As I think about John Muir and try to decide what to write, I am looking out into the forest that is my backyard. At one point we actually considered clearing the trees to make a larger, more usable yard. But now I realize that would have been a mistake and I love the wildness of the forest. So how is this connected to Muir?
Preservation of the wild
Muir was a writer, naturalist and conservationist. He is considered to be the Father of the National Parks because his writings were instrumental to the creation of Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. He understood the need to preserve the wild. And as I look out into my forest, I know that it brings me much more peace than a cleared back yard ever would. The photo below shows my forest. While the photo doesn’t do it justice, it gives you an idea of what I’m seeing right now. As a side note, the squirrels were not happy that I was out there and they were throwing acorns at me!
So back to Muir – He was born in Scotland and immigrated to US when he was 11 years old. He was employed in a factory until he was nearly blinded in an accident. This accident created a drive in Muir to learn about the world unaltered by man. After spending a bit of time at the University of Wisconsin, he left to pursue what he called the “University of Wilderness”. His first visit to Yosemite was in 1968. During this trip he wrote these words in a letter to a friend:
“Fate and flowers have carried me to California, and I have reveled and luxuriated amid its plants and mountains nearly four months. I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains, and, were it not for a thought now and then of loneliness and isolation, the pleasure of my existence would be complete.”
I love the sentiment here. John Muir recognized the positive impact that nature had on him. To learn more about our need for nature, check out my previous blog post. Muir also understood the desperate need to protect our wilderness. Next time you visit a national park or other wild space, keep Muir in mind, as we owe much of our preserved lands to him!
I’ll close with another one of Muir’s quotes that I love –
“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness.”