Many people know that April 21st is Earth Day, which is a worldwide celebration to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Those who love the planet in 192 countries around the world plant trees, increase recycling efforts, advocate for environmental issues, and raise funds for environmental awareness. But did you know that April 21st is also the anniversary of the birth of the famed conversationalist John Muir.
John Muir was born on April 21st, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland. He wrote many books and essays talking about his adventures in nature, and was the founder of The Sierra Club, which is one of the most famed conservation organizations in the United States. Through his activism, he helped preservation of Sequoia National Park, the Yosemite valley, and surrounding areas in Northern California.
In his biography, it states that his “love affair” with nature began when he was young. His family relocated from Scotland to Wisconsin when he was 11 years old. He took his first botany class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at age 22, and this lesson “charmed me and sent me flying to the woods and meadows in wild enthusiasm.” After he left college, he went to Canada to avoid the draft. Upon his return to the states, he got into an industrial accident which made him temporarily lose his sense of sight. After 6 weeks of being confined to a dark room, he regained his sense of sight and “saw the world – his purpose – in a new light.”
In 1868, he took a week-long trip to Yosemite, where he was “overwhelmed with 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.” He built a cabin on Yosemite Creek, penned his first book, and “became a fixture in the valley.” Muir became a preservationist in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas. He introduced the bill to Congress that made Yosemite a National Park. The Sierra Club has helped establish several natural parks in his lifetime, has grown since his death, and now has over 1.3 million members.
Muir believed that all life was sacred, and wild nature was to be above human culture and civilization. He had a beautiful perspective of the inspiration that comes from spending time in nature. In honor of his birthday, we have created some quotes of some of his most famous sayings.
“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”
“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.”
“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books”