Going to the Forest


U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and John Muir (right), on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.
By Underwood & Underwood, via Wikimedia Commons

Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at the life and work of John Muir. Muir had a major influence on environmental movements around the world. His beautiful writing brought many people outside.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I'm Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

"Keep close to Nature's heart... break away from your life and climb a mountain or spend a week in the forest. Wash your spirit clean."

Voice 1

These are the words of John Muir. John Muir was an American writer and naturalist - he was particularly interested in learning about natural places. Through his writing, he shared his love of wild places. But his most important work was in protecting those places for all people. Today's Spotlight is on John Muir.

Voice 2

Muir lived in the late 1800s. At this time there were also many writers who believed that wild natural places were necessary. They believed that people needed to experience nature. And they were studying the importance of natural environments.

Voice 1

But Muir wrote in a different way. He compared the forests to beautiful Christian churches. He wrote about the mountains as divine - like God. He spoke about the glory of natural light. This spiritual side of his writing appealed to many readers. He was able to describe the beauty of wild places in fresh ways. His writing has inspired many generations of people to fall in love with nature.

Voice 2

Muir was born in 1838. Muir's father was the leader of a Christian church. His father would require long hours of studying the Bible. But unlike his father, Muir looked to the natural world to understand God. Muir did not like to sit still. He wanted time outside, instead of studying in his house.

Voice 1

As a young man, Muir invented many things - including a device to push him out of bed in the morning. He showed these devices at a state event. Because of this, he met a woman who would influence him later in life. Her name was Jeanne Carr. Mrs. Carr encouraged Muir to go to college. There, he studied biology and geology - the world of plants and of rocks. He left school before finishing a degree. But he would continue this study for the rest of his life. And he continued to share his ideas and observations with Mrs. Carr in letters. She was an important encouragement to this work.

Voice 2

After college, Muir used his skill with inventing in several factories. He was successful and popular in this work. But then, in 1867, he had a terrible accident. He was using a tool and it moved suddenly out of his hand. He hurt his eye very badly. He had to live in a dark room for six weeks to heal. And he worried that he would become completely blind. This experience forced him to think about the direction of his life. He decided to follow his dreams and study nature. He wrote,

Voice 3

"This terrible time has driven me to the sweet fields. God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us."

Voice 1

So, in September of 1867, Muir began walking. He would walk 1,000 miles - nearly 1600 kilometres. He started in the state of Indiana and walked south, all the way to Florida. He later wrote a book about it called "A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf." He avoided cities and roads. Instead, he walked the most wild paths possible.

Voice 2

His plan was to take a boat from Florida to South America and continue walking. However, he became sick with malaria in Florida. Instead, he travelled across the country to California.

Voice 1

He arrived in California in March of 1868. He spent a week in Yosemite Valley. This is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. It has high, snow covered mountains. And it has deep green valleys and forests. At that time, very few people had seen this place. During this week, Muir fell in love with this beautiful place. He wrote,

Voice 3

"No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite... The best of all special temples of Nature."

Voice 1

Muir lived in the valley for several years. He had small jobs, including caring for sheep, and cutting trees. He also built a small house to live in. He built it close to a very small river. This way, he could always hear the sound of water. He also wrote about the Yosemite Valley. He described the beauty of the area. He made scientific observations of the plants and mountains. And he also began to write about the need to protect the valley.

Voice 2

In 1903 Muir was visited by President Theodore Roosevelt. They walked together and discussed the value of this natural environment. Muir talked to Roosevelt about protecting the area, as a wild place. Roosevelt then asked Muir to show him the wild parts of Yosemite. The two men stayed out in the wild for the night. In the morning, new snow covered them.

Voice 1

This trip with the president was very important. Roosevelt knew that this beautiful place needed to be protected. The experience led to the development of the National Parks system in the United States. These natural places are protected for people to use and enjoy - the goal that Muir shared with Roosevelt. Muir is often known as the Father of the National Parks. He wrote,

Voice 3

"God has cared for these trees, saved them from times without rain, disease, heavy snow, and a thousand storms and floods. But he cannot save them from fools."

Voice 2

Muir also started the Sierra Club. This organization continues to be an important conservation organization in the United States. They work with government, and other organizations to protect natural spaces. They also work to improve the environment by fighting pollution.

Voice 1

Later in life, Muir married and had children. He worked on his father-in-law's farm. But he could not stay in his house for too long. His wife would send him back to the forests. He had a warm, safe place to live, but he said that the wilderness was his real "home." He wrote,

Voice 3

"The mountains are calling and I must go."

Voice 2

Muir continued his work in protecting natural places for the rest of his life. And he continued to write. He wrote 12 books, and more than 300 shorter stories. This work continues to encourage people to continue his work today.

Voice 3

"Every person needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and spirit."

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Johanna Poole. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called 'Going to the Forest'.

Voice 2

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

What do you do to renew your energy and spirit? Walk in the woods? Listen to music?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
NightlyOwl
said on June 11, 2012

Truly, nature is the main thing in our world. We are doing cruelly, and sometimes nature repays us in the same coin. I love nature and always felt a close connection with it. I live outside the city. There is peace and quiet; a lot of forest in which the birds sing. When I return home from work, I feel calm and enjoy the tranquility of the place.

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Dela
said on June 18, 2012

I also love nature very much, the forest, the mountains.It is sure, nature helps us fight against trouble, suffering our life brings. Natural scenery inserts in our soul peace and new force to tread continuously on our path.All people must protect and save these beautiful places! Thank for interesting article!

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Lee Bach
said on August 03, 2017

Thank you so much !

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Vitalya
said on October 29, 2017

A wonderful story, it was very nice to listen to.
On our site the best stories.

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kenhieuloilam
said on February 20, 2020

Nature is fresh and nature is beautiful. Nature has four seasons and each season has its own beauty. Our lives have joy, sadness, happiness and suffering. We grow up along with month years and we mature along with month years. The flowers are beautiful in the sunshine. Life has beauties. Human life with nature is beautiful. Nature can bring human life beautiful good things. Nature is fresh and nature is beautiful. Nature has four seasons and each season has its own beauty. We protect nature. We protect beauties.

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Honneur
said on February 21, 2020

Very good program. Each time I read another Spotlight program, I improve my knowledge of the English language and the behavior of men. What moves a man to leave his home and go to the forest, surrounded by great threats like snakes, bears, storms and others?
Muir’s example was very important not only for the United States environment, but also for other countries with similar concerns ...

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Lam Hoang
said on March 28, 2020

Thank you very much.
I spent more than 1 month to finish this lesson.