I recently found four books by John Muir on Amazon for free:
The Story of my Boyhood and Youth,
My First Summer in the Sierra,
The Mountains of California,
So far, I’ve devoured the first two on that list, and have been delighted by Muir’s delightful descriptions of the land and animals, and his view of the nature of man and the planet.
So far, there has not been a lot of action, mostly lavish descriptions of landscapes and animals, so at times his writing does get repetitive and a bit dull. However, his philosophy and descriptions are such a fresh and satisfying experience, that it makes the dull parts well worth it.
A few choice excerpts:
Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems either long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.
A few minutes ago every tree was exited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is even flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.
My fire squirmed and struggled as if ill at ease, for though in a sheltered nook, detached masses of icy wind often fell like icebergs on top of it, scattering sparks and coals, so that I had to keep well back to avoid bing burned. But the big resiny roots and knots of the dwarf pine could neither be beaten out nor blown away, and the flames, now rushing up in long lances, now flattened and twisted on the rocky ground, roared as if trying to tell the storm stories of the trees they belonged to, as the light given out was telling the story of the sunshine they had gathered in the centuries of summers.
One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature—inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.