There once lived a Scottish-born American – a naturalist and early advocate of wildlife preservation – and he changed the way a country looked at nature. His name was John Muir. You might as well call him the father of Yellowstone.
In “Hetch Hetchy Valley”, Muir writes, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” Here, Muir details the anti-depressant qualities of nature. Every one of us needs nature to some degree, whether it is a backyard or a lush and expansive park. It is good for the soul. Green is good and I am not talking about money! Muir’s essay is an early example of eco criticism and his work helped to lay the groundwork for the National Parks. With Muir’s enthusiasm, anything is possible.
Muir continues, “This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks—the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc.—Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world.” There is a hunger deep within us. Some choose to ignore it; others do whatever they can to deal with the hunger, such as the “geranium slip in a broken cup” or pricey gardens. Muir knew that to immerse one’s self in nature is to immerse one’s self in relaxation. It is like stripping naked and swimming in a cool body of water. Set those heavy thoughts aside and simply drift. If we do not take the time to appreciate those geranium slips in broken cups, the hunger will eat away our insides.
You see, Muir knew the world could be a stressful and overbearing place. I wonder what he would think if he lived today. Something tells me he would be disappointed and taken aback. Although the environmental movement is strong, it can be stronger. There is still much we can do. Let us not forget Muir’s message. After all, we are geranium slips in broken cups.
Below is a link to a short video on Muir, courtesy of inspirationandspirit:
*Image courtesy of http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf2r29p09b&brand=calisphere/.