Byways Around San Francisco Bay
William E. Hutchinson
Produced by Sandra Brown and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: ON THE ROAD TO STRAWBERRY CANON]
BYWAYS AROUND SAN FRANCISCO BAY
BY W. E. HUTCHINSON
ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR
THE DEAREST YET SEVEREST
Sunset in the Golden Gate (Poem)
Brook and Waterfall
Mountain and Valley
Canon and Hillside
Autumn Days (Poem)
Around the Camp Fire
Trout Fishing in the Berkeley Hills
On the Beach
San Francisco Bay (Poem)
In a Glass-bottom Boat
Fog on the Bay
The Stake and Rider Fence (Poem)
The Song of the Reel (Poem)
The Old Road
On the Road to Strawberry Canon
The Laughter of the Brook
Brook and Waterfall
The Turn of the Trail
Mountain and Valley
Sunshine and Shadow
Canon and Hillside
The Bottom of the Canon
The Trout's Paradise
Fishing for Brook Trout
They have Stood the Storms of Centuries
Sea Gull Rock
Among the Redwoods
A Chinese Shoemaker
The Breaking Waves
The Glass-bottom Boat
Fog on the Bay
Italian Fishing Boats
Drying the Nets
The Witchery of Moonlight
An Uninterrupted View
Where the Shadows are Dark
On Bear Creek
The Old Road
It Climbs the Hill for a Broader View
Sunset in the Golden Gate
When day is done there falls a solemn hush:
The birds are silent in their humble nest.
Then comes the Master Artist with his brush,
And paints with brilliant touch the golden west.
The blended colors sweep across the sky,
And add a halo at the close of day.
Their roseate hues far-reaching banners fly,
And gild the restless waters of the bay.
Mount Tamalpais stands in purple 'tire
Against the background, Phoenixlike, ornate:
Apollo drives his chariot of fire
Between the portals of the Golden Gate.
No other hand than His who rules on high,
Could wield the brush and spread such bright array
Upon the outstretched canvas of the sky,
Then draw the curtain of departing day.
Brook and Waterfall
California, the land of sunshine and roses, with its genial climate,
its skies as blue as the far-famed skies of Venice, and its pure
life-giving air, invites the lover of nature to take long tramps over
hill and dale, mountain and valley, and to search out new trails in
the rugged mountains.
It is a common sight to see parties of men and women meet at the ferry
building, dressed in khaki suits, with knapsacks strapped on their
backs, waiting to take the boat across the bay to some of the numerous
places of interest. There are plenty to choose from, but most of them
go to the same places over and over, instead of searching out
unfrequented nooks that give one a feeling of proprietorship when
discovered. It is an old saying, and a trite one, that "Familiarity
breeds contempt." It is certainly true, however, that we often pass
over the familiar and commonplace to go into raptures over some lofty
mountain peak, ignoring the gems that lie hidden away at its very
There is a quiet beauty in the broad sweep of the valley, a stately
majesty in the towering mountains, a restful grandeur in the rounded
domes of the tree-clad hills, and an element of strength in the broad
sweep of the ocean. One never tires of watching the constant change of
light and shade, for they never appear twice alike. But we are in
search of unfrequented nooks, the byways that others pass unnoticed,
so we leave the prominent to seek out the obscure.
To enjoy the out-of-doors at its best one needs a congenial companion;
one who does not tire on the trail nor find fault with the little
annoying things that are bound to occur on a long journey, but who, in
the silent contemplation of God's handiwork, best expresses his
appreciation of its wonderful beauty in silence; for there are times
when silent enjoyment of a landscape produces a subtle interchange of
thought that speaks louder than words.
Such a one is Hal, more like a brother than a son, and in winding over
tortuous trails and climbing the rugged sides of mountains we have
become good comrades; bound together by the invisible tie of "Nature
Lovers" and the "Call of the Wild," as well as the greater bond of
One could not begin to tell of the pleasure derived from these rambles
over valley and mountain, not to speak of the health-giving exercise
in the open air. They are far better than doctors' prescriptions, for
they drive the cobwebs from the brain, bring refreshing slumber, a new
light to the eye, elasticity to the step, and keep one young in
spirit, if not in years.
[Illustration: THE LAUGHTER OF THE BROOK]
It was a bright June morning when Hal and I took the ferryboat for
Sausalito, then by train to Mill Valley. It was just cool enough to
make walking a pleasure, and after the clamor of the city the somber
shadows of the forest, with its solitude, seemed like a benediction.
