LETTERS TO A FRIEND: Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879
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LETTERS TO A FRIEND: Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879

John Muir
I wish that you could have seen the edge of the snow-cloud which hovered, oh, so soothingly, down to the grand Pilot Peak brows, discharging its heaven-begotten snows with such unmistakable gentleness and moving perhaps with conscious love from pine to pine as if bestowing separate and independent blessings upon each. In a few hours we climbed under and into this glorious storm-cloud. What a harvest of crystal flowers and what wind songs were gathered from the spiry firs and the long fringy arms of the Lambert pine!
—from "Yosemite, [1871]"

Perhaps the most important of the founders of the modern conservation movement and an immense influence on animal-rights philosophies, John Muir was a champion of the preservation of unspoiled wilderness. His studies and surveys of Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Nevada mountains in the late 19th century—and his love of their untamed beauty—led directly to federal protection of vast ranges of virgin Western lands.

This collection of letters Muir wrote as a university student in the 1860s and ’70s to his "spiritual mother," botanist Mrs. Ezra Carr, offer a fascinating look at the legendary naturalist as a young man. Dispatched mostly from Yosemite Valley, where he was working as a sheep herder, they reveal the shaping of the philosophies that would later dominate Muir’s work.

A legend of the American West and the careful guardianship of the environment—as well as the freedom the natural world represents—Muir’s writings are must reading for anyone who appreciates the wild splendor of our planet.

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