The Wild Muir, edited by Lee Stevenson
This was something that I had experienced but never had the words to explain properly. I happened upon a small well worn copy of “John Muir’s Meditations” in a used book store and everything clicked. This text of snippets from essays catapulted my fascination with this Scotland born man even further.
I had high hopes for this book of essays, a collection of some of the favorites. Although I enjoyed it, I found that I wanted to read the story in its entirety, not just several pages from his journal of that period of time. John Muir is a gifted adventurer and writer, a person whose love of the outdoors turns to poetry on the page. Before reading some of these essays about specific adventures he embarked upon, I never really understood what nature writing was. This was a very good first text to delve into because it covered such a wide breadth of different places and moments in the wild.
Muir writes about the wilderness as if it is a character in his essays. I had seen this done in some of my favorite books with cities whether it was “Jazz” by Toni Morrison or “The Sound and the Fury” by Faulkner, but I had yet to see it done with the wild. It is something that I’ve been wanting to do with my own writing because so much of my memories of my father take place in the Colorado mountains, and Muir gave me an entire book of examples of ways to execute this properly.
Muir’s experiences in Yosemite and the Redwoods and Mount Shasta liken back to Keats and Shelley and their own experiences of the Sublime. They express boundless joy and wonder that I have yet to be able to find the words to pair with those particular emotions. This is not to say that I totally understand this particular talent of Muir’s, I would imagine that it is the truly gifted writers who feel comfortable expressing these profound, life altering emotions, however it was nevertheless helpful to read them amongst his beautiful prose.