my mother. I tickle her crust. An ant, another
of her parasites, tickles meanwhile my skin.
Perchance a parasite of third degree tickles the
skin of the ant. What matters it? We are all
from her. My span of arms outstretched can
embrace but an infinitesimal part of her form.
Would that I could reach around and for once
hold her firmly in a fast embrace. Soon enough
will she hold me thus.

Day after day I tramp over her crust, seldom



A PRISONER OF EARTH. 13

thinking of her as a globe, a planet, a moving
thing, created by, controlled by, the Overlord
of all. She occupies space and moves through
it just as do I. Although but a parasite upon
her surface yet ever doth she hold me prisoner.
Freely she lets me walk or sail or move other-
wise at will; freely she permits me to tickle or
caress her crust, yet the moment I essay to
leave her by leaping upward and outward into
space, quickly she pulls me back. If by some
strategy I manage to get too far away she be-
comes vexed and jerks me back with such a
thud that my bones are broken or my flesh
badly bruised. Indeed no man or other animal,
no plant or even rock has ever been able to
elude her powerful grasp.

Far out into space I often gaze and see other
planets like her, which I fain would visit, yet
ever does she, and ever will she, say me nay.
For of her I am a part; bone, muscle, nerve
all has she given, has she mothered. For years
she suckles me, then growing tired, of my insa-
tiate demands she weans me, takes back unto
herself the matter which is her own and in time
yields it to another more subservient to her will.

Although I know that soon she will tire of
me, my love for her each day doth grow. Closer
would I get to her yet remain upon her surface.
Into my ears would I have her whisper her in-
most secrets. Her winds would I have play for



14 WOODLAND IDYLS.

me their sweetest music. I would see her fair-
est sights, taste her most delicious savors, sense
her most fragrant odors.

And so again I stretch myself out and look
not upward into the blue vault of heaven but
downward amongst the roots of her grasses and
her mosses. Lying thus I hear the gentle dron-
ings and buzzings of her crawling creatures,
smell the concentrated odors of her blanket of
mold and feel the great heart-throb of the
mother in unison with that of mine. Lying
thus there also falls upon me from above the
smile and blessing of her progenitor and para-
mour, father to me and all to which she ever
has or ever will give birth master of her and
many others of her kind the sun.

It is eventide. Around me, as I sit in my
doorway, the rain drops are falling, falling
with a gentle murmur and pelter on leaf of
tree, on stem of grass, on the sloping roof of
tent. A cricket chirrups from some safe re-
treat. A chipping sparrow alights near with a
green caterpillar in its bill. On the slope be-
fore me a pair of flickers are seeking ants and
other ground frequenting insects. Soon they
fly, their white rump patches showing prettily
while on the wing. Away they go to the bole
of a maple, alight on its side and dodging from
one another around it, engage in a merry game



SOUNDS OF EVENING. 15

of hide and seek, uttering at intervals their
playful "a- wick, a- wick, a- wick/'

The dark green of maple and juniper and
papaw contrast vividly with the lighter hue
of walnut and sycamore and blue-grass. The
earth is greedily soaking up the slowly falling
moisture. The gray clouds are doleful, pall
upon the spirit, keep suppressed the thoughts
which might well up did the beams of the set-
ting sun but fall around me. From somewhere,
out of the flotsam of the past as stored in mem-
ory's cells, there comes the phrase: "For the
turmoil in his soul has ended and peace has
come at last." For me it is not the peace of
death but the peace of content content with a
day of leisure now gone, content with nature,
almost unbroken, for my abiding place.

The rain soon ceases, but the clouds remain.
The katydids begin to whet their wing covers
in preparation for their nightly serenade. The
long trill of a tree-toad comes intermittently
from the valley below. The sound of a wagon
driven rapidly across a wooden bridge travels
sharp and clear from half a mile or more. A
screech owl begins his plaintive whining note.
A whippoorwill utters two or three calls, then
ceases, for his love days for this year are over,
and not again will he make the welkin ring till
the wee hours of the morn. With such sounds



16 WOODLAND IDYLS.

do the denizens of the old pasture lull me into
peaceful rest, into slumber sweet.

