John Muir and Henry David Thoreau: Nature’s Champions

Today, April 21st, is ‘John Muir Day’ (1838-1914). This Scotland born/US immigrant, who came here as a child and fell inmuir love with Nature has had a big impact on the protection and conservation of this land.

His legacy is especially important now as the current administration in Washington moves to gut and cut laws and regulations protecting and managing the environment Muir lived for. It is alarming that after so many decades of educational as well as theological discourse on the connectedness of all living things we are willing to relax and abolish standards that would protect Nature, this sacred Creation, now and for the future.

thoreau2017 is also the bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), who, as well, impacted and personalized our knowledge and relationship with Nature. There are conferences and symposia going on all year in celebration of his life and work.

I want to mark this time in my own way by challenging myself to read and ponder some of Thoreau’s books, essays and poems. As the Boston Globe stated in an article from early January of this year, “Why Thoreau Still Matters,” I hope to assess this for myself. Like John Muir, Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Aldo Leopold and so many others for whom Nature is the touchstone of life, does Thoreau still matter for us in the 21st century when that touchstone is slowly obliterated with each passing day? Or will works that ponder, plead, and describe the environment and our bond come to exist only in books because the reality has become meaningless literally going the way of the dodo bird?

This is, for me, a call to arm myself with the foundation of a past that still matters. And maybe for you, too. Can these words move us to what the writers felt that will not only get us outside experiencing our own connections, but to act as they did as protectors and defenders of our beautiful land, rivers and mountains?

And as a crow just flew past my window (really!), I believe the answer is, “Yes!”



6 thoughts on “John Muir and Henry David Thoreau: Nature’s Champions

  1. This is a great post.

    I never knew much about John Muir. I should know more about him. I love Thoreau.

    Protecting our planet and environment may be the most important things humans can do at this time in history. Current political developments are alarming and troubling.

    My wife and I will be Marching in a Science March today. The theme of my sign is protecting the environment.


  2. What a great post! I didn’t know that there was a “John Muir Day” and how appropriate that it’s the day before Earth Day. I dont think that I have ever read anything by John Muir and that is something I definitely need to correct. Btw…your personal challenge sounds like it will be inspiring! Have a wonderful time! 🙂


    • Hey, thanks!

      I read my first Muir book only last year, Muir Among the Animals, and really loved it.

      When I found out this was Thoreau’s bicentennial year I realized I had never even read Walden and with so many events and articles about him available that was MY something I needed to correct 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t realize Muir was Scotland born! I’m of distant Scottish heritage (distant first cousin of William Wallace.) 🙂

    I absolutely love Thoreau. A good one is “Walking,” but oof course Walden is my favorite. Read Emerson too: his essay Nature. I have Muir and Dillard on my list. Sounds like a lovely project. x


    • I didn’t know Muir was Scottish until I read him last year!

      Yes, I am reading ‘Walking’ now and plan to read all of Walden. I think I have just read snippets here and there.

      Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Dillard is excellent. One of my very favorite books in this genre is The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. He writes so beautifully about flora and fauna totally unrelated to anything in California, but his style is riveting to me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.