If you are someone who feels that way as well, this book will enhance your spiritual practice. Jul 09, Abigail rated it really liked it This was a lovely little collection of meditations on nature, though at times Muir tends to over-romanticize or, for lack of a better term, hyper-worship nature. Oct 21, Meghan Jennings rated it really liked it Beautiful to read and to flip through. Great language and really puts you in his shoes. Thoughtful but not heavy.
Early life Boyhood in Scotland Muir was born in the small house at left. His father bought the adjacent building in , and made it the family home. His parents were Daniel Muir and Ann Gilrye. His earliest recollections were of taking short walks with his grandfather when he was three.
It was during this time that he became interested in natural history and the works of Scottish naturalist Alexander Wilson. Although he spent the majority of his life in America, Muir never forgot his roots in Scotland. He held a strong connection with his birthplace and Scottish identity throughout his life and was frequently heard talking about his childhood spent amid the East Lothian countryside.
He greatly admired the works of Thomas Carlyle and poetry of Robert Burns ; he was known to carry a collection of poems by Burns during his travels through the American wilderness. He returned to Scotland on a trip in , where he met one of his Dunbar schoolmates and visited the places of his youth that were etched in his memory.
It has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
He wrote, "I never tried to abandon creeds or code of civilization; they went away of their own accord There, under a towering black locust tree beside North Hall , Muir took his first botany lesson. A fellow student plucked a flower from the tree and used it to explain how the grand locust is a member of the pea family, related to the straggling pea plant.
Fifty years later, the naturalist Muir described the day in his autobiography. Records showed his class status as "irregular gent" and, even though he never graduated, he learned enough geology and botany to inform his later wanderings.
Civil War. Muir left school and travelled to the same region in , and spent the spring, summer, and fall exploring the woods and swamps, and collecting plants around the southern reaches of Lake Huron 's Georgian Bay.
With his money running low and winter coming, he reunited with his brother Daniel near Meaford, Ontario , who persuaded him to work with him at the sawmill and rake factory of William Trout and Charles Jay. The file slipped and cut the cornea in his right eye and then his left eye sympathetically failed.
When he did, "he saw the world—and his purpose—in a new light". Muir later wrote, "This affliction has driven me to the sweet fields. God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.
He had no specific route chosen, except to go by the "wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I could find. However, three days after accepting the job at Hodgson's, Muir almost died of a malarial sickness.
One evening in early January , Muir climbed onto the Hodgson house roof to watch the sunset. He saw a ship, the Island Belle, and learned it would soon be sailing for Cuba. Seeing it for the first time, Muir notes that "He was overwhelmed by the landscape, scrambling down steep cliff faces to get a closer look at the waterfalls, whooping and howling at the vistas, jumping tirelessly from flower to flower.
Muir built a small cabin along Yosemite Creek ,  designing it so that a section of the stream flowed through a corner of the room so he could enjoy the sound of running water.
He lived in the cabin for two years  and wrote about this period in his book First Summer in the Sierra Muir's biographer, Frederick Turner, notes Muir's journal entry upon first visiting the valley and writes that his description "blazes from the page with the authentic force of a conversion experience.
He did marry in to Louisa Strentzel. He went into business for 10 years with his father-in-law managing the orchards on the family acre farm in Martinez, California. He was sustained by the natural environment and by reading the essays of naturalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson , who wrote about the very life that Muir was then living.
On excursions into the back country of Yosemite, he traveled alone, carrying "only a tin cup, a handful of tea, a loaf of bread, and a copy of Emerson. As the years passed, he became a "fixture in the valley," respected for his knowledge of natural history, his skill as a guide, and his vivid storytelling.
Muir maintained a close friendship for 38 years with William Keith , a California landscape painter. They were both born the same year in Scotland and shared a love for the mountains of California.
The two men met, and according to Tallmadge, "Emerson was delighted to find at the end of his career the prophet-naturalist he had called for so long ago And for Muir, Emerson's visit came like a laying on of hands. Muir later wrote, "I never for a moment thought of giving up God's big show for a mere profship!
Muir soon became convinced that glaciers had sculpted many of the features of the Yosemite Valley and surrounding area. This notion was in stark contradiction to the accepted contemporary theory, promulgated by Josiah Whitney head of the California Geological Survey , which attributed the formation of the valley to a catastrophic earthquake.
As Muir's ideas spread, Whitney tried to discredit Muir by branding him as an amateur. But Louis Agassiz , the premier geologist of the day, saw merit in Muir's ideas and lauded him as "the first man I have ever found who has any adequate conception of glacial action.
The quake woke Muir in the early morning, and he ran out of his cabin "both glad and frightened," exclaiming, "A noble earthquake!
Muir had no such fear and promptly made a moonlit survey of new talus piles created by earthquake-triggered rockslides. Botanical studies In addition to his geologic studies, Muir also investigated the plant life of the Yosemite area.
In and , he made field studies along the western flank of the Sierra on the distribution and ecology of isolated groves of Giant Sequoia.
In , the American Association for the Advancement of Science published Muir's paper on the subject. Muir Glacier was later named after him. He traveled into British Columbia a third of the way up the Stikine River , likening its Grand Canyon to "a Yosemite that was a hundred miles long".
He documented this experience in journal entries and newspaper articles—later compiled and edited into his book The Cruise of the Corwin. He envisioned the Yosemite area and the Sierra as pristine lands. In June , the influential associate editor of The Century magazine, Robert Underwood Johnson , camped with Muir in Tuolumne Meadows and saw firsthand the damage a large flock of sheep had done to the grassland.
Johnson agreed to publish any article Muir wrote on the subject of excluding livestock from the Sierra high country.
He also agreed to use his influence to introduce a bill to Congress to make the Yosemite area into a national park, modeled after Yellowstone National Park. On September 30, , the U. Congress passed a bill that essentially followed recommendations that Muir had suggested in two Century articles, "The Treasures of the Yosemite" and "Features of the Proposed National Park", both published in