Two Johnnies in Alaska

Two Johnnies in Alaska

You are invited to respectfully discuss your thoughts, questions and responses to class lectures and readings here.

Note:  The instructor moderates the forum and will manually approve each comment before it gets posted to assure privacy and respectful discourse.

Thank you for participating in this adventure “on the trail” with John and John!

52 thoughts on “Forum

  1. Submitted by Wayne. . .

    In our discussion yesterday there was talk about whether nature is cruel or good or just is. My feeling is it just is, but that doesn’t keep us from witnessing some pretty terrible things.

    Last night I was going to a dinner at the Civic Center, and as I was driving on the road between the court buildings and the lagoon, traffic was stopped to let a female mallard and her eight ducklings cross the road from the court building to the lagoon. I watched the parade a la “Make Way For Ducklings” until the ducks had gotten to the curb of the lagoon side. Then I drove and turned into the Showcase Theater drive and parked and walked back toward the ducks. I saw seven of the ducklings in the water and a man very carefully corralling and putting the eighth into the lagoon.

    Then I asked, “But where is the mother.” We looked around, and then saw her on the other side of the road, being chased and mounted by a male. She tried to evade him and make her way back to her ducklings, but a car hit and killed her and hit and hurt the male! I was devastated, as was the man who had helped the little duckling. He and another woman and I stood around while he called the SPCA, who said they would send people out to corral the babies. While we waited, the male mallard made his way to the water, even though he had a damaged wing and beak. After a few minutes, about ten other males converged on him and drowned him!

    I walked to my dinner, and found my hostess had gotten her foot stuck in a bush after parking and fallen on her face and been taken to Marin General by paramedics. I looked out across the lagoon and saw that the Humane Society truck had arrived, and so I walked back to see what luck they were having in catching the ducklings. They had no boat, only nets, and as far as I could tell, unless they got some kind of a boat they would have no luck. If I had been dressed as I do to come to class, I would have waded into the yucky water and tried to herd the ducklings toward the nets. I had to give up on the duck scene, but how sad 😦

    I was dressed for a fancy event to honor people like me who had been mentors to low income Marin students to help them get into college. The dinner event and fund-raiser for 10,000 Degrees was very uplifting. The keynote speaker was a black man from Marin City from a poor home where the great grandmother and 10,000 Degrees were huge influences in his life to keep him off the streets and from selling narcotics and to get a college degree from St. Mary’s College and now to being hired for the last five years to mentor other disadvantaged students. He is adorable, and mentored me as I mentored my mentee.

    If we’re all part of nature, then I witnessed in one short evening a devastating side and a triumphant side.

    All the best to you and all classmates.

    • Hello Friends and Fellow Classmates,
      I’ve been looking at Laura Cunningham’s wonderful book, A STATE OF CHANGE: Forgotten Landscapes of California. In her conclusion she writes, “The NPS…has defined ‘natural’ as ‘the dynamic conditions that would exist if the dominant Euro-American culture had never arrived, but Native Americans had continued to use the landscape.’ But [as Laura points out] if we wish to treat ecosystems as museumlike settings, we will not be able to live on and with the land. Ecologic health makes no sense when we leave ourselves out of the picture.”

      In her discussion of “relocalizing,” she lists these principles of the Klamath Tribes:
      permanence, collaboration, sense of place, ecological health, balance and healing. These sound quite global, to me!

  2. Today in class I mentioned the poet William Wordsworth and his impact on Muir. I’ve been reading “A Passion For Nature: The Life of John Muir” by Donald Worster. Here’s what Worster says:

    “Another northern lad besides Muir had been deeply touched by Burns’s passion for nature and the egalitarian feelings that accompanied it: William Wordsworth (1770-1850).”

    Worster calls Wordsworth “one of the greatest religious figures of his day” and says that Muir often quoted him, although not as frequently as he quoted Burns.

