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Walking With Muir Across Yosemite

Walking With Muir Across Yosemite
by Thomas R. Vale

 

Steep Trails (The John Muir Library)

Steep Trails 
by John Muir

 

Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Essays

Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth; My First Summer in the Sierra; The Mountains of California; Stickeen; Essays
by John Muir

John Muir  
Selected Quotes

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Various Quotes  by John Muir

To describe America as a hideous wilderness...is to envisage it as another field for the exercise of power. This violent image expresses a need to mobilize energy, postpone immediate pleasures, and rehearse the perils and purposes of the community...

When a page is written over but once it may be easily read but if it be written over and over with characters of every size and style, it soon becomes unreadable, although not a single confused meaningless mark or thought may occur among all the written characters to mar its perfection. Our limited powers are similarly perplexed and overtaxed in reading the inexhaustible pages of nature, for they are written over and over uncountable times, written in characters of every size and color, sentences composed of sentences, every part of a character of a sentence. There is not a fragment in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself. Altogether form the one grand palmissest of the world....the ice-sheet of the glacial period, like an immense sponge, wiped the Sierra bare of all preglacial surface inscriptions, and wrote its own history upon the ample page. We may read the letter-pages of friends when written over and over,   we are intimately acquainted with their hand-writing, and under the same conditions we may read Nature's writings on the stone pages of the mountains. Glacial history upon the summit of the Sierra page is clear, and the farther we descend, the more we find its inscriptions crossed and recrossed with the records of other agents. Dews have dimmed it, torrents have scrawled it here and there, and the earthquake and avalanche have covered and erased many a delicate line. Groves and meadows, forests and fields, darken and confuse its more enduring characters along the bottom, until only the laborious student can decipher even the most emphasized passages of the original manuscript...[From: A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf]

Now we observe that, in cold mountain altitudes, Spirit is but thinly and plainly clothed. As we descend down their many sides to the valleys, the clothing of all plants and beasts and of the forms of rock becomes more abundant and complicated. When a portion of Spirit clothes itself with a sheet of lichen tissue, colored simply red or yellow, or gray or black, we say that is a low form of life. yet is it more or less radically Divine than another portion of Spirit that has gathered garments of leaf and fairy flower and adorned them with all the colors of Light, although we say that the latter creature is of a higher form of life? All of these varied forms, high and low, are simply portions of God, radiated from Him as a sun, and made terrestrial by the clothes they wear, and by the modifications of a corresponding kind in the God essence itself... [From: The Journals]

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life. Some lean back in majestic repose; others, absolutely sheer or nearly so for thousands of feet, advance beyond their companions in thoughtful attitudes, giving welcome to storms and calms alike, seemingly conscious, yet heedless of everything going on about them. Awful in stern, immovable majesty, how softly these mountain rocks are adorned and how fine and reassuring the company they keep....If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb to the top of one of them, and run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jumping from bolder to boulder with even speed. You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of these magnificent rock piles-a fine lesson; and all Nature's wildness tells the same story...

A letter to Mrs. Carr: Squirrelville, Sequoia County, Nut Time

Dear Mrs. Carr; Do behold the King in his glory, King Sequoia. Behold! Behold! seems all I can say. Some time ago I left all for Sequoia: have been & am at his feet fasting & praying for light, for is he not the greatest light in the woods; in the world. Where is such columns of sunshine, tangible, accessible, terrestrialized. Well may I fast, not from bread but from business, bookmaking, duty doing & other trifles, & great is my reward already for the manly treely sacrifice. What giant truths since coming to gigantea, what magnificent clusters of Sequoia becauses. From here I cannot recite you one, for you are down a thousand fathoms deep in dark political quagg, but a burr length less. But I'm in the woods woods woods, & they are in me-ee-ee. The King tree & me have sworn eternal love--sworn it without swearing & I've taken the sacrament with Douglas Squirrel drank Sequoia wine, Sequoia blood, & with its rosy purple virtue of Sequoia juice. Seen with sunbeams in it, its color is the most royal of all purples. No wonder the Indians instinctively drink it for they know not what. I wish I was so drunk & Sequoical that I could preach the green brown woods to all the juiceless world, descending from this divine wilderness like a John Baptist eating Douglas Squirrels & wild honey or wild anything, crying, Repent for the Kingdom of Sequoia is at hand.

