I grew up in Indianapolis, hearing mention at family gatherings of a close friendship between a Civil War nurse ancestor and the not-yet- famous environmentalist, John Muir. They met just after the War. He was working as a factory foreman. She helped him recover from a grisly industrial accident that left him temporarily blind. But it wasn’t until adulthood that I realized the significance of the episode. For Muir, it was an existential crossroads. And his before-and- after experience mirrors the industrialized debacle of our world today. The recovery of an ecological vision from the blindness of Consumerism.
Back in Indianapolis, family lore also rumored that in 1886 the nurse’s college-student niece was caught kissing the president of Indiana University and to avoid a scandal, she was sent to lie low at John Muir’s ranch in California.
Musing on such stories over the years, I slowly hatched a scheme for a tragicomic novel that recasts Muir’s saga as the quixotic, cross-country journey of a contemporary Everyperson. Until recent current events began overtaking the climate-fiction side of the novel at an alarming rate.