Monday, September 28, 2009

The Beauty of the Spheres

Magnet # 48:  Grand Teton Landscape Photo

Material:  Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

PBS premiered Ken Burn's new film, The National Parks:  America's Best Idea yesterday.  It was the first two hours of a whopping twelve hours so, if you missed it, there's plenty more left to be seen.

Last night's segments focused on Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the very beginning of the National Park Service.  I learned that the word Yosemite actually means "they are killers."  The men who named the park thought it was the name of the Indians who once lived there, but it was actually what they called their enemies.  John Muir, the adventurous, eccentric naturalist and author whose efforts were so critical to the creation of the National Park System, was also featured.  He came to Yosemite almost by accident and was hired by James Hutchings, a dubious man who was exploiting the area with an inn and, later, a sawmill.  His work there connected Muir to Yosemite and all nature for the rest of his life, later inspiring him to fight to keep the National Parks protected and pass his passion to a younger generations that could continue his work and share his love.  The show was very interesting and so nicely done.  If you didn't see it, it's worth checking out in the days to come.  And no, the Grand Teton National Park wasn't mentioned, but it may yet be featured.

I've visited very few National Parks, but in examining my magnet collection and starting this blog, I've become much more interested in them.  It doesn't help that growing up in Alabama, there were no National Parks in either the state or nearby Georgia or Mississippi.  The closest, of course, was The Great Smoky Mountains, a six hour drive away.  As I mentioned, I visited those several times.  And I likewise saw Mammoth Caves and Yosemite as a child.  But we didn't really travel out west that much, or to other areas that have National Parks, so I haven't had that much exposure to them.  I think I'd like to see more of these beautiful, even sacred, areas, especially now that I have a better appreciation of the struggles that went into creating and preserving them.

The title of Burn's program refers to Teddy Roosevelt's comment that the National Parks is "America's Best Idea."  It is amazing that, in the history of the world, we were the first country to set aside land for the people alone.  It was an idea that caught on worldwide, and now there is not one continent (excluding Antarctica) without National Parks.  It's a truly American concept and is among the best global influences we can claim. 


  1. Thanks for steering me to the PSB National Parks series. I've visited many of the parks and this is a great reminder of their beauty and history. It also makes me want to see more and return to favorites.

  2. You're welcome! Now that the series is all finished up, I can say I'm truly impressed with their work. I really like how they featured both famous folks like John Muir, Ansel Adams, and the Presidents Roosevelt along with everyday people who loved the parks that most of us had never heard of before.