There is balm in these leafy Gileads; pungent burrs & living Kingjuice for all defrauded civilization; for sick grangers & politicians, no need of Salt rivers sick or successful. Come Suck Sequoia and be saved. Douglas Squirrel is so pervaded with rosin & burr juice his flesh can scarce be eaten even by mountaineers. No wonder he is so charged with magnetism. One of the little lions ran across my feet the other day as I lay resting under a fir & the effect was a thrill like a battery shock, I would eat him no matter how rosiny for the lightening he holds. I wish I could eat wilder things. Think of the grouse with balsam scented crop stored with spruce buds, the wild sheep full of glacier meadow grass, & daises azure, & the bear burly & brown as Sequoia, eating pine-burrs & wasps stings & all-then think of the soft lighteningless poulice-like pap reeking upon town tables. No wonder cheeks & legs become flabby and fungoid. I wish I were wilder & so bless Sequoia I will be. There is at least a punky spark in my heart & it may blaze in this Autumn gold-fanned by the King. Some of my grandfathers must have been born on a muirland for there is heather in me, & tinctures of bog juices, that send me to Cassiope, & oozing through all my veins impel me unhaltingly through endless glacier meadows seemingly the deeper & danker the better.

See Sequoia aspiring in the upper skies every summit modeled in fine cyclical curves as if pressed into unseen molds. Every bole warm in the mellow amber sun how truly godful in mein. I was talking the other day with a dutchess & was struck with the grand bow with which she bade me goodbye & thanked me for the glaciers I gave her but this forenoon King Sequoia bowed to me down in the grove as I stood gazing & the highbred gestures of the lady seemed rude by contrast.

There goes Squirrel Douglas the master spirit of the tree top. It has just occurred to me how his belly is buffy brown, his back silvergray. Ever since the first Adam of his race saw trees & burrs, his belly has been rubbing upon buff bark, & his back has been combed with silvery needles. Would that some of you wise--terribly wise Social scientists might discover some method of living as true to nature as the buff people of the woods running as free as the winds & waters among the burrs & filbert thickets of these leafy mothery woods.

The sun is set & the star candles are being lighted to show me & Douglas Squirrel to bed therefore my Carr good night. You say, When are You Coming down? Ask the Lord-Lord Sequoia.

Civilization needs pure wildness...the world needs the woods, & is beginning to seek it but it is not yet ready to appreciate the best beauties of the lower Sierras, any more than that of storms. Their closely printed scriptures & still small voices, are not heard or seen. Tourists make their way through the foot-hill landscapes as if blind to all their best beauty....majestic, living temples...the woods are made for the wise and strong. In their very essence they are the counterpart of man...pollution, defilement, squalor are words that never would have been created had man lived conformably to Nature...Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and lawgivers are ever at their wits' end devising. The hall and the theater and the church have been invented, and compulsory education. Why not add compulsory recreation?...Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. Yet few think of pure rest or of the healing power of Nature.

The influences of pure nature seem to be so little known as yet, that it is generally supposed that complete pleasure of this kind, permeating one's very flesh and bones, unfits the student for scientific pursuits in which cool judgment and observation are required. But the effect is just the opposite. Instead of producing a dissipated condition, the mind is fertilized and stimulated and developed like sun-fed plants....When one comes out of the woods everything is novel...even our fellow beings are regarded with something of the same keenness and freshness of perception that is brought to a new species of wild animal.... (From: "The Glacier Meadows of the Sierra")

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness... Once I was very hungry and lonely in Tennessee. I had been walking most of the day in the Cumberland Mountains without coming to a single house, but in crossing a dark-shaded stream whose border trees closed over it like a leafy sky t found the frail Dicksonia that I had looked for so long, and the first magnolia, too, that I had ever seen. I sat down and reveled in the glory of my discoveries. A mysterious breathing wind moved in the trees, and the stream sang cheerily at every ripple. There is no place impressively solitary as a dense forest with a stream passing over a rocky bed at a moderate inclination.

Feelings of isolation soon caught me again among these hushed sounds, but one of the Lord's smallest birds came out to me from some bushes at the side of a moss-clad rock. It had a wonderfully expressive eye, and in one moment that cheerful, confiding bird preached me the most effectual sermon on heavenly trust that I had ever heard through all the measured hours of Sabbath, and I went on half so heartsick, nor had so weary.

