John Muir



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William and Maymie Kimes Annotation

"The coniferous forests of the Yosemite Park, and of the Sierra in general, surpass all others of their kind in America, or indeed in the world, not only in the size and beauty of the trees, but in number of species assembled together, and the grandeur of the mountains they are growing on." Muir comments that when traveling to Yosemite you get "grand views over the forests ... without leaving your seat in the stage. But to learn how they live and behave in pure wilderness, to see them in their varying aspects through the seasons ... you must love them and live with them, as free from schemes and cares and time as the trees themselves." Muir's descriptions of the various species reveal that he had done just that-lived with them intimately over the years, studying their habits and savoring their beauty in all seasons. Muir concludes his long essay with the story of his meeting Emerson in Yosemite Valley. Muir relates how he proposed to camp out with Emerson in the sequoias, but Emerson's companions would not allow it. Muir accompanied the party to the Mariposa Grove, where he again urged Emerson to stay, saying, "'You are yourself a sequoia .... Stop and get acquainted with your big brethren.' But he was past his prime, and was now as a child in the hands of his affectionate but sadly civilized friends .... It was the afternoon of the day and the afternoon of his life, and his course was now westward down all the mountains into the sunset." As Emerson vanished, Muir turned and wandered back into the woods. He writes: "And though lonesome for the first time in these forests, I quickly took heart again,-the trees had not gone to Boston, nor the birds; and as I sat by the fire, Emerson was still with me in spirit, though I never saw him again in the flesh."


The Atlantic Monthly, v. 85, no. 510


pp. 493-507

The Forests of the Yosemite Park.



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