    Worster writes “What Wordsworth put in simple, accessible, and moving words was a new religion that made nature the source of revelation. Put aside your creeds and dogmas, your theories and libraries, he invited, and go to the mountains. There you will find answers to your most fundamental questions: What is good or evil? How should humans live? Does God exist? Nature says yes to the last question, but no to a deity conceived in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Instead, nature gives “a sense sublime/Of something far more deeply interfused…a spirit that impels/All thinking things, all objects of thought/And rolls through all things.” Was that spirit located above and beyond, or was it located within nature, Wordsworth asked himself, but it was a question he never resolved. [“A Passion For Nature,” page 33]

    PS – Helpful hint: If you want to read more from this book, Google almost any sentence, such as “simple, accessible, and moving words was a new religion” and Google will take you to the Googled version of this book. Click on that link and you’ll be in the book.

    • Thank you for this, Ann. Those are certainly some themes and questions we could carry further down the trail! A good reminder of the central place poetic imagination plays in wild spirituality.

    • “There is nothing in me that is not of earth, no split instant of separateness, no particle that disunites me from the surroundings. I am no less than the earth itself. The rivers run through my veins, the winds blow in and out with my breath, the soil makes my flesh, the sun’s heat smolders inside me. A sickness or injury that befalls the earth befalls me. A fouled molecule that runs through the earth runs through me. Where the earth is cleansed and nourished, its purity infuses me. The life of the earth is my life. My eyes are the earth gazing at itself…I am the island and the island is me.” (Anthropologist Richard Nelson 1989, The Island Within, 249, 250).

    • I really appreciate the materials Chris gave us this week – especially his words about humanity needing to grow up, out of our adolescence. The piece he gave us by NPR’s Nancy Ellen Abrams on April 24 backs that up: “We humans are entering an era of enormous danger. Chaos and injustice will inevitably accompany the changing global climate…and peace between science and God, peace between reason and spirit, would certainly be advantageous.” Chris’s suggestions to ask common questions (Wayne’s concept of “framework”), collaborate to help, and hold on to goodness and beauty seem to take up Jonathan Hodgson’s vimeo challenge to “fill the God-shaped hole.” Hats off, Chris!

  3. Thank you, Chris, for posting Katherine’s remark that the Supernatural may just be the natural we don’t understand (yet). That’s a good way of putting it! People argue about so much to which we have no answers. I was listening to NPR the end of the week to a scientist who said the universe is made up of so much dark matter and dark energy (80-90% between the two, or more, I can’t remember exactly) that we don’t yet understand. Let’s face it, we don’t understand much. But it’s interesting to pose questions and try to find a framework that works for each of us.

  4. I think I read this week, or did you tell us, that one of the US states has adopted the Bible as its state Book. Do you think more people are turning to specific theocracies because the world is in such turmoil? What is the history of theocracy in the US, meaning what have been the percentages of believers in a God vs. agnostics and atheists at different times in our country? Does any of our class know?

    • Yes, Wayne, some in Tennessee proposed that, but it didn’t pass. It’s a trend in the U.S.. There are various polls and percentages given out regarding faith perspectives. I find the issue of Theocracy you raise fascinating. I’m sure there will be many class opinions on this timely subject!

  5. I’ve been smiling as I reflect on the brief but profound exchange in class between Katherine and Carolyn. A question was raised about the supernatural and Katherine responded (correct me if I don’t get it right, Katherine): Maybe the supernatural is the natural we don’t understand [yet?]. We might reflect long and hard on this. I think it saunters close to the heart of Muir, and Burroughs as well.

    We’ll be considering this a bit further in next week’s discussion on ritual, or those actions we take to honor relationships with reverence.

    And, I’m curious to know what Great Questions are arising for you (or most troubling you) in this course (and are the Johnnies helping)?

    • Thanks, Chris. I’ve always disliked the term “supernatural” for various reasons,,, not the least of which is that it automatically implies a split between nature and not-nature — whatever that would be — and makes “natural” sound lesser. Also … sounds too much like “superstition”. Though I suppose it could mean “even more natural”. But that’s not the way we generally use it.