On every side the giant redwoods tower hundreds of feet in air,
straight and imposing, while the ground, on which the pine needles and
crumbling bark have formed a brown mold, is as soft and springy to the
tread as a velvet carpet.
The resinous, aromatic odor of the pines, combined with the fresh
woodsy fragrance, is like a tonic. Just ahead of us we see a growth of
manzanitas, with their smooth purple-brown bark and pinkish white
flowers in crowded clusters, standing out vividly against the
background of oaks and firs, and we sink knee-deep amid the ferns and
blue and yellow lupine. It seems almost sacrilegious to trample these
exquisite violet-hooded flowers beneath our feet.
Close to the trail a little mountain brook sings merrily over its
pebbly bed, dodging in and out among the rocks, or chuckling in glee
as it dashes in mimic fury over some unseen obstacle, as if it were
playing hide and seek with the shadows along the bank. And we stop to
rest and listen with pleasure to the music of its woodland melody. A
song sparrow joins in the chorus with his quaint sweet lullaby, like
the tinkling of Venetian glass, his notes as clear and delicate as a
silver bell. He evidently believes that singing lightens his labors,
for he is industriously gathering material for the new home he is
building close at hand aided by his demure mate, who, in reality, does
most of the work.
[Illustration: BROOK AND WATERFALL]
The trail grows steeper and harder to climb as we ascend. We hear the
sound of falling water ahead of us, and around a bend in the path, and
through an opening in the trees, we come upon a beautiful waterfall
pouring over the rocks like a bridal veil.
We drop our cameras and scramble down the rocks, drinking cup in hand,
and slake our thirst at this crystal fountain. Was ever a more
delightful draught for thirsty mortals than from this little pool
hidden away here in this mountain fastness? It is a place in which
druids and wood-nymphs might revel, surrounded on all sides by stately
trees and moss-grown rocks, fringed with ferns of all kinds, from the
delicate maidenhair to the wide-spreading shield variety, bordered
with blue and gold lupine (California's colors), and close to the
falls, a bush thickly covered with white flowering dogwood blossoms,
standing out like a rare painting against the green-and-brown
background--a spot to thrill the soul of an artist. Yet how many had
ever found this sylvan retreat, hidden away, as it is, from the main
Mountain and Valley
It is hard for us to leave the falls with all their surrounding
beauty, and with reluctance we take one last look at this delightful
glen planted in the heart of the wilderness, and strike out on the
At a turn in the path, where it seems as if we were about to walk off
into space, we get a glimpse through the trees of Mount Tamalpais.
Towering above us with its seam-scarred sides, rent and torn by the
storms of centuries, it rears its jagged dome amid the clouds. We can
just make out a train of diminutive cars winding a tortuous course in
and out around the curves, the toy engine fighting every inch of the
steep incline, and panting like an athlete with Herculean efforts to
reach the summit. Across the intervening space a hawk wheels and turns
in ever-widening circles. We watch him through the glass, rising
higher and higher with each successive sweep, until he fades into a
mere speck in the distant blue.
Up we climb, until another view discloses the valley below us like a
panorama. We creep out to the very edge, and for miles in either
direction it stretches away, as if some giant hand had cleaved for
himself a pathway between the mountains. We stand spellbound,
entranced by the wonderful beauty of the scene, and drink long
draughts of the fresh mountain air.
The dazzling splendor of the noonday sun brings out vividly the
variegated colors of the foliage, and banks of white fleecy clouds
floating overhead trail their shadows over the valley and up the
mountainside like ghostly outriders. The pointed tops of the fir
trees, miles below us, look like stunted shrubbery; the buildings in
Mill Valley seem like dolls' houses nestling among the trees; while
far in the distance the blue waters of the bay glisten in the
sunshine, Alcatraz Island rises out of its watery bed, and San
Francisco stands silhouetted against the distant hills.
We are lost in wonder at the grand spectacle spread out before us; it
is a very fairyland of enchantment, as if brought into being by the
genii of Aladdin. For nearly an hour we watch the lights and shadows
flicker over the valley, the high lights in sharp contrast to the deep
dark purples of the canon.
