On this fifty-third day of travel I reached the Sea. While I was yet many miles back in the forest I could smell the salt sea breeze, which had not touched me for nineteen years, but how vividly nevertheless did the ocean wind conjure up Dunbar, its rocky coast, its winds and waves. My whole childhood, which appeared to die in presence of the new life in the new world, was restored to-day amid the vines and sunless forests of Florida by that one salt breath from the sea. Forgotten were the palm and magnolias and the thousand flowers that enclosed me. I could only see dulse and tangle and long winged gulls and the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, and the old Castle, schools, churches, and long country rambles in search for birds’ nests. I do not wonder that the weary camels coming from the scorching African deserts should scent the Nile. How imperishable are all the impressions that ever vibrate one’s life. We cannot forget anything. Memories may escape the action of will - they may die a kind of sleep, but when the right influence does but touch them lightly as a shadow they flash into full stature and life with everything in place. For nineteen years my vision was bounded by forests, but to-day emerging from an ocean of tropic plants I beheld the open level of the great Gulf waters stretching away unbounded except by the sky. What dreams and speculative matter for thoughts arose as I stood on the strand gazing on the great burnished treeless level. How I longed to go out ramblingly over the water plain to the tropic isles, each blooming as a single flower ever fresh and youthful in the grand goblet of the Gulf.
Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist