Tuesday, May 13, 2014

John Muir - my perspective

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...” 
― John Muir

He said:
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.

- The Yosemite (1912)
I have just been into the wild places ,I have travelled through the forests, crossed the seas , seen 
the lochs and the glens , and sat facing the Atlantic Ocean in the windy rain, with my back to shelter and my front covered. I have smelled the seaweed, heard the Oystercatchers and Corncrakes and watched the breakers for hours with no one else in sight , though my companion husband beside me, so not alone. Reading John Muirs writings of the wilderness, he was mostly alone, sometimes with nothing but bread and stick. I've seen Ray Mears (on TV)in the wilderness too, and have a lot of respect for wild campers and those learning and honing survival skills . 
John Muir and his fellow stargazers and foodplanthunters all chose to seek the wilderness-thats the first BUT.

Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.
John Muir

Take your smartphone with you and you might never need to follow a map. The Rescue services are constantly warning those going off for a wild adventure to tell where you are going, use or at least take a map , wear bright clothing etc. Harm can befall you. Second BUT .

In drying plants, botanists often dry themselves. Dry words and dry facts will not fire hearts.” 
― John Muir

I agree with you here John Muir. BUT On my plantlife Course I have to compare plants and investigate flower structures with a hand lens. Comparing the Scurvy Grasses has been difficult. I still cannot say that the one I found on Iona is the Danish one Cochlearia danica or the Sea one , and nothing compares with the living specimens except as to suffice for taxonomic classification. I have to wait until Im home to follow the Flora through .That itself could be seen as a fruitless investigation  . Yet whilst the Scurvy grass used to be salted down to stave off Scurvy on long voyages , nowadays botanists are being employed big time, as always in the pharmaceutical trade to find drugs to cure diseases, no longer Alchemy and Herbalism. So it does matter that classification is exact. 
Did John Muir ever have a headache and chew on willow as the native americans did?

So John Muir. I enjoyed visiting your birthplace in Dunbar, and finding out all about you, the father of the National Parks of USA. A famous Scot now that you've been recognised properly in  Scotland.

I'm back in the land time forgot now OKA Filey North Yorkshire. We got back from the wild places last night. I went straight off to the allotment as decency allowed to take stock and see if my seeds were up , to pick some Chard and to sit awhile. It is not a wild place, but has a remoteness about it . Even when Eddie and John and Mr  H and Bob are digging on adjacent plots we can keep to oneselves. The otherness comes from the sounds of birds and thats all. Sure, the train goes past every 2 hours, and mowers and strimmers sometimes resonate across the plots , nevertheless I can be occupied enjoying watching the Horsetails grow and wishing they were Asparagus  for hours on end in my very own wilderness. 


  1. There is something deep within me that wants to be sat quietly on top of a fell or just "Be " sat on a rock lulled by the sound of the sea and the birds . Empty beaches of Northumbria beckons .

  2. Do go to Dunbar sometime-its a lovely little town. However great it is alone in the big outdoors its lovely to be warm and dry and fed .Dont think Im up for rough camping .