On the far side of the valley the sloping hills are covered with that
most exquisite flower, the California poppy, its countless millions of
golden blossoms fairly covering the earth. It is a sun worshiper, for
not until the warm sun kisses its golden head does it wake from its
slumbers and throw open its tightly rolled petals. No wonder the
Spanish mariners sailing along the coast and seeing these golden
flowers covering the hills like a yellow carpet called this "The Land
of Fire." This beautiful flower is one of California's natural
wonders--"Copa-de-oro"--cup of gold. It is as famed in the East as in
the West, and thousands come to California to see it in its prodigal
beauty. Steps should quickly be taken to conserve this wild splendor,
and restrictions should be put upon the vandals, who, not content with
picking what they can use to beautify the home, tear them up by the
roots just to see how large an armful they can gather, scattering
their golden petals to the four winds of heaven when they begin to
[Illustration: The Turn of the Trail]
An old dead pine, whitened by many storms, its gnarled and twisted
branches pathetic in their shorn splendor, is brought into prominence
by the background of vivid green into which it seems to shrink, as if
to hide its useless naked skeleton.
But the lengthening shadows in the valley warn us to begin our
descent, and as we have no desire to sleep out on the trail without
blankets or other camp comforts, we begin our return trip by another
route. Light wisps of fog begin to gather around the top of Mount
Tamalpais, and we hasten our steps, for to be caught in a fog at this
altitude may mean a forced camp, with all its attending
[Illustration: MOUNTAIN AND VALLEY]
We pause for a moment on the margin of a little lake nestling amid the
hills, its blue waters, unruffled by the wind in its sheltered nook,
reflecting back as in a mirror the trees that surround it on all
sides. But we may not linger to drink in the beauty of this quiet
spot, where the red deer once slaked their thirst at its quiet margin,
standing kneedeep in the rushes and lilypads.
Ahead of us a blue jay, that tattler of the woods, flashes his blue
coat in and out among the trees; always saucy, impertinent, and
suspicious, bubbling over with something important to tell, and afraid
he will not be the first to tell it. When he discovers us watching, he
sets up his clamorous cry of "Thief! Thief!" and hurries away to
spread the alarm. A mighty borrower of trouble, this gayly dressed
harlequin of the woods, and yet the forest would not seem complete
without his gay blue vestments.
Suddenly we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac; the trail coming to an
abrupt end. We retrace our steps, and after much searching, find a
narrow trail almost hidden by vines and underbrush. Venturing in, we
follow its tortuous and uneven course along the edge of the canon,
and, as the evening shadows gather, and the stars come out one by one,
tired and dust-covered, we reach the valley, and enjoy the moonlight
ride across the bay to San Francisco.
Canon and Hillside
Did you ever see the Berkeley hills in the early morning, just before
the sun comes stealing over their rounded domes, or in the evening,
just before it sinks beneath the waters of the bay, and casts its
waning light over their rugged sides?
There never was a more pleasing sight than their uneven profile
sharply drawn against the grayish purple. Watch them as they gradually
assume shape out of the decreasing shadows. The blotches of green and
brown take form and grow into canons and gullies, rocks and towers,
domes and minarets. What a place to build a mosque, and say one's
prayers to the rising sun!
Near the Greek Theater, which pushes its vast amphitheater into the
heart of the hills, winds a canon, not large and imposing, but very
beautiful. It is called by some, after the policy of the University of
California, through whose domain it runs, "Co-ed Canon"; by others,
from the abundance of charming blossoms and luscious fruit found upon
its rugged sides, "Strawberry Canon." But "What's in a name?" By any
other it would be as pleasing.
Trees, gnarled and twisted, reach out their arms across the little
brook that sings merrily at the bottom. Far into the hills it pushes
its winding way, and one must needs scramble over many a fallen tree
and mossy rock in following its beautiful path.
One cannot see very far ahead, but at each succeeding turn in the
trail new wonders open before us. Here it is so narrow we are
compelled to walk in single file, while just beyond it broadens out
into a grassy slope, and through an open vista on the right we get a
glimpse of Old Grizzly looming up in all its grandeur. To the left,
far above us on the hillside, we can see a large cement "C" some
thirty feet in length, placed there by the students of the university
to commemorate hotly contested games of football between the two
colleges. With what jealous care is it watched over on the eve of a
battle to keep the contesting team from painting it with their college
In this canon we find that pest of nature-lovers who are susceptible
to it, the poison oak. For all its sinister effects, it is a charming
shrub so far as appearance goes, with its bright, glossy serrated
leaves; but do not invite a too familiar acquaintance, for it is a
shrub to be admired at a distance.
