Friday, May 11, 2007
Today I went with my son's class to the John Muir house in Martinez, Ca. In case you don't know, John Muir was one of the greatest conservationists of the United States. He was the driving influence behind the establishment of our National Parks.
As part of our tour today, we watched a short movie about his life. I was struck by one comment that was made by the narrator. She said that John Muir lived in a time when influential thinkers were held in higher esteem than other public figures. How sad for me to think that we now live in a time when actors seem to be held in higher esteem than great thinkers, and are often equated with great thinkers, even though they may, in truth, be small minded.
John Muir died at age 76 from pneumonia, but I suspect he had already lost his will to live. In some of his writings he had told about the spectacular valley of Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite. He wrote that it was the greatest mountain temple on the earth. But politicians voted to dam up the valley so that they could divert the water for public use. The "temple mountain" that John Muir wrote so glowingly about, is now under water.
I realized as we studied about John Muir today that I have never read any of his books. One in particular I am very interested in checking out from the library. It is about a journey of a thousand miles that he made on foot in the Eastern United States. He wrote several other books as well that I am very interested to read. One of the books he wrote was a children's book.
He was the father of two girls, and every night at dinner time, in order to encourage his daughters to come to dinner on time, he would tell them a story. But this story was more of an on going story, that never ended at one meal. If the girls wanted to hear what happened next in the story, they had to be to dinner on time. When John Muir was traveling in Alaska, a man gave him a dog. This dog was his traveling companion while he was in Alaska. The stories he told his girls were about adventures he had with this dog. When John Muir prepared to leave Alaska, he couldn't find his dog. He noticed that all of the children in the village were also missing. He surmised that they had taken the dog because they had grown attached and didn't want him to take it to California. The dog remained behind to live with the children there, but you can read stories about this dog in a book of the stories he told his daughters.
I was struck by a quote that I read at his house today. I live in such a day of ease, and instead of having to pull out a paper and pen, I snapped a digital photo of the quote that was posted. This gives a slight glimpse of the kind of writing John Muir did. I'm very anxious to read more of what he wrote.