John Muir


[John Muir]


[Merrills & Moores]


[Cedar Key?] Jan 3d 68

Dear friends I was so glad to hear from you I thought a letter from you had been lost but it found our Key at last about a month after it was written "Slow wanderings" which you applied to the motion of my letter may be applied to all Southern Mails Postal arrangements are miserable. I did not tell you where to write because I could not I did not go to places I came to them & seld knew where I would be found I cordially wish you all happy N year I am glad to know that you are all well I have been sick for two months with repeated attacks of fever bilious and intermittent. All who live here have fever sometime Had I not been comp- elled to stop I could not have been caught. My ups and downs of health may be seen at a glance upon this line

Death line 100 80 60 [Diagram drawn in here] 40 Limits of health line 20

I mean to start for Cuba tomorrow or next day I do not grow stronger here I shall be glad of the chance of studying the sea Matters here flow in a different channel from those of Ind. The preachers do not preach ch[illegible] do not breathe lecturers do not come to mar their comfort by building up that of others, nor do merchants spill each others blood all seek 100 per cent on every kind of goods There are only two seasons on this Key warm summer & warmer summer & as the weather goes smoothly over the points of union so our storms are not so loud nor so [illegible]. Thus our temp. of Dec. last was about 65° in shade this Key is 2 1/2 or 3 ms. in dia. & is 44 ft. above the sea at the highest point It is surrounded by scores of other keys, many of them beautifully covered by Palmettos Elders & live oak trimmed & united by many a flower & vivid with shining evergreen foliage others consists of just a bank of shells or sand with a few mangroves & grasses encompassed with a broad rim of rushes forming a dear retirement for gray & weary seabirds especially pelicans rich in fish All of these islets are in shallow water inside the bars & at low tide some of them are united just below the house is quite a extensive tract regularly laid with farms rich favorite feeding ground for thousands of white & blue cranes & a multitude of other waders, day by day they gather from the reedy islands & from the woods confident that their food ready I have watched these noble flocks of fowls with the deepest int- as they gracefully had their daily bread upon these open banks & shallows. Happy happy birds with such

I wish I were among the storms & winds of the N for a while all sights & sounds are strange here (The winds go among the long folds & tassels of long moss & the broad shining live oaks & the dry longfingered leaves of the palmettos & over hundreds of strange vines & bushes gathering up a burden sounds that on Northman can read The streams speak only in low whispers ever in deepest shade muffled with [illegible] that dips upon them from banks above The birds are mostly strange & it requires much time to become accustomed to the voices, the mocking bird is a very fine singer and a noble good looking bird & many of the smaller wood birds are perfect gems both in song & appearance I think that some of our northern birds that winter here get a foreign accent even the crow it seems to me puts on airs & caws in a different language) The climate of these Keys is perfectly delightful in the winter when the sun shines with its very best light just the same in quality as that which fills the balmy days of your Indian summer I known of but one deciduous tree or bush on the island all retain their green leaves without any of the tints of Autumn but plant green here is not so bright & pure as it is at the N because the grass leaves are coarser & stand more upright & because the sun beams so glance & blaze upon the glossy thick evergreen leaves of the trees which are so abundant that the whole green of the landscape is mixed & whitened I have repeatedly gone up to examine a bush that seemed to be white with flowers but which had only bright leaves We often go the house top to see the sun set we obtain a splendid view of land & water & sea It could not be more beautifully arranged I never saw more beautiful sunsets anywhere the sky colored to the most perfect loveliness

Jo M[illegible] M[uir?]

Climate fls Brds etc.\ of Fla



Ced[ar] Key[s], [Fla]

Date Original

1868 Jan 3


Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 13.0 cm

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 1164

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Owning Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. 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



4 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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