[Illustration: SUNSHINE AND SHADOW]
At a path that seems quite accessible we climb out of the canon, and
strike out across the hills. We stop for a moment's rest at a fence,
and while we are filling our lungs with the crisp morning air we see
where a spider has industriously spun his web during the night, from a
stalk of ragweed to the fence corner. The dew has settled upon it and
each silken thread stands out perfectly, shining in the morning
sunshine like some old jewelry made of filagree silver. You little
realize, you tiny spinner of silken fabrics, how easily your gauzy
structure may be broken, and all your work come to naught; for on the
fence a catbird, scolding incessantly, has one eye open for a stray
titbit in the shape of a little weaver of webs, and you may help to
make him an early breakfast.
The meadow larks are sending out their cheery "Spring o' the year"
from fence rail and covert, a song most sweet and inspiring. A flock
of blackbirds goes sailing past, and high overhead a killdee's
plaintive cry echoes over the valley. From here we get a beautiful
view of the bay and the Golden Gate, and in the far distance the dome
of Mount Tamalpais rises above the clouds.
The ferryboats from Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and Sausalito are
plying their ceaseless traffic from mole to mole. White-sailed
ships from foreign countries, outward bound with the tide, conveyed
by little bustling tugs, look like monster white-winged gulls; and
somber-hued gunboats, their portholes bristling with deadly engines of
war, strain at their cables. It is an inspiring sight, and, turning
away with reluctance, we circle the hill to Cragmont Heights, stopping
to rest on the rocky summit that overlooks the valley.
[Illustration: CANON AND HILLSIDE]
To our right in North Brae rises a massive pile of granite, known as
"Indian Rock." It marks the resting place of a number of Indian
warriors who once roamed the surrounding hills, and is a fitting
monument to this once noble race.
This is the time of year when the birds set up housekeeping; and such
debonair wooers the male birds are! Dressed in their gay attire, they
display it to the best advantage before the fair sex. Is there
anything so interesting or so amusing as bird courtship? The
rollicking song of the male, an exhibition of his vocal powers worthy
of a virtuoso, is accompanied by the most comical gymnastics--bowing,
scraping, and side-stepping like a dancing-master; all of which, I am
sure, is highly appreciated by the demure little lady. I have seen
birds courting in the stately figures of the minuet, crossing over and
back, bowing and curtsying, in a dignified manner. Listen to the
meadow lark as he pours out his heart in a love song to his mate. As
near as I can understand him he is saying, "Spring is here, my dear,
my dear," and in a lower tone, "Let's build a nest." When such an
ardent wooer lays siege to my lady, using such exquisite music to
further his suit, she must have a heart of stone that would not
quickly capitulate to his amour.
The bobolink, that little minstrel of the marshes, teeters up and down
on a swaying cattail, and flirts most scandalously, as he calls to his
lady love: "What a pink, what a pink, little minx, little minx! You're
a dear, dear, dear."
But we cannot stay to spy upon such love scenes, and we strike out on
the trail for home, after listening with pleasure, as well as profit,
to these feathered musicians.
It was on February 22, Washington's Birthday, that Hal and I started
in the early morning from Berkeley, for a trip to Wild-cat Canon. The
birds are singing their _Te Deum_ to the morning sun. The California
partridges run along the path ahead of us, their waving crests bobbing
up and down as they scurry out of sight under the bushes, seldom
taking wing, but depending on their sturdy little legs to take them
out of harm's way. A cotton-tail, disturbed in his hiding, darts away,
bounding from side to side like a rubber ball, as if expecting a shot
to overtake him before he can get safely to cover He need not fear, as
we have no more deadly weapon than a camera, though we should
certainly train that upon him if he but gave us a chance. High
overhead we hear the clarion honk, honk of wild geese, cleaving the
air in drag-shaped column, while the dew on the grass dances and
sparkles in the sunshine like glittering diamonds.
After a hard climb we reach the top of the hill, and look down at the
town just awakening into life, and out across the waters of the bay
partly hidden by the blanket of fog rolling in from the ocean.
Did you ever stand on the top of a high hill in the early morning,
when the eastern sky is beginning to put on its morning robe of
variegated colors, with all the blended shades of an artist's palette,
and watch the town, nestling in the valley at your feet, wake up after
its night of slumber? Here a chimney sends its spiral of blue smoke
straight in air; then another, and another, like the smoke of Indian
scouts signaling to their tribes. The lights in the windows go out,
one by one; the sharp blast of a whistle cuts the air, the clang of a
bell peals out, the rumble of a wagon is heard, and the street cars
begin their clatter and clang. All this comes floating up to you on
the still morning air, until an ever-increasing crescendo of sounds is
borne in upon you, telling that the town has awakened from its nap,
stretched itself like a drowsy giant, and is ready once more to
grapple with its various problems.