One day, when walking along the coral shores of Cuba gathering shells, I found a tiny fragile purple flower with its circlet of petals confidently open to the bright tropic sun. It lived in coral rocks that were washed by the heavy whitecapped waves of every storm from the north. In the northers,' the dream of seamen, wave after wave rolled over batons in weight--sufficient to crush a ship, but the little purple plant, tended by its maker, closed its petals, crouched low in its crevice of a home, and enjoyed the storm in safety.

[June1, 1899, excursion to Alaska] At Victoria early in the morning. Stayed two hours. Saw fine specimens of Sequoia gigantia Cultivated trees in the city park]. Wild roses just coming into largest of wild roses, fragrant like the brier after rain. The sunset opposite Nanaimo glorious. To the east the water was a rose lavender, the sky at the horizon blue, eight or ten degrees above a red purple. In the west gold and purple on horizontal bars of cloud, shading off into lilac. Islands dark purple.

[June 2, 1899] we went ashore near the north end of Vancouver Island. Found magnificent woods-Thuja gigantea, Cupressus nootkatensis, Abies amabilis, Mertensia hemlock, and Pinus monticola, also the devil's-club (Echinopanax horridum), just opening its leaves. The Douglas spruce is abundant. One seven feet in diameter. A fine river at the head of the small bay.

[January 1, 1869, at Smokey Jack's Sheep Camp, Sierra Nevada] The New Year was ushered in with rain, a black day without a single sunbeam. The purple and brown colors are fast fading from the plains, the bright youthful plant green is deepening with astonishing rapidity. Every groove and hollow, however shallow, has its stream--living water is sounding everywhere. Tumbling down, the burn comes down, and roars from bank to brae.' I celebrated the Happy New Year crossing countless streams, running over moor and mire through druge and gide' in full chase of the wretched sheep.

Everything is governed by laws. I used to imagine that our Sabbath days were recognized by Nature, and that, apart from the moods and feelings in which we learn to love, there was a more or less clearly defined correspondence between the laws of Nature and our own. But out here in the free unplanted fields there is no rectilinear sectioning of times and seasons. All things flow here in indivisible, measureless currents.

[January 3] Sky half cloudy. Great warm, soothing, magnificent mist-sheets are upon the mountains this morning, bathing the tree buds and myriads of quickening seeds with a gentleness of gesture and touch that has no word symbol on earth. How indescribable in texture they are, and how finely do they conform to the sloping and waving topography of the hill-bands!

[January 4] Dry Creek, on whose happy bank my cabin stands, is subject to sudden swellings, and overflows in the rainy season. Then it becomes a majestic stream, almost a river, with serious and confident gestures curving about its jutting banks and horseshoe bands, carrying fence and bridge timbers, logs and houses within reach of its ephemeral power. In the course of a few house after the close of a rain, it will retire within its banks, leaving many flat, smooth fresh sheets of sand. I like to watch the first writings upon these fresh new-made leaflets of Nature's own making. One of these pages was made last night and was already written upon when I saw it this morning. It is made from a pulpy mass of ground lavas and slate and old ocean sands, beautifully smoothed and wavily shaded like a high cloud at rest. The first apparent writing was done by a mollusk, the valves of which were about two inches in diameter. I found one belated specimen in his tracks. They set themselves on edge with the valves slightly opened to allow the worm-like motion of their muscle foot. Thus they slide along like a top-heavy ship in handsome and inimitable crossing curves. A great clue crane had also printed this virgin sheet with footprints eight inches in length, and some other smaller birds and beasts had left their mark before I cam to make mine-all easily read at present, but soon writing above writing in countless characters will be inscribed on this beautiful sheet, making it yet more beautiful, but also carrying it far beyond our analysis. There are no unwritten pages in Nature, but everywhere line upon line. In like manner every human heart and mind is written upon as soon as created, and in all lives there are periods of change when by various floods their pages are smoothed like these sand sheets, preparing them for a series of new impressions, and many an agent is at once set in motion printing and picturing. Happy is the man who is so engraved that when he reaches the calm days of reflection he may rejoice in following the forms of both his upper and under lines.

[January 22] Warm and balmy- the most exquisitely refined of all that is lovely in bright hushed springtime. Almost every bundle of plant life has been unrolled and Mother Earth is brooding her beautiful children with loving appreciation of their coming glory. Lark song this evening is Chee, wheel cheedildy ehoodildy.' Perched upon a stone or old post, they will repeat these words to music that is invariable for an hour at a time. Sweet humanic song is this of the holy liar,' but doubtless these are ears to whom the small peepings and happenings of the other little feathered people are equally sweet. John Muir, Unpublished Journals (Sierra Fragment), Merged Canyon, 1870.

