FERTILE AND STERILE FRONDS LEAF-LIKE AND SIMILAR;
bleaches almost white. Then its slender fronds seem like beautiful wraiths of their former selves.
The Dicksonia, as he always calls it, is Thoreau's favorite among the ferns. Its fronds are sweet-scented when crushed or in drying, and to their fragrance he was peculiarly sensitive:
"Going along this old Carlisle road . . . road where all wild things and fruits abound, where there are countless rocks to jar those who venture in wagons; road which leads to and through a great but not famous garden, zoölogical and botanical, at whose gate you never arrive—as I was going along there, I perceived the grateful scent of the Dicksonia fern now partly decayed. It reminds me of all up country, with its springy mountain-sides and unexhausted vigor. Is there any essence of Dicksonia fern, I wonder? Surely that giant, who my neighbor expects is to bound up the Alleghenies, will have his handkerchief scented with that. The sweet fragrance of decay! When I wade through by narrow cow-paths, it is as if I had strayed into an ancient and decayed herb garden. Nature perfumes her garments with this essence now especially. She gives it to those who go a-barberrying and on dark autumnal walks. The very scent of it, if you have a decayed frond in your chamber, will take you far up country in a twinkling. You would think you had gone after the cows there, or were lost on the mountains."
"Why can we not oftener refresh one another