      As for the Big Questions — wanted to throw this out there: Some time ago I was reading an article in the Religion section of Huffington Post titled something like “Awe — Spirituality for Atheists” (searched for a link but couldn’t find it). What interested me most, though, (annoyed me, actually) was one of the comments. It went something like this: “Sure, atheists are capable of feeling awe. But why make such a fuss over something that is essentially a neurochemical accident?”.

      Now, by “neurochemical accident”, I assume he meant “not directly related to Survival.” And therefore, I suppose, not a reliable guide to Reality. (Although, by what criteria does one brain function call another untrustworthy?)

      (Also, since said commenter comes off as a bit of a know-it-all, and feelings of awe and wonder, by definition really, include a sense of mystery — the unknown — well, perhaps I’m being unfair …)

      So this has been my Big Question for some time now: Are these spiritual feelings, mystical openings, etc. pointing to anything we would call Real? And how would we know?

      And now … this (from science fiction writer Terry Prachett) never fails to make me grin:
      “The current state of knowledge is this: In the beginning there was nothing — which exploded.”


      • Good to have you in the forum, Katherine. You raise excellent, thought-stirring questions! That which is “not-nature.” Something to think about, isn’t it? I wonder how anything could be “even more natural.” (or, as I joked in class, “Nature-Plus”). I think that if someone points to something beyond nature or natural experience they would need to offer some evidence common to all of us–something we could test for ourselves. Otherwise, as Paine puts it, that would simply be “hearsay.”

        Much is being written by non-religious people about “spirituality.” Here’s one: I find that intriguing.

        As for your question, I’ll take a stab at it. I agree, it’s annoying when some reduce so much of life to brain functions (though the brain is quite an unexplored wilderness!). I think Burroughs would agree that the spiritual feelings and sense of mystery are indeed pointing to something: to the “Eternal Creative Energy” billions of people call divine, by many names. As for what is “Real”. . .well, we keep exploring, asking our questions, and seek to learn and to “know”–without jumping to traditional conclusions. . .at least, not too quickly!

        Great Prachett quote!

        I hope others have some comments in reply to you. . .

        Thank you!

        • I watched Alex DeGrasse Tyson’s video in the article link you gave us, Chris. He spoke of connection — I’ve been hearing that word a lot lately. I share his enthusiasm for humans’ connection to the universe: “The molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos…we are stardust…gives us some commonality of spirit….” Tyson states we are alive to be connected, to feel our lives are relevant, and to be a participant of events around us. That brings me back to being grateful for the connections we make in class!

          • Good to be grateful for those connections! Thank you, Carolyn. Tyson’s comments recall Burroughs’ line from The Breath of Life (1915): “We are all made of one stuff. . .and the secret of [our differences] may be in the way the molecules and atoms of our bodies take hold of hands and perform their mystic dances in the inner temple of life.” That’s about as anthropomorphic (and mystical) as Burroughs gets!

        • Thank you, Chris. I took a look at the article you linked …”deep sense of incomprehensibility at the wonder of sheer existence” ;;; love that!

          It’s the Nothing-Butters that get me down.


  6. Chris, I’m hoping this is the way to send you something that’s a possible contribution to the forum:

    I’m interested in how objects, like poetry, can help us to reach into the ineffable. In the week after I brought my staff (the closest thing I have to a walking stick) into the class, I encountered articles about catastrophic bark beetle infestations in National Geographic and the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The most unique features of my staff are the complex patterns of lines formed by beetles burrowing beneath the branch’s bark. I found myself wondering if my staff should be considered a harbinger of ecological catastrophe.

    I did a little on-line research, and apparently, due to a warmer and dryer climate in western North America, varieties of bark beetles are wiping out broad swaths of forest. Each type of beetle specializes in one or a few types of trees, in one or a few types of trees, and where in the past theCy might infest individual weakened or damaged specimens, they now find many more stressed trees of the same kind, and the longer warm seasons allow the beetles to reproduce more prolifically.

