John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



See pages 101 and 112

June 28th} [This is a] Warm mellow [ripe] summer [day] Throbbing with fullness of a life making every nerve tingle [with infinitely triumphant joy] Lizards glinting about on the sunny rocks [stones]

Some [of them] that live near the camp are (Trans) more than half tame. Gentle guileless creatures with beautiful eyes. They seem [very] attentive to every movement on our part as if curious to simply look on, without suspicion of harm turning their heads to look back & making a variety of pretty gestures. I should be glad to serve these small [little] friends [in any way & will be] sorry to leave them when we change camp The flowers and new needles of the pines and firs etc are nearly fully grown & shine gloriously [with] [in the [right] light &] Soon the seasons crop of cones will be ripe and the seeds will be flying through all the forest like the young birds [most of young] shall be sorry to [serve] leave [birds are out of the nest & are learning to fly. Soon the pine [cone] seeds]] will be taking wing also from their beautiful some [cone] nests.. Clouds .05 etc see pg 101 and 112

June 29th} Clouds .05 I have been making the aquaintance [acquaintance] of a very interesting little bird that flits about near the [water]falls & the rapids [cascading portions] of the main branches of the river. It is not a water bird in structure [at all] & yet it gets its living in the water & is never seen [goes] away from the immediate margin of [the] streams

It is not web-footed. Yet it dives fearlessly into (the) deep [rough] swirling boiling eddies [& rapids] evidently to feed at the bottom using its wings to swim with under water just as ducks & loons do [underwater]. Sometimes it wades about in shallow places thrusting its head under from time to time in a jerky nodding frisky way that is sure to attract attention [very attractive to me].


It is about the size of a robin, [with] has short crisp wings [not too wide] serviceable for flying either in water or air & a tail of moderate size slanted upward [in such a way as to] give it with its nodding bobbing manners, a wrenish look.

[The] Its color is plain bluish ash with a tinge of brown on the head & [about the] shoulders

[When] It flies from fall to fall [place to place it goes] with a solid whir of wingbeats like those of a quail, & follows [all] the windings of the stream & usually alights on some rock jutting up out of the [middle of the] current or on some stranded snag or rarely on the dry limb of an overhanging tree, perching like regular tree-birds when it suits its convenience. It has the oddest daint[y]iest mincing manners imaginable & the little fellow can sing too, a sweet thrushy flutey song rather low, not the least boisterous & much less keen & accentuated than from [the] its vigorous briskness [manners he exhibits] one would be led to look for.

What a romantic life this little bird lives [to live] on the most beautiful portions of the [most beautiful] [happy mountain] streams in a genial climate [delicious always near] with shade & cool water & spray to temper the summer heats No wonder it is a fine singer [Well might that bird be a poet] & [a most romantic one] considering the stream songs [he] it hears day and night, winter and summer. Every breath [he] the little poet draws is part [a piece] of a song, for all the air about the rapids & falls is beaten into [cast in] music [waves] and its first song lessons must begin before its born by the thrilling & quivering of the eggs in unison with the tones of the falls.

I have not found his nest yet but it must be near the streams for it never leaves them. A darling truly.

Date Occurred


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MuirReel31 Notebook05 Img059.jpg

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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