"When I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild ... I loved to wander in the fields to hear the birds sing, and along the shore to gaze and wonder at the shells and the seaweeds, eels and crabs in the pools when the tide was low; and best of all to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of old Dunbar Castle." ~ John Muir
These memories of John Muir’s childhood in Scotland speak to the deep love he had for nature at a very early age. His father was very strict, forcing him to memorize large portions of the Bible, which caused Muir to become an eloquent and persuasive writer later in life when he fought for the establishment of National Parks. This closeness with the scriptures contributed to a development of deep spiritual love for nature in Muir that is echoed throughout his work. The young Muir became interested in wildlife, especially the wilderness of America, and spent hours pouring over books on the subject. He was eleven when his parents moved to the United States, where he spent the remainder of his youth on his parents' farm. In his early twenties he briefly attended the University of Wisconsin where he studied geology and botany. At twenty nine, after he was temporarily blinded in a factory accident, he set out on a trip to Florida and Cuba. The 1,000-mile walk was the beginning of his incessant nature explorations. A year later Muir traveled to the west coast and Yosemite.
"In Dunbar he saw birds on the flyway from the Arctic to Africa, stopping over by the hundreds of thousands. That was his first introduction to wild nature. In Wisconsin, birds and aquatic life in the wetlands as well as deer and other forest creatures caught his interest. He was also very astute at observing the minute—insects, amphibians, and the smallest of land animals."
~ William Swagerty Personal email interview