    I found the staff in August 1987 (on “Harmonic Convergence” day) and I had always assume the beetles chewing their way through the wood were a natural force in balance with other ongoing cycles. I think I even read about infestations of pine forests in southern California, but I didn’t think of a connections to the Guerneville redwoods where I found the staff.

    My more recent research led to illustrations of “egg-laying galleries” created by varieties of “cedar and cypress bark beetles,” which are know to chew their way into redwoods. The patterns are formed after an adult beetle lays eggs on either side of a gallery she is creating. When the eggs hatch, little beetles create much smaller galleries at right angles to their mama’s. Eventually they divert from the centipede-like pattern they initially make, and the passages they chew out and fill with their sawdust-like “frass” tend to turn down the length of the branch and become wider as each baby beetle grows.

    Other types of bark beetles create surprisingly different patterns.

    In redwoods, these beetles feed “under the bark of the bole and branches of stressed, dying, or felled trees, or broken branches.” I didn’t find any suggestions that redwoods are more endangered by bark beetles than they have ever been. My staff may well have been severed from its tree before beetles began to carve the patterns.

    So the staff probably isn’t the product of changing climate or evidence of a redwood catastrophe, But it is a reminder of natural patterns of life and death.

    Are beetles more or less holy than redwoods?

    I must marvel when the bark that hides the beetles’ working has been peeled away.

    And I remember that beetles like those that engraved the staff are now destroying forests across North America.

    Rick Wagner

    • Hi Rick,
      I really appreciate your generosity for bugs, yet can’t forget the feeling of doom I felt when wandering the shores of Donner Lake during the massive pine beetle infestation that struck over a decade ago. My gut reaction is “imbalance.” Something (or group of factors) catapulted them from a static to a skyrocketing population.
      (I’m so relieved today that we got a bit more rain. The trees seem to be smiling.)

    • Naomi Klein at Bioneers on Marin TV
      Every Wednesday at 1 pm (repeating Saturdays at 1), those who were unable to attend this year’s Bioneers conference can tune in to some of best action thinking on the planet. Don’t miss headliner Naomi Klein on her blockbuster new book, This Changes Everything–Capitalism v. the Climate, April 15 (& 18) and Clayton Thomas-Muller on the Canadian native rights-based ‘Movement to Protect our Commons, April 22 (& 25).

    • Thank you, Rick. Your reading and reflection here shows the dilemmas that arise with natural interactions! The questions are good. . .answers are elusive. We see Nature’s destruction and our own part in that, and we are rightly troubled. So we search for understanding, for solutions, and continue to learn.

      I respect how you see the beauty as well as struggle with our sense of “holy,” the “natural patterns” and all arising from your close up investigation of your walking staff!

      This took me back to read Whitman’s “Song of the Redwood Tree,” “voice of a mighty, dying tree.” Poignant celebration of both the tree and what was being built with those trees. Another dilemma!

      • I just uncovered some thought-provoking questions from the upcoming Society of American Archaeology conference in SF that I wanted to share with the class: [30] Symposium · THE INTERSECTION OF SACREDNESS AND ARCHAEOLOGY
        As more and more of our physical landscape is being altered through rapid growth and development, the cultural landscape is also being changed and challenged. These changes often reflect the interests of some members of society, while the interests of others, including those of Native communities and many archaeologists, environmentalists and others who understand the importance of knowing the past, are disregarded. The latter group is dedicated toward preserving special places, and continuing to provide for Native people the ability to celebrate their traditions and focusing on defining the sacred landscape. What is
        sacred? Who defines sacred, and with what parameters? And, how is sacredness determined? Is it a legal term that is defined by the courts? And, are there degrees of sacredness? Can sacred and profane co-exist? What role do Native oral traditions play in defining a sacred landscape? Is a sacred landscape static, or can it be fluid and change? The term sacred can be applied to rock art sites, formations on the physical landscape, rituals, artifacts, evidence of past activities, and even, intangible oral traditions. This symposium
        will explore the many facets of sacredness that challenges the participants to view sacredness with an emic perspective.

