Happy birthday, John Muir!

Muir study desk from Atlantic Monthly

John Muir’s study desk. Click for larger view and see link near end of post for Atlantic Monthly article on the desk and other Muir inventions.

Earth Day, April 22, follows by one day the birthday of John Muir, a great former Wisconsinite and one of my personal heroes.  A founder of the Sierra Club and one of the most influential nature writers in history, Muir is deeply tied to our state in many ways.

We’re reminded of this when we take in the visitor center at Schmeeckle Reserve or ramble around the Bascom Hill Historic District at UW-Madison (as my colleague Tim Halkowski did recently, posting a photo of a Muir marker — one of several Facebook posts he’s devoted to Muir over the past week). Here’s a little more about Muir’s ties to our state.

Muir, of course, loved to wander, so he’s a perfect figure to study during the “Words Are Roads: Yellowstone” tour this summer.  It’s hard not to be impressed with a guy who can walk from Indiana to Florida in a bit more than a month (thanks for that link too, Tim); the backstory to this walk is even more improbable than the walk itself.

It’s too easy to fill space writing about the Muir’s accomplishments, but I’ll leave that to others on his birthday. I  do hope all of my students this summer, if they aren’t already familiar with Muir, will be able to share my fascination with the man and his work.

For all students everywhere, however, it’s usually fun to consider what’s behind a guy who can invent both a book-opening study desk and a combination alarm clock and tilting bed.   Muir was definitely one creative Badger.

(edit: Muir’s birthday is not April 22 as I originally wrote.  My apologies for the error.)

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