Michael is a professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Fresno Pacific University, and he put 10 years into researching, writing, and photographing Muir’s Temples. The book’s title is a reference to naturalist John Muir calling our nearby sequoia groves “God’s first temples.” (I thought about making a joke about the book being about the area of John Muir’s skull, just behind his eyes, but that would be stupid.)
Michael is a lifelong Californian, growing up in Palo Alto, Clovis, and Visalia. He was a member of the Peace Corps in Swaziland and has traveled to many amazing places following his love for the study of nature and its systems. If you hike, you might very well have run into Michael on a nearby trail with a class of Fresno Pacific students in tow, where he inspires their love of nature and learning. For example, he’ll take a group of students to the San Joaquin River Gorge and have them identify 30 wildflowers (don’t you wish you could go back to school?).
The King of California trees
Here in the Fresno area, we are so lucky to live near the “King of California trees,” as Muir called the Giant Sequoia. I’ve had a few occasions to take visitors up to see their first sequoia. The looks on their faces are priceless. Walking among these ancient beings gives me the same feeling as looking into the vastness of the stars in space. It is humbling. I think it’s a healthy state of mind to be in awe and wonder.
Michael’s beautifully photographed book will make any reader an expert on the natural history of this special place and ecosystem, the home of our ancient neighbors, the Giant Sequoias. Muir’s Temples is filled with carefully selected quotes from Muir. I find the book and subject matter to be very approachable—it’s a perfect read for anyone who loves our Sierra Nevada mountains.
I’ve been a frequent hiker in Redwood Canyon, and am an appreciative wanderer in the ferns, dogwoods, and big trees. But my knowledge is quite limited. I am eager to get back up there with Michael’s book in my backpack and really start learning about this place in more depth.
Book signing details
Michael’s talk will take place from 1-3 p.m. at Petunia’s Place, 6027 N. Palm Ave. in Fresno (yes, they’re a children’s bookstore but they also feature local books).
This is a great opportunity to learn more about this incredible place that we call home, maybe buy a copy of Muir’s Temples for your favorite amateur naturalist, and support a local author and locally owned bookstore (Nov. 25 is also Small Business Saturday, so support this rare independent and buy some other books, too).
If you are unable to attend the event, you can purchase Michael’s book here.