  7. I also really appreciate your frank and open inquiry, Ann. The definition for religion I mentioned in class (“way of life connected by experiences, convictions; ultimate power such as God, the Tao, Buddha nature”) was from my son’s 5th grade world religions teacher, Phil Nix. He asked, “How do people hurt?” and, “How do people love?” He said that children stop asking questions when we don’t have interesting, informative answers.
    Apparently the need for, and sense of religion is evolving as we are (a bit too slowly, if you forgive my criticism.) I’m glad to hear from Chris that we’ll be studying ethics — I agree — such an inquiry goes hand-in-hand with nature studies.
    If religion can be a source of comfort — something that helps us achieve a sense of balance — then my religion is Mount Tam!

  8. On Religion:

    I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out my religious beliefs, often while sitting in church or synagogue services where I didn’t “fit.”

    What should a religion offer? Or, another approach is to ask, if we were to design a religion, what would we need to include? (Is there some kind of a checklist for designers of religions?)

    For me, the most important aspect is moral/ethical values. Rules to live by and to teach my children such that they become moral, ethical, compassionate, etc. people. For this, I do find the Judeo-Christian tradition to be appropriate.

    The second most important is comfort in time of need. I haven’t found the Judeo-Christian tradition to be helpful.

    I do not look to religion to explain natural phenomena. That’s the job of science.

    Nor do I look to it for rituals and practices.

    What else should a religion offer?
    Ann Peckenpaugh Becker

    • You raise wonderful and “full of wonder” questions here, Ann! We will certainly be engaging these along our way.

      Designing a religion! Wow. I guess you are piecing something together that works for you and your family. That’s admirable, and honest. And, maybe the only way to do it?

      Something to live by. Perhaps that’s the main offering of any truly practical worldview. We’ll be considering Ethics in the next class, so your insights will be helpful in the conversation.

      Maybe other classmates have some responses?

  9. Wayne is away right now, but I offered to post her email to me.

    Thank you, Chris, for the video of the Wise and Wild Women. It was amazing to me that Emerson called his Aunt Mary his “heroine” and that Thoreau called her the wittiest and most vivacious of people. I had a more dour impression of her after reading Emerson’s lecture to the Women’s Club of Boston, but I’m glad to have read what you pulled up.

    I was also interested to be introduced to Fanny Wright as the first woman to speak in front of large audiences and the first woman to oppose slavery, and to read of Margaret Fuller as having established the Women’s Movement – she had a short life, who knows what she might have accomplished had she lived longer. These women were in your “stream,” influencing people who influenced Muir and Burroughs, although I doubt they ever met. And to read more about Jeanne Carr and Clara Barrus. I wish I could have been in class to hear your commentary as the pages slowly turned.

    I have read about 60 pages of “The Age of Reason,” and I am fascinated. I love that for Paine the word of God is Creation – throw religions and their books out! Study science.

    • I’ve been reading A PASSION FOR NATURE: THE LIFE OF JOHN MUIR by Donald Worster (2008); in the front of the book Worster mentions that Muir wrote that his passion for nature derived from a “natural inherited wildness in our blood” (MY BOYHOOD & YOUTH). This was in 1913, the early days of genetics and evolutionary psychology. E.O. Wilson suggested we all have an in-born “biophilia,” a love of nature – “the innate tendency to focus on life and life-like processes.” This seems to have resulted in (among lesser things) our nature conservation movement. To Muir, the concept of “God” was a “deliberately loose and imprecise term referring to an active, creative force dwelling in, above, and around nature” (p. 8).

