The Mountains are Calling, and We Must Run

One day I stood in the Shawangunks and stared at the Catskills.  It was a cold winter day, and the distant mountains seemed carved out of blue crystal and white diamond.  I remember feeling a surge of adrenaline, as if I could at that moment head off and run the thirty miles from here to there, although the icy wind dissuaded me.

This experience made me think of John Muir’s famous line in an 1873 letter to his sister, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”  He used similar expressions in his account of his first summer in the Sierras, when during 1869 he accompanied a sheep herd into the mountains.  For example, when he first got high enough up in the foothills to look deep into the Merced Valley, he perceived “a glorious wilderness that seemed to be calling with a thousand songful voices.”  Similarly, his diary entry from July 8 of that year notes:  “Many still, small voices, as well as the noon thunder, are calling, ‘Come higher.'”  In fact, every aspect of the natural wilderness called to him:

How interesting everything is!  Every rock, mountain, stream, plant, lake, lawn, forest, garden, bird, beast, insect seems to call and invite us to come and learn something of its history and relationship.

Continue reading “The Mountains are Calling, and We Must Run”

The Mountains are Calling, and We Must Run

What’s a Totoro?

The acclaimed Japanese animated filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s 1988 classic My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of two young sisters who encounter friendly forest spirits in postwar rural Japan.  The film has won numerous awards, and the Totoro has been ranked among the most popular animated characters.

There are many reasons for the film’s success, including the carefully crafted animation, the endearing portrayal of the two sisters, the lush watercolor backgrounds, and the pastoral simplicity of the setting.  After watching the movie recently, I asked myself, what is a Totoro?  And what was Miyazaki’s purpose in creating this movie?

Continue reading “What’s a Totoro?”

What’s a Totoro?