The world, we are told, was made especially for man-a presumption not supported by all the facts. [A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf]

Bears are made of the same dust as we, and breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bear's days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart-pulsings like ours....His life not long, not short, knows no beginnings, no ending. To him life unstinted, unplanned, is above the accidents of time, and his years, markless and boundless, equal Eternity.

[January 29] This mongrel, manufactured, misarranged mass of mutton and wool caned a sheep band, which I have tended to, lo, these six weeks with a shepherd's care, are now rapidly being increased in number by little thick-legged, wrinkled duplicates-unhappy lambs born to wretchedness and unmitigated degradation.

[October 15, 1867 excursion to Florida] Today, at last, I reached Florida, the so-called Land of Flowers,' that I had so long waited for, wondering if after all my longings and prayers would be in vain, and I should die without a glimpse of the flowery Canaan. But here it is, at the distance of a few years!--a flat, watery, reedy coast, with clumps of mangrove and forests of moss-dressed, strange trees appearing low in the distance.

The steamer finds her way among the reedy islands like a duck, and I step on a rickety wharf. A few steps more take me to a rickety town, Fernandina. I discover a baker, buy some bread, and without asking a single question, make for the shady, gloomy groves. John Muir, Unpublished Journals (Sierra Fragment), Merced Canyon, 1870.

I could only see the one sublime mountain, the one glacier, the one lake...moved on across the glacier as if driven- by fate, conscious of a vague foreboding....After gaining a point about half-way to the top, I was suddenly brought to a dead stop, with arms outspread, clinging close to the face of the rock, unable to move hand or foot either up or down. My doom appeared fixed. I must fall. When this final danger flashed upon me, I became never-shaken for the firs time since setting foot on the mountains, and my mind seemed to fill with a stifling smoke. But this terrible eclipse lasted only a moment, when life blazed forth again preternatural clearness. I seemed suddenly to become possessed of a new sense. The other self, bygone experience, Instinct, or Guardian Angel, call it what you will, came forward and assumed control. Then my trembling muscles became firm again, every rift and flaw in the rock was seen as through a microscope, and my limbs moved with a positiveness and precision with which I seemed to have nothing at all to do. Had I been borne aloft upon wings, my deliverance could not have been more complete....l found a way without effort, and soon stood upon the topmost crag in the blessed light. [The Mountains of California]

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life. Some lean back in majestic repose; others, absolutely sheer or nearly so for thousands of feet, advance beyond their companions in thoughtful attitudes, giving welcome to. storms and calms alike, seemingly conscious, yet heedless of everything going on about them. Awful in stern, immovable majesty, how softly these mountain rocks are adorned and how fine and reassuring the company they keep. [The Yosemite]

...these temple destroyers, devotees of ravenging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the mountains, lift them to dams and town skyscrapers....[nature is being attacked] mostly by despoiling gain-seekers--mischief-makers and robbers of every degree from Satan to senators, supervisors, lumbermen, cattlemen, farmers, etc., eagerly trying to make everything dollerable, often thinly disguised in smiling philanthropy, calling pocket-filling plunder Utilization of beneficent natural resources,' that man and beast may be fed and the dear Nation grow great...the commercial invasion of Yosemite Park means that sooner or later under various specious beguiling pleas, all the public parks and playgrounds throughout our country may be invaded and spoiled...

Contemplating the lace-like fabric of streams outspread over the mountains, we are reminded that everything is flowingly going somewhere, animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water....Rocks flow from volcanoes like water from springs, and animals flock together and flow in currents modified by stepping, leaping, gliding, flying, swimming, etc. While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood globules in Nature's warm heart. [My First Summer in the Sierra]

How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies! how blind to the rights of all the rest of creation! With what dismal irreverence we speak of our fellow mortals! Though alligators, snakes, etc., naturally repel us, that are not mysterious evils. They dwell happily in these flowery wilds, are part of God's family, unfallen, undepraved, and cared for with the same species of tenderness and love that is bestowed on angels in heaven or saints on earth. [A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf]

One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature--inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last....Presently you loose consciousness of your own separate existence: you blend with the landscape, and become part and parcel of nature. [My First Summer in the Sierra]

Now, it never seems to occur to these farseeing teachers that Nature's object in making animals and plants might possibly be first of all the happiness of each one of them, not the creation of all for the happiness of one. why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation? And what creature of all that the Lord has taken the pains to make is not essential to the completeness of that unit--the cosmos? The universe would be incomplete without man; but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge. [A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf]

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
-- My First Summer in the Sierra , 1911, page 110.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

None of Nature's landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild.

