Friday, January 22, 2010

A Wind-Storm in the Forests

John Muir (1838–1914)
From American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau

John Muir—the surprise star of Ken Burns’s recent PBS documentary, The National Parks—is most remembered for founding the Sierra Club in 1911 and for the preservation of Yosemite, but another of his great legacies is his prose, which introduced a new vocabulary to the genre of nature writing. Passionate and witty, his books and essays captured the national imagination and fueled support for the preservation movement. Originally published as a part of The Mountains of California in 1894, “A Wind-Storm in the Forests” exhibits Muir’s awe and love of the wilderness, twin feelings that motivated one of the most remarkable of American lives.

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The mountain winds, like the dew and rain, sunshine and snow, are measured and bestowed with love on the forests to develop their strength and beauty. However restricted the scope of other forest influences, that of the winds is universal. The snow bends and trims the upper forests every winter, the lightning strikes a single tree here and there, while avalanches mow down thousands at a swoop as a gardener trims out a bed of flowers. . . . If you don't see the full story below, click here (PDF) or click here (Google Docs) to read it—free!

This selection may be photocopied and distributed for classroom or educational use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Epitome of the sense of becoming one with nature, Muir's experience swaying high in the fir tree during the wind storm is glorious to read! In his descriptions one can smell the resinous fragrances and feel the rushes of wind. His writing grips our conscience like juniper its mountain.