National Parks

Yesterday we finished watching a documentary by Ken Burns: National Parks– America’s Best Idea. It shows the history of the National Park system, the creation of parks and how they connect to the American identity. I knew that Beloved had traveled across the US with his parents as a kid, visiting many of the oldest parks – I had no idea that this is a bit of a tradition, or so the documentary told me. As the stories became more personal, near the end of the final episode, both of us teared up a little. So many people have been inspired by these awesome places.

I’ve only been in Shenandoah, so far, but I plan on seeing many more parks. The American idea of nature is unknown in Europe, and it is hard to understand how the parks can unite people from every race and class, bringing them together in a surrounding so majestic that it invites unity. I look forward to experiencing more of this, hoping it can help me become American in the best sense of the word.

The series hinges almost entirely on the words of naturalists, philosophers and authors – especially John Muir is extremely important to the documentary, as well as to the parks. So, I was overjoyed when I received a book by his hand for my birthday, last Sunday. The book itself is gorgeous (a hardback, nostalgic type and page setting), but the words must be even better. I plan on taking it with me whenever I visit a park about which he wrote, so that I can see the things that inspired and that are so incredibly important to the country to which I will belong, at some point.

A quote (because it fits):

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.”

–John Muir

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