Monday, August 18, 2014

Life to Come

"The warm, brooding days are full of life and thoughts of life to come, ripening seeds with next summer in them or a hundred summers."  John Muir, "The Wild Gardens of the Yosemite Park," Atlantic Monthly, August 1900.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Joyous Hurrah!

DSCN6183Travelling alone during a recent trip, instead of a motel room, I slept next to the French Broad River in a campground a little north of Asheville, North Carolina. Before retiring to my tent that night, I sat in the dark on a rock at water's edge for quite some time. Captivated by the music of the rushing river, my need to rise early the next morning is all that pushed me into the tent. I think I would have sat there for hours otherwise. The water brought to mind a newly noticed quote from John Muir, which I was able to look up by flashlight and enjoy again. I was glad I had brought my book, and—thanks to Muir's suggestion—I drifted off to sleep in the cool night air filled with singing.

"Here is a cascade two hundred feet wide, half a mile long, glancing this way and that, filled with bounce and dance and joyous hurrah, yet honest as a tempest, and singing like angels loose on a frolic from heaven." — John Muir, Letter to Mrs. Carr, October 8, 1872.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Storms of Creation

"Storms of every sort, torrents, earthquakes, cataclysms, 'convulsions of nature,' etc., however mysterious and lawless at first sight they may seem, are only harmonious notes in the song of creation, varied expressions of God's love."— John Muir, Our National Parks

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ancient Dreams

Last Friday evening, although I was worn out from a week too long, I went for a woodland wander after dinner. I sauntered slowly, contemplatively, with no particular destination other than just to be present in the forest.

Walking yet not fully awake, in a sort of twilight of wakefulness, I walked among the trees and wonderied their age. This led my thinking to the people who might have walked this same ridge seven generations ago. Maybe a Shawnee or Cherokee man occasionally walked these same ridges, stopping as I do to breathe deep the forest air and feel the comfort that comes with being among big trees. Did he feel what I feel? Did he ever stand sleepy in this same spot? Did he find the old beeches and towering poplars calming? Did the giant sycamores evoke a sense of mystery and holiness? Did he too love the song of the wood thrush?

For a moment I closed my eyes,
breathed deeply as if to inhale ancient breezes
and stood in the moment,
half in a dream,
past and present.

Walking home I felt as though I had walked ancient paths,
and I vowed to return
here in the twilight.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wild Sleep

This evening I fell asleep sitting in Beth's Adirondack chair beneath the walnut tree. I only slept for about 30 minutes, but waking there was pure serendipity. I had been basking in the warm August night, thinking of nothing but the subtle qualities of twilight combined with insect song. When I awoke I was delighted to discover I had been covered in a blanket of darkness and katydid song. I awoke refreshed as if I had slept the whole night. There was none of the grogginess that normally accompanies a too brief, ill-timed nap, and I awoke instead feeling completely alert and fully alive. Perhaps I should try napping outdoors more often.
Beth's chair in the daylight

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


The more I talk with people about nature, the more I realize we are profoundly disconnected. This is unnatural in every sense of the word, and I fear it may prove tragic. Of course, the really problem will start long before total calamity strikes. As I see it, the question of whether we unintentionally destroy ourselves and the planet is besides the point, a mere abstraction. When we are disconnected from wild nature, we are divorced from our true home and already less. If we are divorced from nature already, we should not be surprised to find ourselves struggling to live in a self-created world, and any talk of saving the planet or environmental responsibility becomes just a bunch of empty words. Disconnected we are less.

                                                                          (Photo by Mike DuBose)