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FOREST OF MAGNIFICENT SILVER FIRS "Fine sauntering grounds at almost any time of year, but finest in autumn when the Aying, whirling seeds, escaping from the ripe cones, mottle the air like flocks of butterflies.”—The Yosemite
Photo by Geo. R. King
YOUNG MOUNTAIN HEMLOCK "No other of our alpine conifers as finely veils its strength; poised in thin white sunshine . . loving the ground, conscious of heaven and joyously receptive of its blessings.”—The Yosemite
Photo by Herbert W. Gleason
BY ENOS MILLS
In December, 1914, John Muir vanished into that mysterious realm into which all trails inevitably lead. He rendered mankind a vast and heroic service. His triumphs were the very greatest. They were made in times of peace for the eternal cause of peace. We are yet too close to the deeds of this magnificent man to comprehend the helpfulness of his work to humanity. His books and his work are likely to be the most influential force in this century. The twentieth century promises to be for mankind the beautiful century of scenery.
The grandest character in national park history and in nature literature is John Muir. He has written the great drama of the outdoors. On Nature's scenic stage he gave the wild life local habitation and character—did with the wild folk what Shakespeare did with man. He puts the woods in story, and in his story you are in the wilderness. His prose poems illuminate the forest, the storm, and all the fields of life. He has set Pan's melody to words. He sings of sun-tipped peaks and gloomy canons, flowery fields and wooded wilds. He has immortalized the Big Trees. His memory is destined to be ever with the silent places, with the bird songs, with wild flowers, with the great glaciers, with snowy peaks, with dark forests, with white cascades that leap in glory, with sunlight and shadow, with the splendid national parks, and with every song that Nature sings in the wild gardens of the world.
BY HARRIET MONROE
I was fortunate enough to take two Sierra Club outings when John Muir was of the company during the whole four weeks—the first in 1908, through the Kern, and again the next year in the Yosemite. He talked often at the camp-fires, giving generously of his knowledge and love of nature, as everyone knows. But he talked also to smaller groups, and even to any chance companion on the trail, and it is some of these casual hours of happy intercourse which I remember most vividly.
One day, at the Big Arroyo camp, it was butterflies, for some youth was trying to take a picture of one as it poised on a flower. I was struck with the old man's tenderness for these exquisite fairies of the forest, and with the depth and breadth of his knowledge. This was a rare spirit; never had I encountered such delicacy of sympathy with little fluttering, flitting lives. Again, in some high place, it was of a certain species of little bird he talked I have forgotten their name—a Latin one, for
— they live incredibly high, beyond the reach of the vulgar tongue —and his voice softened as he described the valor of their daily life.
But it was on two occasions in the Yosemite that John Muir gave me perhaps the richest of my mountain days. And each day took form in a poem, which I shall probably quote on the trail as we pass. One morning we were climbing out of the Valley by way of Vernal and Nevada Falls. I was a poor climber, always the last on the trail, and Nevada, the dancer, held me back with her beauty. When at last I reached the level granite above her, John Muir was there, mounted on the horse which he rode now and then when no woman would accept the loan of it. He was rapt, entranced; he threw up his arm in a a grand gesture. "This is the morning of creation," he cried, "the whole thing is beginning now! The mountains are singing together"-ah, I can not remember his dithyrambic pæan of praise, which flowed on as grandly as the great white waters beside us. Four days later I made of it this poem, which offers something of what he said, though his free biblical rhythms feel somewhat cramped in my rhymes, and it was I who dragged the human beings in:
It is creation's morning
Freshly the rivers run.
Sing to the shining sun.
The forest, plumed and crested,
Scales the steep granite wall.
March to the festival.
The mountains dance together,
Lifting their domed heads high.
Flaunts in the streaming sky.
Somewhere a babe is borning,
Somewhere a maid is won.
Now is the world begun.
A few days later we took the “long, long hike,” as my diary records it, from Lake Merced to Tuolumne Meadows. Before many hours I met John Muir, who insisted on my riding his horse most of the time; and so it was in his company that I crossed the wet snows and slushy waters of Vogelsang Pass. He introduced me to that lady of the snows, the mountain hemlock, who was just then lifting her head from under the white weight of winter, and spreading her trailing garments in the sun. He told me how she pushed out of the rock and grew, how she bowed to the wind and gently resisted the storm; how she bent under mountain-loads of ice each year, and rose again to the beauty of the sun for a brief summer of joy. He described her moods, revealed her graces-gave me her individuality, her character, until I felt something of his love and intimacy. "You