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Mondays with Muir: Meet John of the Mountains

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In the spring of 2016, during our first family visit to Yosemite National Park, I was introduced to naturalist and environmental philosopher John Muir (1838-1914).

Standing in Tuolomne Grove among ancient and majestic Sequoias, I saw his face and read both his name and his words on an informational sign we came across. And I felt in that moment: I must know this man better.

One touch of nature...makes all the world kin. - John Muir
Muir quote from Tuolomne Grove sign

Not long after this experience, I came across a book of his in a used bookstore and couldn’t resist. It was called Travels in Alaska, and it was glorious. It detailed his exploratory adventures in southeast Alaska in the late nineteenth century and the deep impressions that this land left on him.

If I had been hooked on him before, I was now a rabid fan who simply couldn’t get enough. (If you want a single volume containing many of his writings, consider this collection. This one is going on my wish list for sure.)

Mondays with Muir: Meet John of the Mountains

In the years since our introduction I have come back to “John of the mountains”, as he was sometimes called, many times. And over and over and over again I have found renewed clarity, guidance, inspiration and perspective. The national parks that he struggled to create, the wild places that he strove to protect, shaped me during our extensive RV travels in a way that I cannot yet fully comprehend.

Simply put, I owe him a great debt and still have much to learn from him.

My most recent addition to the “Muir Library”, Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple, has been an absolute treasure. It was this book, which I purchased during our second trip to Yosemite in 2017 but recently picked up again, that convinced me to start writing about Muir regularly here on the site.

As a part of repaying my debt to him, it’s only fitting that I introduce him to as many other people as possible and inspire them to help protect the wild places as he lived to do.

And so, Mondays with Muir is born.

 

I hope to use this book of short meditations, bite-sized Muir quotes, to help you start to understand the heart of this great pioneer with short posts on Mondays. His was a heart beating for the natural world, and he was convinced to his core that the separation of humanity, in body and spirit, from the natural world was inviting unspeakable harm to both.

Each day, I become more convinced of the same.

And how much more separated are we now as a species than when Muir’s concern arose more than 100 years ago? It’s impossible to fathom, but we can feel the truth of that distance in our bones. Closing that distance is a large part of what pulls me forward and inspires me to write about escaping into nature through RV travels.

Let’s start with a quote

This introduction to Muir will be very short, probably shorter than anything else I have written on this site. But I’ll have plenty to say in upcoming posts.

I can think of a dozen Muir quotes that I could choose from to finish off this introduction, but there is one which sums up his very purpose on our planet better than any other.

I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness.

I hope you are looking forward to regular doses of John Muir, his insight and his spirit, as much as I am.

But if I’m just writing for myself? It will still be worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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