Meera Subramanian: The man is lying flat on his back, staring at the sky, four thousand miles from the place of his birth. Not even thirty years old, he is in his second month of recuperation from a disease that nearly took his life. He is thinking, among other things, about the happiness of alligators. It is December 1867, and most would not put the words alligator and happiness in the same sentence, especially on the Gulf shores of Florida where he lies, on his back, among the juniper, long-leafed pine and live oak, staring up at the sky.

In a month, John Muir will head west to San Francisco and ask for directions to “anywhere wild,” and his already well-developed love affair with the natural world will find a unique focus in the Yosemite Valley…

Continue reading at Killing the Buddha.