We pass a grove of tall eucalyptus trees on our left, their rugged
trunks like an army of tattered, unkempt giants. From the brink of the
old stone quarry, we gaze down into its prisonlike depths, the
perpendicular walls looking as if they had been carved out of solid
rock to hold some primeval malefactor; then we descend the hill on the
other side to the canon.
[Illustration: THE BOTTOM OF THE CANON]
The view on every side is magnificent. Rising out of the canon, on the
farther side, the rounded domes of the hills, clothed in velvet green,
roll from one to another like huge waves of the ocean, while far to
the right old Grizzly stands majestically above the others, its top
crowned with waving verdure, like the gaudy headdress of some mighty
We descend into the canon by a well-marked trail, and the shade of the
trees is most grateful after our walk in the sun. We follow
downstream, where the speckled trout lie hid in the deep pools, and
the song sparrows sing their sweetest, and at last find ourselves at
the object of our quest, opposite the caves.
There are three or four of these, large and small, which were used in
former times by the Indians. We had fully intended to climb the face
of this almost perpendicular cliff, to explore the caves, and
photograph the interiors with the aid of flashlights, but decided that
the climb was too hard, and the ground too wet and slippery for
safety. As a false step or an insecure foothold would send us to the
bottom with broken bones, if not broken necks, we contented ourselves
with photographing the face of the cliff from a safe distance.
Retracing our steps, crossing the stream, and making a long detour, we
tried to reach the caves from above. It was a hard, tedious climb,
over rough and jagged rocks, but after nearly an hour's struggle,
slipping and sliding, holding on to every shrub that offered the
semblance of a grip, we reached the top. Then by a more tedious and
dangerous descent, we reached a large flat rock just above the caves.
Crawling out upon the rock, and venturing as near the edge as we
dared, we found it almost as impossible to reach the caves from above
as from below, and finally gave up the attempt.
[Illustration: WILD-CAT CANON]
But we were well repaid for our rough climb, for a more magnificent
panorama could hardly be found. We looked for miles up and down the
canon, in either direction, so far below us that the head grew dizzy.
The trees followed the tortuous course of the canon, and two men that
we saw far below us looked like pigmies.
Far above us a sparrow hawk circled above the trees, and we were told
that an owl had a nest somewhere among the rocks. We did not look for
it, but certainly nothing but an owl, or some other bird, could ever
hope to scale the rocks successfully. We rested a long time on the top
of the rock, enjoying the view, and regaining our wind for the climb
to the top. This we accomplished without accident, save for the few
scratches incident to such work. It was the season when the flowering
currant puts on its gala dress of pink blossoms, and the banks of the
creek for a long distance were like a flower garden. On the higher
ground the beautiful Zygadene plant, with its pompon of white
star-shaped flowers, and long graceful leaves, grew in profusion.
Maidenhair ferns, the only variety we saw, sent forth their delicate
streamers from every nook and cranny, forming a carpet of exquisite
When we reached the top of the hill on our return, and looked down
upon Berkeley, the sun was obscured by a high fog, and a cold wind
came up to us from the bay, making us step lively to keep the blood
circulating. We reached home late in the afternoon, worn, and
leg-weary, but well satisfied with our holiday in Wild-cat Canon and
the beautiful Berkeley hills.
When bright-hued leaves from tree and thicket fall,
And on the ground their autumn carpet strew;
And overhead the wild geese honking call,
In wedge-shaped column, high amid the blue;
When from the sagebrush, and from mountain high,
The quail's soft note reechoes far and wide;
When hunter moon hangs crescent in the sky,
And wild deer range on rugged mountain side;
When old primeval instincts, nature born,
Stir in the hunter's blood with lust to kill,
And drive him forth with dog and gun, at morn,
To sheltered blind, or runway 'neath the hill--
All these proclaim the glorious autumn days,
When Nature spends her wealth with lavish hand,
And o'er the landscape spreads a purple haze,
And waves her magic scepter o'er the land.