Monday, August 3. Up at 4 :20. The eastern
sky resplendent with, the glow of the coming
sun; the morning star, a diamond shining with
slowly fading brilliancy before the advancing
splendor of the orb of day ; the distant pastoral
sounds of crowing cocks, barking dogs, lowing
cattle and ba-aing sheep; the clear ringing call
of a cardinal; the scolding notes of jay and
woodpecker these my morning greetings.

A thin mist rises from the valley. A cool
moist atmosphere with heavy dewfall has fol-
lowed the shower of yester-eve. I light my
breakfast fire and the smoke, with pleasing
aroma, rises heavenward, an incense to greet the
coming of the first rays of the sun. The hot
air rises with such force that it causes the o'er-
hanging boughs of oak to sway up and down
as though a stiff breeze were blowing.

In boiling my potatoes I, by mistake, got a
pear in the kettle and did not find it out until
I came to test them with the fork to see if they
were done. I ate the pear with a little sugar
added and found it was delicious. Already this
morning then I have discovered a new way of
serving pears, viz., boiled with the skins on.

Heretofore I have both supposed and re-



SERENADE OF THE KATYDIDS. 17

corded 9 it to be a fact that the broad-winged
katydid is most commonly found about the
domiciles of man; i. e., in his orchards and the
shrubbery and shade trees of his yards, "being
seldom if ever heard in extensive wooded
tracts." In this I am mistaken. In a trip
along White River a fortnight ago they were
found to be so numerous in the dense wood's
along the stream as to be almost deafening when
in full chorus near our camps. Last night they
serenaded me by scores from the oaks and
maples here in the open woodland, a third of a
mile and more from any house. Their cymbals
lulled me into early slumber, and were the one
sound heard when about midnight I awakened.
Between two and three o'clock, however, they
were almost silent, a single individual clanging
forth at intervals of a minute or two, then sub-
siding, then breaking forth again.

By six o'clock I am through breakfast,
through washing dishes. Donning an old pair
of rubber boots and taking my gun I start down
the valley of the brook that flows by the base
of the knoll on which my tent is pitched, down
through a lowland thicket, one of the wildest
bits of nature's woodland in the country here-
abouts. Sycamores, willows, cottonwoods, soft
maples, red haws, poison ivy, tall actinomeris



9 Orthoptera of Indiana, 1903, p. 360.
2 B28



18 WOODLAND IDYLS.

and various other forms of vegetation thrive
together in a lowland field never cultivated,
rarely pastured. In the soft mud along the
margins of the pools the tracks of muskrats
and raccoons abound, while along the banks
the monkey flowers, prunella, great bell-flower,
darkey heads and ferns of two kinds unite to
form great masses of green foliage and bright
blossoms. Bumble-bees drone, mosquitoes hum,
killdees utter their regrets and green herons
their coarse scolding cackles as I force my way
through the tangled maze. In one place a water
moccasin squirms his way across the dark w T ater
of a pool and is lost to view in a pile of drift-
wood. In another a great horned owl flaps
noiselessly like a big bat as he retreats before
my advancing form. Soon tiring of the dreary
outlook and lack of game, I find my way out
into the higher, more open woodland out
where the sun's rays occasionally fall, even if
they are fierce and hot this August morn.

Climbing the wooded slope I suddenly hear
a scolding chuckle, at first seemingly some dis-
tance away, then closer, and again right at
hand though I have not moved three paces.
Then a glimpse of a hairy form on the side of
a poplar, a quick aiming of the gun, a detona-
tion, and a fellow mammal has given up its life
that the blood in my veins may be renewed by
the stored protoplasm of its muscle cells.



SQUIRREL SIGNS. 19

Other than by seeing them on the ground or
moving up the boles or through the tops of
trees, there are three ways of detecting the
presence of a fox squirrel on these August days.
These are, by hearing their scolding chatter;
by seeing their tails wafted to and fro by the
breeze as they lie squat and otherwise hidden
on some horizontal limb; by hearing or seeing
small pieces of bark or other substance falling
from some tree. With no hickory or oa*k mast
to store, their lot is apt to be a hard one dur-
ing the coming winter.