      Interestingly, near the end of the book Worster argues that John’s life quite closely followed the path of his father’s, Daniel Muir. They both disregarded conventional teaching and sought their own gospels. John wrote that once he found his gospel, he never lost his “glorious foundational religious enthusiasm” (p.457). Yet Worster points out that the two men’s doctrines were significantly different: “…the son’s gospel depicted a morally pure, benign, and gentle Nature. Love was the ruling principle of that natural world…. Liberality, receptivity to science, tolerance of individuality, and openness to beauty were the qualities needed for redemption” (p.458)

        • Yep – I’m a convert: “liberality, receptivity to science, tolerance of individuality, and openness to beauty.” It’s interesting to see how Muir’s writing about a traditional, Christian god recedes as his life and experiences with conservation/the Hetch Hetchy struggle advance. ‘Wish the writings of our wild women were as available! I’ll try to dig a little deeper….

    • I’ve been reading AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY (about the lives of the original Transcendentalists) by Susan Cheever and was amused by her saying, “The Transcendentalists who met in [Frederic Henry] Hedge’s Club were the original hippies – young, smart, and dedicated to the overthrow of the stuffy authorities.” She mentions later that those “stuffy authorities” (Harvard’s JQ Adams and A Norton) didn’t neglect to notice Emerson and his writing, calling that latter “conceited, laborious nonsense.” Perhaps they also knew that Thoreau’s friend Jones Very thought that he himself was the new Messiah. Sigh.

  10. Thank you, Chris, for teaching us about our “founding mothers.” Especially under the early Euro-American economic, social, and intellectual patriarchy, I can appreciate the works of Mary Emerson, Frances Wright, Margaret Fuller, Jeanne Carr, Ursula North-Burroughs and Clara Barrus. Although gendered gestures and rhetoric still dominate our culture, violence and tyrannical power should no longer script our concentric worlds of personal life and society.

    • Yes, Carolyn, we have much to learn from our past and much exploration ahead. These women, alongside the men they inspired, offer creative thinking and reasonable, natural alternatives for our way forward. Thank you.

    • Chris, My Father (Joe) and I recently stumbled upon your group along the trail and are happy to be part of the hike. However, since we missed the “base camp” lecture we are wondering if there is any supplemental trail maps we could check out to get on track?

      • And good to have you both, Margo! As we are “on the trail of” Muir and Burroughs, we are spending some time going “upstream,” seeking some of the sources and fountains that fed into the lively natural “heretical” rivers of ideas developed by the Johnnies. I usually defer to original sources (wrinkled maps), so for trail newcomers I would recommend Muir’s “First Summer in the Sierra,” “My Boyhood and Youth” and/or his Journals (Linnie Marsh Wolfe). With Burroughs, since he wrote nearly 30 books, I recommend for this class-hike: “Time and Change,” “Leaf and Tendril,” “Light of Day” and/or “Accepting the Universe.” Some of these may be in the online links I provide on the Resources page.
        Let me know if I can point to other guidebooks and trailmaps!

  11. I hear you, Norm. This is a popular view. I’d be interested in the source of the church-going story. Just before his father’s death his family invited him to church but apparently he said he’d rather sit out and hear the birds sing!
    In this class, with Burroughs’ help, we will take a slightly different angle on Muir’s radical spirituality, out beyond any particular religion. Thank you for your comments.

  12. Chris:
    I finished the two readings by Francis Wright and John Steinback. Combining the thoughts about equality and the idea that the religions of the world are too heavy to carry in your back back got me thinking. Maybe that’s what Jesus was referring to when he proclaimed that there are only two commandments. Love God and love one another. Maybe He was saying that you don’t need that back pack full of rules, regulations and requirements. Maybe John Muir was saying that if you love nature by definition you’ll love it’s creator i.e. God and that satisfies the first commandment of Jesus. This leads to the question what did John Muir say if anything about loving one another, the second commandment of Jesus? Does treating one another with true equality satisfy the love one another commandment? I know that Muir was a Christian so he must have known about Jesus trying to simplify religion down to the basic concept of loving a higher being that created all that we see and loving all men(and women) equally.
    Does that make any sense or am I being too simplistic?
    Joe Dillon

