It’s my birthday! I love birthdays – both mine and other people’s. It’s the one day of the year that seems like your own personal holiday. I always try to take the day off to do whatever I feel like, to indulge in the things that fill me with joy, and to reflect on my life and what makes me “me”. This invariably means that I am spending time outdoors.
For years, I was tormented by the fact that my birthday is one day before Earth Day. It seemed like some kind of cruel joke that I should be born with such an intense enthusiasm for nature just shy of this designated day of love and reverence for the earth.
But then I discovered that I share a birthday with John Muir – conservationist, nature writer, and above all – nature enthusiast extraordinaire. Of all the writers and naturalists, John Muir resonates with me the most. I like to think that some part of John Muir was instilled in me when I was born, filling me with continual wonder and amazement at this remarkable world we live in.
For the record, I am having a wonderful birthday. Rob and I spent the morning canoeing through the tidal channels of the Herring River in Harwich (Cape Cod). Salt water marshes are one of my favorite wonders of the world. Even this time of year, when the marsh looks like a brown sea of matted grass and mud, there are so many signs that it is teeming with life. Clusters of muscles with perfectly ridged shells, and lumpy rock-like oysters appear in clumps along the marsh edges. Wadding birds such as willets are camouflaged against the dull browns of the marsh grass, but even so, spikes of new growth can be seen starting to sprout upward. An osprey nest towers above, and soaring beneath it, its owner scans the water for food.
Now, the sun is getting low in the sky, draping everything in a blanket of gold. I’m sitting outside near a tidal cove watching and listening several dozen birds as they flit around in search of food. Their feathers are such a soft array of tan, brown and gold, and their tiny feet and beaks are nothing short of perfection as the hop and peck, flutter, and cock their delightful little heads.
Just now, a rabbit hopped directly in front of me. I can almost feel how soft and silky her fur is as she nibbles on the fresh new plant growth. As I watch the tender shoots disappear into her mouth, I’m filled with complete love for this fellow being.
I guess it’s about time to head in and get cleaned up for dinner, but as I reflect back on the day, the year, and my life in general, I’d just like to take a moment to reflect on John Muir and the inspiration he has give me, so I leave you with these words:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir