John Muir


[Jeanne C.] Carr


image preview


kind At first I thought of mice but soon saw they were too light & delicate for mice. Then a tiny lizard darted into the stubble a head of me & I carefully examined the track he made, but it was entirely unlike the fine print embroidery I was studying. However I knew that he might make very different tracks if walking leisurely therefore I determined to cutch one & experiment. I found out in Florida that lizards however swift are short winded so I gave chase & soon captured a tiny gray fellow & carried him to a smooth sand bed where he could embroider without getting away into grass tufts or holes. He was so wearied that he couldn’t skim & was compelled to walk & I was excited with delight in seeing an exquisitely beautiful strip of em= =broidery about 5/8 of an inch wide drawn out in flowing curves behind him as from a loam. The riddle was solved I knew that mountain bowlders moved in music so also do lizards & their written music printed by their feet moved so swiftly as to be invisiblecovers the hot sands with beauty wherever they go. But my sand embroidery lesson was by no means done. I speedily discovered a yet more delicate pattern on the sands woven into that of the lizards. I examined the strange combination of bars & dots – no five toed lizard had printed that music I watched narrowly down on my knees following the strange & beautiful pattern along the wheel furrows & out into the stubble Occasionally the pattern would suddenly end in a shallow pit half an inch across & an eighth of an inch deep I was fairly puzzled, picked up my bundle & trudged discontentedly away but my eyes were hungrily awake & I watched all the ground. At length a gray grasshopper rattled & flew up & the truth flashed upon me that he was the complementary embroiderer of the lizard. Then followed long careful observation. but I never could see the grasshopper until he jumped, & after he


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

[1874 Sep]


Original letter dimensions: 25 x 40 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 03, Image 0187

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date


Page Number

Page 5


John Muir, correspondence, letters, author, writing, naturalist, California, correspondent, mail, message, post, exchange of letters, missive, notes, epistle