Mark Twain, American Humorist, Born (1835)

November 30 sports a number of events that relate to conservation.  The Welland Canal first opened in 1829, allowing all sorts of environmental chaos to travel past the natural barrier of Niagara Falls.  Australia experienced its hottest November ever in 2014, a tribute to climate change.  The Paris Climate talks began on this date in 2015 (see the results on December 12, the day it ended).

Mark Twain

            But I’ve chosen to highlight Mark Twain’s birthday on November 30, 1835 (died 1910).  Mark Twain needs no introduction.  He was born in Missouri, lived most of his youth in the Mississippi riverbank town of Hannibal, and is most notably associated with the river and its immediate surroundings.  The world loves Twain for his humorous homespun stories, from The Adventures ofTom Sawyer to Huckleberry Finn to The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  Beyond humor, however, his writing was often satirical and sometimes cynical, about life and human nature.

            Twain was an adventurer as well as a writer.  He spent many years tramping, as he would say, around the U.S. and the world.  He travelled to Hawaii and across the American West, working as a travelling correspondent for various newspapers and magazines.  He wrote a collelction of stories of his western adventures in Roughing It. He spent years as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, and recounted his experiences in his book, Life on the Mississippi.  He also travelled around Europe and the Middle East.  His time in England was the basis for his magical tale of A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Illustration of Huck Finn and Jim from Mark Twain’s novel

            Let’s enjoy a few of the ideas that Mark Twain left us regarding nature and our relationship to it. 

“This is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and spirit.  To see the sun sink down, drowned in his pink and purple and golden floods, …is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.”

“Architects cannot teach nature anything.”

“The laws of Nature take precedence of all human laws. The purpose of all human laws is one — to defeat the laws of Nature. This is the case among all the nations, both civilized and savage. It is a grotesquerie, but when the human race is not grotesque it is because it is asleep and losing its opportunity.”

“Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.”

“Each season brings a world of enjoyment and interest in the watching of its unfolding, its gradual harmonious development, its culminating graces-and just as one begins to tire of it, it passes away and a radical change comes, with new witcheries and new glories in its train.”

“To one in sympathy with nature, each season, in its turn, seems the loveliest.”

“Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.”

References:

AZ Quotes.  Mark Twain Quotes About Nature.  Available at:  https://www.azquotes.com/author/14883-Mark_Twain/tag/nature.  Accessed December 3, 2019.

Mark Twain Quotes.  Nature.  Available at:  http://www.twainquotes.com/Nature.html.  Accessed December 3, 2019.

Quirk, Thomas V.  2019.  Mark Twain, American Writer.  Encyclopedia Britannica, Nov 11, 2019.  Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mark-Twain. Accessed December 3, 2019.

This Month in Conservation

January 1
NEPA Enacted (1970)
January 2
Bob Marshall Born (1901)
January 3
Canaveral National Seashore Created (1975)
January 4
The Real James Bond Born (1900)
January 5
National Bird Day
January 6
Wild Kingdom First Airs (1963)
January 7
Gerald Durrell Born (1925)
January 8
Alfred Russel Wallace Born (1823)
January 9
Muir Woods National Monument Created (1908)
January 10
National Houseplant Appreciation Day
January 11
Aldo Leopold Born (1887)
January 12
National Trust of England Established (1895)
January 13
MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady, Born (1935)
January 14
Martin Holdgate Born (1931)
January 15
British Museum Opened (1795)
January 16
Dian Fossey Born (1932)
January 17
Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Environmentalist, Born (1706)
January 18
White Sands National Monument Created (1933)
January 19
Yul Choi, Korean Environmentalist, Born (1949)
January 19
Acadia National Park Established (1929)
January 20
Penguin Appreciation Day
January 21
The Wilderness Society Founded (1935)
January 22
Iraq Sabotages Kuwaiti Oil Fields (1991)
January 23
Sweden Bans CFCs in Aerosols (1978)
January 24
Baden-Powell Publishes “Scouting for Boys” (1908)
January 25
Badlands National Park Established (1939)
January 26
Benjamin Franklin Disses the Bald Eagle (1784)
January 27
National Geographic Society Incorporated (1888)
January 28
Bermuda Petrel, Thought Extinct for 300 Years, Re-discovered (1951)
January 29
Edward Abbey, author of “Desert Solitaire,” Born (1927)
January 30
England Claims Antarctica (1820)
January 31
Stewart Udall, Secretary of Interior, Born (1920)
January February March April May June July August September October November December