At half past eight I am again in the shade
of oak and maple at my boulders' side with the
breeze cooling my perspiring brow, with the
unclouded dome, blue with the infinity of space
above rne, with the red-eyed vireo, the indigo
bunting and the harvest fly alternating in mak-
ing music for my ear. The black ants occasion-
ally tickle my cells of touch and the hawkweed
blossoms by my side, its ray flowers outdazzling
the sunlight with their limpid yellow.

The lamps of the sky which light by night a
myriad of solar systems are now seemingly ex-
tinguished, their brilliancy merged into that of
our King of All, whose beams do fill all visible
space with the glory of their radiance. Were
I, on such a day as this, on a mountain top a
thousand times higher than any on earth, far
ae the eye could reach his rays would glorify.



20 WOODLAND IDYLS.

What common names many of our more
abundant weeds do have prefixed to them.
Iron-, rag-, dog-, hog-, hawk-, horse-, May-, pig-,
are but examples. Of these the iron- and May-
weeds are most handsome. The others men-
tioned, except one, are best known for their
abundance in and about cultivated grounds.
The exception is the hawkweed 10 above noted as
blooming by my side. It flourishes best on
shaded slopes of old pastures where the grass
is thin. A dozen or more nominal and closely
allied kinds there are in this country, each with
a rosette of spoon-shaped hairy leaves close to
the ground. From this springs the slender stem
a foot or two high, usually with distant alter-
nate leaves upon whose shape and degree of
hairiness the species are principally based. At
the top of the stem is a loose panicle or corymb
of flowers in compound heads with yellow rays.
Members of the great Compositae family are
they and common in their chosen habitat. Sel-
dom noted except by the botanist they add their
mite of color to many a pasture during the
August and September days. Just before me
I see a score or more glinting in the sunshine
from above the scattered stems of wire-grass in
the midst of which they delight to flourish.

This wire-grass, 11 growing in abundance along



10 Hieracium scabrum Michx. n Juncus tenuis Willd.



AN INSPIRING WEED. 21

the pathways and on the slopes of old pastures,
is full of elasticity. It is not a true grass but
a rush and, after being trodden upon by man
or beast, its stems when released, spring erect,
apparently unharmed, their loose panicles of
flowers or seeds waving as gracefully in the air
as though they had not just stooped to kiss old
mother earth. It is this property of elasticity,
of upspringing after adversity, which enables
this plant to thrive along the pathways. The
stems of the blue-grass remain down when trod-
den upon but the wire-grass, like truth, once
"crushed to earth, doth rise again." Its spirit
is not broken, its power of growth scarcely re-
tarded, by being often beneath the heel of man.
Being therefore successful where other plants
would perish, it is one of the worthy and in-
spiring members of earth's lowly forms.

Yesterday a crippled bumble-bee was noted
crawling rapidly over the ground in the old
farm yard. Several hens from a distance saw
it moving and immediately ran up thinking a
good mouthful of food was at hand. However,
not one of them would even deign to peck at
the bee, but turning their heads sideways gazed
down at it, a knowing look in their eyes and a
chuckle in their throats. Was it inherited
knowledge or had the mother hen taught them
in some way when they were young that live



22 WOODLAND IDYLS.

bumble-bees have a hot reception for whatever
tackles them a hen's gullet being no exception
for the receipt of such reception.

what atoms we are as we wander on and
on over the surface of this great sphere, think-
ing we control it, when in truth we only live
and sin and agonize and die upon its outer rim !
No one of us, did we live a thousand years and
travel every day, could see in detail a millionth
part of its surface, or become acquainted with
more than an infinitesimal part of the workings
of nature's forces when in action. We think
we live. We only exist. A little matter, dom-
inated and led here and there for a little time
by a little energy, we are but as a drop to the
sea, but as a cubic inch in that infinite space
which stretches on and on beyond our ken.

And two there were whose childhood days
were spent together, free from care and with
ambition's banner pointing to the skies, each
with a great soul longing which never was or
never will be satisfied. And one did wander
far in search of fame, did tread the Afric sands
beneath his feet the Alaskan ice at times with-
in his view. The world was his and opened
here and there her secrets to his gaze. The
other, pent up between four walls, did watch
for years, long years, the sun rise and set and
make his arc across the same area. Ah fate,
which guideth all, which leadeth all how



A CUCKOO'S NEST. 23

strange thy doings how unforeseen thy reckon-


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