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found.

There is not a "fragment" in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself.

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world x the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.

Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty.

Range of Light:
Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city.... Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.

So extraordinary is Nature with her choicest treasures, spending plant beauty as she spends sunshine, pouring it forth into land and sea, garden and desert. And so the beauty of lilies falls on angels and men, bears and squirrels, wolves and sheep, birds and bees....

Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes - all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.

Everything is flowing -- going somewhere, animals and so- called lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow flows fast or slow in grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches; the air in majestic floods carrying minerals, plant leaves, seeds, spores, with streams of music and fragrance; water streams carrying rocks... While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood...in Nature's warm heart.

Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.

By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs - now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in the fullness of time an outburst of organic life....

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

Most people are on the world, not in it. - have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them - undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.

I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in "creation's dawn." The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day.

There is a love of wild nature in everybody an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.

It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!

If my soul could get away from this so-called prison, be granted all the list of attributes generally bestowed on spirits, my first ramble on spirit-wings would not be among the volcanoes of the moon. Nor should I follow the sunbeams to their sources in the sun. I should hover about the beauty of our own good star. I should not go moping among the tombs, not around the artificial desolation of men. I should study Nature's laws in all their crossings and unions; I should follow magnetic streams to their source and follow the shores of our magnetic oceans. I should go among the rays of the aurora, and follow them to their beginnings, and study their dealings and communions with other powers and expressions of matter. And I should go to the very center of our globe and read the whole splendid page from the beginning. But my first journeys would be into the inner substance of flowers, and among the folds and mazes of Yosemite's falls. How grand to move about in the very tissue of falling columns, and in the very birthplace of their heavenly harmonies, looking outward as from windows of ever-varying transparency and staining!

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and law-givers are ever at their wit's end devising. The hall and the theater and the church have been invented, and compulsory education. Why not add compulsory recreation? Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. Yet few think of pure rest or of the healing power of Nature.

One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature -- inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.

Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds or the music of water written in river-lines?

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.

The battle we have fought, and are still fighting...is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong, and we cannot expect to see the end of it.

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

All Nature's wildness tells the same story: the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring , thundering waves and floods, the silent uproot of sap in plants, storms of every sort, each and all, are the orderly, beauty-making love-beats of Nature's heart.

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

One touch of nature...makes all the world kin.

As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.

These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.

How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind! The spiritual eye sees not only rivers of water but of air. It sees the crystals of the rock in rapid sympathetic motion, giving enthusiastic obedience to the sun's rays, then sinking back to rest in the night. The whole world is in motion to the center. So also sounds. We hear only woodpeckers and squirrels and the rush of turbulent streams. But imagination gives us the sweet music of tiniest insect wings, enables us to hear, all around the world, the vibration of every needle, the waving of every bole and branch, the sound of stars in circulation like particles in the blood. The Sierra canyons are full of avalanche debris - we hear them boom again, and we read the past sounds from present conditions. Again we hear the earthquake rock-falls. Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarse senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.

Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be- still kind. Your animal fellow-beings, so seldom regarded in civilization, and every rock-brow and mountain, stream, and lake, and every plant soon come to be regarded as brothers; even one learns to like the storms and clouds and tireless winds. This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment. It is good for everybody, no matter how benumbed with care, encrusted with a mail of business habits like a tree with bark. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.

Government protection should be thrown around every wild grove and forest on the mountains, as it is around every private orchard, and the trees in public parks. To say nothing of their value as fountains of timber, they are worth infinitely more than all the gardens and parks of towns.

Winds are advertisements of all they touch, however much or little we may be able to read them; telling their wanderings ever by their accents alone.

My fire was in all its glory about midnight, and, having made a bark shed to shelter me from the rain and partially dry my clothing, I had nothing to do but look and listen and join the trees in their hymns and prayers.

One day's exposure to mountains is better than carloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers' plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.

The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains - mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature's workshops.

Going to the mountains is going home.

 

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