The Sierra Club’s 119th Birthday


Muir Beach, Calif.: Looking NNW 5/13/11

         This morning, my indispensable – for many more reasons than one – news feed, The Writer’s Almanac, reported, ‘On this day in 1892, John Muir founded the Sierra Club in San Francisco at the prompting of journalist Robert Underwood Johnson….’

           Well, happy 119th Sierra Club.  And, thank you.

           When I first encountered the Sierra Club in the early 70s, I was surprised, taken aback, by their staff’s passion, their willingness to fight on when others would compromise.  Over the past 23 years, I’ve gotten to know California.  Now I understand, I think.

           The ‘golden rolling hills of California’ of which Kate Wolf sang almost shock the consciousness.  The redwoods.  The mountains, the mountains….  And the ocean….

           For an easterner, there is something profoundly unsettling about California.  The hills have very different shapes from the ancient roll of the Appalachians. The Pacific smells different from the North Atlantic.

          California is the ultimate of instability:  giant Pacific storms, wildfires that darken the skies, earthquakes.  The land is new and continually renewing itself.  Somehow that very instability inspires fierce desires to preserve it.

           That is what the Sierra Club has fought for.  Join today, and wish them a very happy birthday.