“Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
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“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! To behold this alone is worth the pains of any excursion a thousand times over. The highest peaks burned like islands in a sea of liquid shade...The lakes seen from every ridge-top were brilliantly rippled and spangled, shimmering like the thicket of the low dwarf pines... I strode on exhilarated, as if never more to feel fatigue, limbs moving of themselves, every sense unfolding like the thawing flowers, to take part in the new day harmony.”
-- John Muir, Wilderness Essays (Peregrine Smith Books, 1980) -- writings from the 1870s
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Have you lately found yourself staring at the beautiful bright new green leaves that are everywhere now? A feast for the eyes, no? And such a welcome sight.
After several months of relatively barren trees, bushes, and ground, it’s a sensory pleasure to take in all the new vegetation that has re-emerged or unfolded.
From the smallest, barely-visible plants to the largest, most majestic trees, leaves have opened to soak in and photosynthesize sunlight, powering their cell growth.
And it’s a sometimes-forgotten fact that our lives are utterly dependent on that process, since most of our food comes from plants or animals that consume them.
Not to mention that the oxygen which sustains every breath we take is exhaled by plants. Without them – and all that oxygen -- our days would truly be numbered.
In the coming weeks, the bright new leaves will darken slightly, and their freshness will diminish just a bit as insects dine on them and “the elements” take a slight toll.
From any perspective, what leaves do is an impressive (miraculous, actually) process – converting sunlight to food, which human beings couldn’t begin to do.
Amid all the distractions of our world, it never hurts to occasionally stop to appreciate the vital sustenance we receive from plants and the natural world.
Opportunities for doing so are plentiful during the course of a walk in a local park, or a hike in the mountains, where gorgeous and inspiring greenery reigns supreme.
-- Charlie Cook