Happy Birthday, John

Here it is April 21st, John Muir’s birthday, and here is a quote from Muir’s notebooks about another great Scot’s birthday, Robert Burns. Like nearly all Scots, Muir was a huge admirer of Burns, and on his birthday in l906, wrote a long appreciation of him. Here’s the part I want to highlight, from the great "John of the Mountains," his unpublished journals, put out by biography Linnie Wolfe in l938:

The man of science, the naturalist, too often loses sight of the essential oneness of all living beings in seeking to classify them in kingdoms, orders, families, genera, species, etc., taking note of the kind and arrangement of limbs, teeth, toes, scales, hair, feathers, etc., measured and set forth in meters, centimenters, and millimeters, while the eye of the Poet, the Seer, never closes on the kindship of all God’s creatures, and his heart ever beats in sympathy with great and small alike as "earth-born companions and fellow mortals" equally dependent on Heaven’s eternal love.

And that’s the glory of Muir, who despite his remarkable scientific achievements, never lost sight of the "wee, helpless things," including the field mouse; the sheep, the cattle, the wounded hare, the "unfortunate daisy." The vastness of his love became the vastness of the landscape he loved, as in this picture of the Muir Pass from Yodod, looking back towards Lake MacDermand. Still miss you, Johnny.


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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