Around the Camp Fire
Did you ever camp in the woods on a moonlight night and listen to
nature's voices? Have you seen the light flicker through the trees,
and glisten on the little brook, its ripples breaking into molten
silver as it glides away between banks o'erhung with fern and trailing
Did you ever sit by the camp fire after a day's climb over rocks and
treacherous trails, or after whipping the stream up and down for the
speckled beauties, and watch the flames climb higher and higher, the
sparks flying upward as you throw on the dry pine branches, and listen
to the trees overhead, swayed by the gentle breeze, croon their drowsy
lullaby? Thus were Hal and I camped one night in June, at Ben Lomond,
in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I shall never forget the glory of
that moonlight night.
There is a delightful, comforting feeling about it, and somehow it
always reminds me of a theater, one of God's own handiwork, whose dome
is the blue vault of heaven, studded with its millions of stars. The
silver moon just peeping over the mountain, throwing into grand relief
its rugged seam-scarred sides, the calcium light; the pine trees with
waving plumes, rising file on file like shrouded specters, form the
stage setting; the mountain brook, on whose bosom the moon leaves a
streak of molten silver, the footlights; while all the myriad voices
of the night, harmoniously blended, are the orchestra. Even the birds
in their nests, awakened by the firelight, join their sleepy chirpings
to the chorus.
It has something primeval about it, and one almost expects to see
Robin Hood or Friar Tuck step out into the firelight. The camp fire
carries one back to the days when the red men roamed the woods, sat
round their camp fires, listened to the talking leaves, and boasted of
What sweet memories linger round the camp fire, where the song of the
cricket brings to us recollections of boyhood's days on the farm, when
we listened to the little minstrel, joined to the voice of the
katydids, as their elfin music came floating up from field and meadow
in a pulsating treble chorus. Dear little black musician of my
childhood! Your note still lingers in my memory and brings before me
the faces of those long since departed, who sat around the fireplace
and listened to your cheery song. There was an unwritten law among us
boys never to kill a cricket, and we kept it as sacredly as was kept
the law of the Medes and Persians.
There is another side to the camp fire: the genial comradery of its
cheery blaze, after the supper is over and the pipes lit, which
invites stories of the day's catch. The speckled beauties are
exhibited, lying side by side on the damp moss at the bottom of the
basket. The tale is told of repeated casts, under the overhanging
boughs, in the shadow of the big rock, where the water swirls and
rushes: how the brown hackle went skittering over the pool, or dropped
as lightly as thistledown on the edge of the riffle, the sudden rise
to the fly, the rush for deep water, of the strain on the rod when it
throbbed like a thing of life, sending a delicious tingle to the
finger tips, the successful battle, and the game brought to the net at
The delicious odor of the coffee bubbling in the pot, the speckled
beauties, still side by side, sizzling in the pan, all combine to
tempt the appetite of an epicure.
The camp fire has strange and varied companions. Men from all walks of
life are lured by its cheery blaze. Here sits the noted divine in
search of recreation, and, incidentally, material for future sermonic
use; a prominent physician, glad to escape for a season the
complaining ills, real or imaginary, of his many patients; a judge,
whose benign expression, as he straightens the leaders in his flybook,
or carefully wipes the moisture from his split bamboo rod, suggests
nothing of justice dispensed with an iron hand; and Emanuel, our
Mexican guide, who contentedly inhales the smoke from his cigarette as
he lounges in the warmth of the blazing camp fire, dreaming of his
Who can withstand the call of the camp fire, when the sap begins to
run in the trees, and the buds swell with growing life? The meadow
larks call from the pasture, and overhead the killdee pipes his
plaintive call. One longs to lie in the sunshine and watch the clouds
go trailing over the valley. The smell of the woods and the smoke of
the camp fire are in the air, and that old restless longing steals
over him. It is a malady that no prescription compounded by the hand
of a physician can alleviate. Its only antidote is a liberal dose of
Mother Nature's remedy, "God's Out-of-Doors."
What changes the close contact of nature makes in her loving children!
You would hardly know these men dressed in khaki suits and flannel
shirts, smoking their evening pipes around the camp fire, as the same
men who attend receptions and banquets in the city, dressed in
conventional evening clothes; and I dare say they enjoy the camp fire,
with its homely fare and cheery blaze, far more than electric-lighted
parlors and costly catering.
But the camp fire wanes. A stick burns through and falls asunder,
sending up a shower of sparks. Charred embers only remain. We spread
our blankets with knapsack for pillow. With no sound of traffic to
mar our slumbers, soothed by the wind in the branches, and the gentle
song of the mountain brook for a lullaby, we are wooed to sleep on the
broad bosom of Mother Earth.
