If a certain assemblage of trees, of mountains, of waters, and of houses that we call a landscape is beautiful, it is not because of itself, but through me, through my own indulgence, through the thought or the sentiment that I attach to it
We recognize defeated landscapes by the absence of pleasure from them.
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.
root, a stem, a leaf, some means of capturing sunlight and air and making food -- in some, a plant. The green substance of the earth, the chlorophyll, is all summed up in the plants. Without them we perish, all of us who are flesh and blood
Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness. Britain won its wars on the playing fields of Eton. America developed its mettle at the muddy gaps of the Cumberlands, in the swift rapids of its rivers, on the limitless reaches of its western plains, in the silent vastness of primeval forests, and in the blizzard-ridden passes of the Rockies and Coast ranges.
These are islands in time -- with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind. In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.
There is not as much wilderness out there as I wish there were. There is more inside than you think
The beauty of nature includes all that is called beautiful, as its flower, and all that is not called beautiful, as its stalk and roots. Indeed, when I go to the woods or the fields, or a send to the hilltop, I do not seem to be gazing upon beauty at all, but to be breathing it like the air. I am not dazzled or astonished; I am in no hurry to look lest it be gone. I would not have the litter and debris removed, or at the bands trimmed, or the ground painted. What I enjoy is commensurate with the earth and sky itself. It clings to the rocks and trees; it is kindred to the roughness and savagery; it arises from every tangle and chasm; it perches on the dry oakstubs with the hawks and buzzards; the crows shed it from their wings and weave it in to their nests of coarse sticks; the fox barks it, the cattle low it, and every mountain path leads to its haunts. I am not a spectator of, but a participator in it. It is not an adornment; its roots strike to the centre of the earth.
If we are to have broad-thinking men and women of high mentality, of good physique and with a true perspective on life, we must allow our populace a communion with nature in areas of more or less wilderness condition.
There is a limit to the number of lands of shoreline on the lakes; there is a limit to the number of lakes in existence; there is a limit to the mountainous area of the world, and... there are portions of natural scenic beauty which are God-made and... which of a right should be the property of all people.
I held a blue flower in my hand, probably a wild aster, wondering what its name was, and then thought that human names for natural things are superfluous. Nature herself does not name them. The important thing is to know this flower, look at its color until the blends becomes as real as a keynote of music. Look at the exquisite yellow flowerettes at the center, become very small with them. Be the flower, be the trees, the blowing grasses. Fly with the birds, jump with a squirrel!
The shore is an ancient world, for as long as there has been an earth and sea there has been this place of the meeting of land and water. Yet it is a world that keeps alive the sense of continuing creation and of the relentless drive of life. Each time that I enter it, I gain some new awareness of its beauty and its deeper meanings, sensing that intricate fabric of life by which one creature is linked with another, and each with its surroundings... There is a common thread that links these scenes and memories -- the spectacle of life in all its varied manifestations as it has appeared, evolved, and sometimes died out. Underlying the beauty of the spectacle there is meaning and significance. It is the elusiveness of that meaning that haunts us, that sends us again and again into the natural world where the key to the riddle is hidden. It sends us back to the edge of the sea, where the drama of life played its first scene on earth and perhaps even its prelude; where the forces of evolution are at work today, as they have been since the appearance of what we know as life; and where the spectacle of living creatures faced by the cosmic realities of their world is crystal clear.
The earth's vegetation is part of a web of life in which there are intimate and essential relations between plants and the earth, between plants and other plants, between plants and animals. Sometimes we have no choice but to disturb these relationships, but we should do so thoughtfully, with full awareness that what we do may have consequences remote in time and place.
The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it... It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust
Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up, as did men of another age, to the challenge of nature. Modern man lives in a highly synthetic kind of existence. He specializes in this and that. Rarely does he test all his powers or find himself whole. But in the hills and on the water the character of a man comes out.
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.
That wonderful world of high mountains, dazzling in their rock and ice, acts as a catalyst. It suggests the infinite but it is not the infinite. The heights only give us what we ourselves bring them
The tallgrass prairie dazzles the eye with an unending array of blooming plants, and this spectacle, with some seventeen new species coming into bloom each week, lasts from March until October. The tallgrasses themselves, big bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, and cordgrass, to name the common ones, are the most powerful, the most expansive, the most majestic of all the prairie plants; they are the redwoods of the prairie.
Dandelions are the supreme symbol of the failure of human control, a yellow flag of mockery, and every time we burned that flag, back it comes, stronger than ever. No plants or animal is as obstinately perverse in its flaunting of human wishes.
Land is immortal, for its harbors the mysteries of creation.
No land is bad, but land is worse. If a man owns land, the land owns him. Now let him leave home, if he dare.
Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds have no title.
Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awakened people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds; do not overload them. Put there just a spark. If there is some good flammable stuff, it will catch fire.
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