Wednesday, February 08, 2006



Edwin Way Teale, Autumn Across America (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1956), chapter 33 (Mountain Snow), on John Muir:
"I have not yet in all my wanderings," he wrote to his sister, "found a single person so free as myself. When in the woods I sit for hours watching birds or squirrels or looking down into the faces of flowers without suffering any feeling of haste."

Since Muir's day the margin of time in the average man's life has widened as working hours have become shorter. Yet the demands on that time have been ever increasing. Hazlitt's wish for "a little breathing space to muse on indifferent matters" is a desire that seems each year harder to fulfill. When the famous Sierra Club was formed, one of the early members told me, a primary purpose was to induce people to come to Yosemite. Now in summer the cars move bumper to bumper and the problem is what to do with all the people who come. Time and space -- time to be alone, space to move about -- these may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow. Freedom, as John Muir knew it, with its wealth of time, its unregimented days, its latitude of choice, such freedom seems more rare, more difficult to attain, more remote with each new generation.

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