    • Interesting thread of the trail you’re on here, Joe. You may be correct to an extent, that Muir connected a sincere love of Nature with a love of the Creator, though we will be looking at what Muir may have meant by “God.” There is an important nuance here we will discuss in class: does a love of Nature LEAD to a love of a Creator, OR, is it EQUIVALENT to a love of God? He certainly honored Jesus, yet spoke rarely of him. As for his Christian belief, I think that is questionable, especially given the first point–Nature=God. Not a Christian view.
      Muir certainly seems to have taken “love one another” quite seriously, and once again, seems to have drawn that love from his family, his somewhat radical faith, and Nature itself.
      You are not being simplistic at all. You are identifying a significant question, perhaps one with no final answer! Thank you!

  13. Good insights, Norm. Yes, ineffable is not a word we use much, but directs us to the wonder of those indescribable moments that Muir struggled to describe in such rich poetic/religious language. He was more of a talker than a writer (as Burroughs said). Wish we could listen to his voice and hear his stories now!

    Please call me Chris. Not the “revered” sort these days! Hope to have more class members posting their comments as well.

  14. Quite the history, Norm! We all bring such a richness of experience to this course, don’t we? Good to have you. Check the course map for any readings or links I post this week. See you on the 12th.

  15. Jim asked for the quote on Beauty from today’s class presentation (The Literary Muir). As of now, I’ve only seen this in Linnie Marsh Wolfe’s “Son of the Wilderness” (page 267). Marsh is comparing Muir to Wordsworth’s poetic sense of God in Nature.

    The quote from “a journal” of Muir’s says,

    “The pines, spiring around me higher and higher to the star-flowered sky, are plainly full of God. God in them. They in God. . . . Oh, the infinite abundance and universality of Beauty. Beauty is God. What shall we say of God, that we may not say of Beauty!”

  16. Chris, I was reading online from Barrus, John Burroughs, Boy and Man, and I loved her description of a Life magazine caricature of Burroughs. She said, “It represents Johnnie Burroughs as a small barefoot boy in short trousers and checked shirt, but with the white hair and flowing beard we all know. He is holding a rabbit in his hands, butterflies are resting on one shoulder…It is pretty true to life except…[h]e usually has a twinkle in his eye…it represents him having a good time out of doors with his wild friends…” I love this image of him with the excitement of discovery of a young boy in short pants even at 84 or whatever age he was when she wrote.
    See you soon. Wayne

    • Wonderful image it is, Wayne! Burroughs was 77 when Barrus wrote this. The cartoon certainly reflects the delightful enthusiasm of the childlike wonderment of Burroughs. He probably loved the image too! Thank you for drawing this out for us.

      • Ahh, I was wrong, Wayne. I was thinking this was Barrus’ other book, “Our Friend, JB” (1914). “Boy and Man” came out in 1920, so JB would have been 83 (the last year of his life–he died before his 84th birthday in 1921).

  17. Chris,

    This is the quote I was looking for! I first saw it in the John Muir Exhibit at the Oakland Museum 2010. To me this is a Tai Chi quote… So happy to have ‘found it’ again, three years down the road in your class.

    I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
    – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1938, republished 1979, page 439.

    • Yes, Marcia! That’s an excellent quote (and book) I come back to again and again. It certainly reveals the insightful Muir! Good to have you in the class. It will be quite a hike of the mind. Chris

  18. A “Note from John Muir”: “I have a low opinion of books; they are but piles of stones set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been, or at best signal smokes to call attention.” (Journals, 1872)
    The full impact of this wisdom shines through in the last part of his journal entry:
    “No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul *know* these mountains. . . One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books.”
    There will be cartloads of readings for you to choose from in this course. . .but the mountains we will climb are, as Hopkins said, mountains of the mind (and big ideas!).
    Comment away!

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