In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir
Muir was so right, at least I think so. I love the built environment, wandering through city streets, eating street food and photographing mansard roofs and fanlights. Escaping to the woods however is also oh so necessary for me.
With three major sale days after Thanksgiving (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday), Giving Tuesday was created to celebrate generosity and serve as a day of giving. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Muir Woods in northern California, a truly great gift that was given to the United States in 1908.
Photo: Ryan Hines
I’d heard of John Muir but hadn’t studied his work prior to graduate school. I read My First Summer in the Sierras for the first time while taking a Wilderness Management class. It is a beautiful read; a little flowery at times but the emotion and passion Muir had for the wilderness is understood with each word. Many westward pilgrimages were imagined and embarked upon because of Muir and his powerful prose.
Back in the 1800s much of the Northern redwood forests were spared from logging due to their precarious location. In 1905, a wealthy congressman and his wife, William and Elizabeth Kent, purchased 611 acres of forest to be protected. In 1908, they donated the land to the federal government. After which Teddy Roosevelt declared it a National Monument, the first created from land donated by a private individual, and was named for renowned conservationist John Muir.
When the Golden Gate bridge was completed in 1937, visitors to the Muir Woods tripled and today it remains one of the most popular National Monuments in the US. Even with high visitor numbers, the majority of people seem to just walk to the gift shop and turn around. Keep going… Take one of the many loop trails and enjoy the quiet. You may even see a banana slug.
Photo: Ryan Hines
With so much development today in technology and the built environment, it is extraordinary to have a wild sanctuary like this available for anyone to enjoy.
Giving Tuesday will come and go but in the spirit of the holiday season, I hope you’ll think about causes and organizations that are important to you and your community and give a little. Not everyone can donate millions of dollars, but we can all provide a little time and help make a difference.
Links to organizations I love:
National Trust for Historic Preservation
St. Simons Land Trust
Muir Woods National Monument