John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



[between the naked, lower portion of the stalks as they do when pushing through chaparral of the taller straight stemmed kinds.] I sat [down] a long time beneath the tallest field [sic] I could find and never enjoyed [found] anything in the way of a [natural] bower of wild leaves more strangely impressive

Only spread a fern frond over a mans head and the world with its cares are cast out and freedom and beauty and peace com in [in]. The waving of a pine tree on the top of a mountain, [conventional, mechanic cares are at once shut out. The waving of] a magic wand in Nature's [own] hand, [the] [swaying pines on the mountain tops,] Every devout mountaineer knows its [the] power [of these] but the [profound spiritual efficacy of] marvelous beauty-value of what the Scotch call a breckan [grove, down] in a still dell, what poet has sung this [that]?

It would seem impossible that anybody however [stiffly] incrusted with carnal cares could escape the

Godful influence [novel beauty] of these sacred fern forests [nooks]. Yet, this very day I saw [our] a shepherd flounder [wade] through one of the finest of them [these] [breckan gardens] without betraying more feeling than his [the] sheep [did]. What do you think of these grand ferns, I asked. Oh, they’re [They were] [are] only d-d big brakes he said.


Lizards [are here] of every temper style & color, dwell here, seemingly as happy as [the] birds and squirrels. A few of them snaky looking [some snaky & repulsive in look & motion] but most [of them] are [extremely] handsome & companionable [attractive] & I like to watch them at their


work and play. They bear acquaintance well & one likes them [all] the better the longer one looks [more he sees] into their beautiful innocent eyes [characters & pursuits]. Small, lowly, gentle fellow mortals, enjoying God’s sunshine [harmless & lowly,] and doing the best they can in getting a living [& basking in God's sunlight, on the rocks]. They are easily tamed, [& have beautiful eyes, expressing the utmost gentleness & freedom from guile, so much so that in spite of our suspicious prejudices brought from the cool lizardless countries of the north] and one must soon learn to love them. They dart about on the sunny rocks swift as [like] dragonflies, [so fast their feet are not seen at all] & the eye can hardly follow them. [as they flash[like hummingbirds] from bush to bush some of the brightest of them [are] like hummingbirds among flowers]. But they never make [a] long sustained runs [whatever the object may be but [dart] glide swiftly like an arrow from a bow for a distance of] usually only about 10 or 12 feet, then [make] a sudden stop, [then] and as sudden a start again, going all their journeys by quick [short] jerking impulses. & I find that these many stops in their progress are necessary as rests, for they are short winded & when pursued steadily [allowing no time for rest] are soon out of breath, [&] pant[ing] pitifully & are easily caught. Their bodies are more than half [the body [is] seems]

Date Occurred


Resource Identifier

MuirReel31 Notebook05 Img036.jpg

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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