Sunday 21 April 2013

The First Daffodil and a Stroll in the Woods on John Muir Day

The coast at Dunbar where John Muir learned to love Nature

On a blustery day of sunshine and showers, some of them of hail, the first daffodil came into flower in our wild garden, over a month later than last year. The winter really has lingered. On the bird feeders and the ground below them there are now flocks of chaffinches plus a few siskins, which we rarely saw during the winter. The various tits are less common now, presumably because there are more insects around. Red squirrels and great spotted woodpeckers still come every day.

The first daffodil, April 21

As appropriate on John Muir Day, the first ever in Scotland, on the 175th anniversary of his birth we went for a stroll in the local woods. Sheltered from the wind all was quiet under the trees. Spring has not arrived here, with no sign of green on the birches and larches. In the shallow pools that fill depressions in some of the old overgrown tracks pond skaters darted over the water and little black beetles scurried and dived. There was no frogspawn though; again a sign that spring has yet to really begin.

High above a buzzard wheeled, dark against the racing white clouds. The wind swelled and boomed in the treetops, a smooth, soothing sound. A few days ago it was raging and roaring, like a fierce sea pounding a rocky coast.

John Muir's birthplace, Dunbar
The Scottish Government are making John Muir a central part of the Year of Natural Scotland. They would be wise to read and understand his words and also consider an excellent article by Susan Wright of the John Muir Trust in today’s Sunday Herald newspaper. John Muir Day means nothing if nothing is done to conserve and protect wild places.

Statue of the young John Muir in Dunbar

In her article Susan Wright gives two of my favourite John Muir quotes: 

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

“Keep close to Nature's heart - and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods".

I’ll add a third.

“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 away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”


  1. We called in to the museum on our Lammermuir walks a couple of weeks ago. Well worth a visit and a good way to spend an hour +. It’s bigger than it seems from outside. Dunbar is also interesting in it’s own right.
    Glad winter is now ebbing. We need some sun.

  2. lovely words, saw my first swallows the other day. welcome back spring!!

  3. I spent a day in Dunbar a few years ago and enjoyed the town, Muir's Birth Place museum and the coastal scenery.

    No swallows up here yet. The weather is turning colder with snow down to low levels forecast for the end of the week. Winter hasn't given up yet!