Trout Fishing in the Berkeley Hills
Since the days when Izaak Walton wrote The Complete Angler, men have
emulated his example, and gone forth with rod and reel to tempt the
finny tribe from dashing mountain brook or quiet river.
We, being his disciples, thought to follow his example, and spend the
day in the Berkeley hills whipping the stream for the wary brook
April first is the open season for trout in California, but owing to
the scarcity of rain we feared the water in the brook would be too low
for good fishing. Providence favored us, however, with a steady
downpour on Wednesday, which put new hope in our hearts, and water in
the stream; and we decided to try our luck on Saturday afternoon, and
take what came to our hooks as a "gift of the gods."
Accordingly, we met at the Ferry Building, fully equipped, and took
the boat across San Francisco Bay, thence by cars to Claremont, and
from there struck into the hills. The wind blew cold from the bay,
having a clear sweep up through the Golden Gate, but as soon as we
began to make the ascent our coats became a burden.
It was a hard, tedious climb over the first range of hills, but upon
reaching the summit and looking down into the valley we felt well
repaid for our trouble, as we gazed in awed delight upon the
magnificent view spread out below us like a panorama.
The valley stretches out in either direction far below us, as if to
offer an uninterrupted flow for the mountain brook through which it
passes. We counted twelve peaks surrounding the valley, their rounded
domes glowing with the beautiful California poppy, like a covering of
a cloth of gold, while below the peaks the sloping sides looked like
green velvet. Here and there pine groves dotted the landscape, while
madrones and manzanitas stood out vividly against their dark-green
Orinda Creek, the object of our quest, runs through this beautiful
valley, shut in on each side by the hills. Along the trail leading to
the stream blue and white lupines grow in profusion, giving a delicate
amethyst tinge to the landscape. Wild honeysuckle, with its
pinkish-red blossoms, is on every side and the California azalea
fringes both banks of the stream, its rich foliage almost hidden by
magnificent clusters of white and yellow flowers, which send out a
delightful, spicy fragrance, that can be detected far back from the
[Illustration: THE TROUT'S PARADISE]
The meadow larks called from the hillside their quaint "Spring o' the
year," the song sparrows sang their tinkling melody from the live
oaks, catbirds mewed from the thicket, and occasionally a linnet sang
its rollicking solo as it performed queer acrobatic feats while on the
Ahead of us a blue jay kept close watch over our movements, but at
last decided that we are harmless, and with a last shriek of defiance
flew away to pour out his vituperations on other hapless wanderers.
Adjusting our rods, and baiting our hooks with salmon roe, we crept
down to where a little fall sent the water swirling around a rock,
making a deep pool, and an ideal place for trout. Dropping our lines
into the rapids, we let the bait float down close to the rock in the
deep shadows. As soon as it struck the riffle there was a flash of
silver, and the game was hooked. Away he went, the reel humming a
merry tune as he raced back and forth across the pool, the rod bent
like a coach whip, the strain on the line sending a delightful tingle
to our finger tips. But he soon tired of the unequal contest, and was
brought safely to the landing net. He was by no means a large fish, as
game fish are reckoned, but to my mind it is not always the largest
fish that gives the keenest sport.
[Illustration: FISHING FOR BROOK TROUT]
From one pool to another we passed, wetting a line in each with
fair success, scrambling over logs and lichen-covered rocks, wading
from one side of the stream to the other, until the lengthening
shadows warned us to wind in our lines and start for home. Well
satisfied we were with the thirty-two trout reposing at the bottom of
Our long tramp and the salt sea air had made us ravenously hungry, and
the sandwiches that provident wives had prepared for us were dug out
of capacious pockets and eaten with a relish that an epicure might
covet. I shall never forget the trip back. Night overtook us before we
were out of the first valley, the ascent was very steep, and we had to
stop every few rods to get our wind.
At last we reached the summit of Grizzly Peak, seventeen hundred and
fifty-nine feet above sea level, while to our right Bald Peak,
nineteen hundred and thirty feet high, loomed up against the sky. The
path on Grizzly was so narrow we had to walk single file, and a false
step would have sent us rolling down hundreds of feet.
The view--although seen in vague outline--was magnificent. Berkeley
and Oakland lay seventeen hundred feet below us, their twinkling
lights glowing through the darkness like fireflies. Out on San
Francisco Bay the lights flashed from the mastheads of ships at anchor
or from brightly lighted ferryboats plying from mole to mole, while
far to the left, Lake Merritt lay like a gray sheet amid the shadows.
