Epigraph by John Muir

Austin and Mary Ann Gardner Memorial WoodsI received the copyedited version of my Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana manuscript from IU Press on Friday and immediately realized I had given no thought whatsoever to an epigraph. A serious oversight, I'd say, for a book designed to motivate readers to explore and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds them.

This is my last chance to tweak the text. So, the time to add a quote or saying that expresses the book's theme is now. And, given my Sierra Club focus at this stage of life, the source for that inspiration was obvious. It had to be John Muir.

This summer I read two of his books -- The Story of My Boyhood and Youth and A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. And next Sunday, I will be certified to lead hikes by the Sierra Club he founded in 1892. Here's the quote I've decided on, so far:

"I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!" - John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938)

The choice wasn't easy. And it may not be final. Here are some other contenders.

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." - John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938)

"Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life." - A Muir margin note on Volume I of Prose Works by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods." - John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938)

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter." - Life and Letters of John Muir (1924)

I found all of these quotes on the Sierra Club's Quotations of John Muir website.

Bluffs of Beaver Bend Nature Preserve

Photographs: Top, Austin and Mary Ann Gardner Memorial Woods, Brown County; Bottom, Bluffs of Beaver Bend Nature Preserve, Martin County


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