Sitting in the white-paved pergola at Montecito. with overhead a leafy shelter of pink-flowered passifloras, looking out over the little lake, its surface dotted with water-lilies, its banks fringed with drooping shrubs and vines, the hum of the bee and the bird in the air—I looked down over a wonderful collection of nearly 200 rare palms and listened to the music that floated up from their waving branches like that of a thousand silken-stringed eolian harp; and there came into my mind visions of a people that shall be strong with the strength of great hills, calm with the calm of a fair sea, united as are at last the palm and the pine, mighty with the presence of God.
BELLE SUMNER ANGIER,
in The Garden Book of California.
THE GIANT SEQUOIAS.
O lofty giants of the elder prime!
How may the feeble lips, of mortal, rhyme
A measure fitted to thy statures grand,
As like a gathering of gods ye stand
And raise your solemn arms up to the skies,
While through your leaves pour Ocean’s symphonies!
What Druid lore ye know! What ancient rites—
Gray guardians of ten thousand days and nights,
Watching the stars swim round their sapphire pole,
The ocean surges break about earth’s brimming bowl.
The cyclone’s driving swirl, the storm-tossed seas.
Hymning for aye their myriad litanies!
* * * * *
What dawn of Life saw ye, Grand Prophets
What pristine years? What advents manifold?
When first the glaciers in their icy throes
Were grinding thy repasts; and feeding thee with snows?
What earthquake shocks? What changes of the sun?
While ye laughed down their wrack and builded on!
JOHN WARD STIMSON,
in Wandering Chords.
High above on the western cliff a giant head of cactus reared infernal arms and luminous bloom. One immense clump threw a shadow across the cliff road where it leaves the river plain and winds along the canyon to the mesa above the sea—the road over which in the old days the Mission Indians bore hides to the ships and flung them from the cliffs to the waiting boats below.
MARAH ELLIS RYAN,
in For the Soul of Rafael.
Distinct from all others, the sequoias are a race apart. The big-tree, and the redwood of the Coast Range, are the only surviving members of that ancient family, the giants of the fore-world. Their immense trunks might be the fluted columns of some noble order of architecture, surviving its builders like the marble temples of Greece—columns three hundred feet high and thirty feet through at the base. Such a vast nave, such majestic aisles, such sublime spires, only the forest cathedrals know. Symmetrical silver firs, giant cedars and spruce, grow side by side with sugar pines of vast and irregular outline, whose huge branches, like outstretched arms, hold aloft the splendid cones—such is the ancient wood.