In the middle distance off Yerba Buena Island two United States
gunboats were at anchor, one of them sending the rays of its powerful
searchlight here and there across the water, and making a veritable
path of silver far out across the bay.
Jack rabbits and cotton-tails scurried across our path and dodged into
thickets. An owl flapped lazily over our heads and sailed away down
the valley, evidently on his nocturnal hunting. But we had little time
or inclination to give to these mountain creatures, as we had to pay
strict attention to our footing.
The last descent proved to be the hardest, for the grade was as steep
as the roof of a house, but we finally succeeded in scrambling down,
and at last reached the grove surrounding the Greek Amphitheater; then
home, footsore and weary, but happy with our afternoon's outing on the
trout streams in the Berkeley Hills.
On the Beach
We stand in awe at the grandeur of the mountains, thrusting their
snowcapped summits into the clouds, and it is indeed a glorious sight;
but the ocean, with its ceaseless motion, its wonderful rising and
falling of the tides, and its constant and mysterious moaning, is not
to be outdone in sublimity, and offers a keen delight to the lover of
nature. Its sands and waters are ever changing. Its rugged coast, with
rocks scattered in wild profusion, is one of the most interesting
spots in all the world.
A piece of wreckage is thrown upon the beach, and you wonder what dire
disaster happened far out at sea, and if the rest of the ship went to
the bottom with all on board. But take it home, let it dry in the sun,
then place it on your open grate fire, and as you watch the iridescent
blaze curl up the chimney, dream dreams, and weave strange fancies in
the light of your driftwood fire.
A day at the seashore is one of pleasure, a delightful change from
woods and uplands to rocks and rushing waters. Some prefer the smooth
stretch of sandy beach, where one may lie at luxurious ease in the
warm sand, and listen to the waves lapping along shore, or, discarding
shoes and stockings, wade out until the white-capped waves, like
policemen, drive you back from encroaching upon old Neptune's domain.
But we prefer the rocky cliffs, combined with the sandy beach, and
such a place is Land's End, near the Golden Gate, in San Francisco.
We started down the steep incline, strewn with jagged rocks, to follow
the narrow path along the cliffs. But our outing was marred by meeting
two men toiling up the path along the narrow way, carrying an
unfortunate sightseer who had ventured too near the edge of the cliff
and fallen into the ocean. Only the prompt action of a friend who
scrambled down the rocks at the risk of his life saved him from a
watery grave. His resuscitation must have been painful, judging by his
agonizing groans, but the ambulance officers had been summoned and
the unfortunate sufferer was cared for at the hospital.
The incident served to make us more careful, and at the narrowest
place in the path we used the utmost caution, for the rocks below rose
up like dragon's teeth, ready to impale us if we should make a false
step--and that white drawn face haunted us like a specter.
The path along the ocean is a narrow and tortuous one, running about
halfway between the water and the top of the cliff. Great granite
rocks rise up like giants to dispute our passage, but by numerous
twistings the path skirts their base, or wriggles snakelike over the
[Illustration: THEY HAVE STOOD THE STORMS OF CENTURIES]
Hundreds of feet below, the waves come rolling in from the ocean,
dashing with a giant's fury against the rocks, and shattering
themselves into white spray that is tossed high in air, like thousands
of white fingers seeking to clutch the granite barrier. Then receding
like a roaring lion baffled of its prey, it gathers new strength, and
flings itself again and again against the rocks, like a gladiator
striving for the mastery.
Here, in a massive pile of rocks, is a deep, dark cavern, evidently
worn by the action of the waves that have pounded against it for
centuries. Looking out upon the ocean, we see a wave mightier than all
the others sweeping onward, as if challenging the rocks to mortal
combat, its mighty curving crest white and seething with foam, hissing
like a serpent. On it comes, sweeping over half-submerged rocks,
growling in its fury, sublime in its towering majesty, awful in its
Nearing the rocks, it seems to hang suspended for a moment, then hurls
itself as from a catapult against the barrier with a sound like
thunder, filling the cavern to its utmost, causing the ground to
fairly tremble with the impact, and sending the white spray high up
the face of the cliff, to be scattered like chaff before the breeze.
And the old rock that has stood the storms of ages, looks down at its
beaten and broken enemy, swirling, seething, and snarling at its
feet, and fairly laughs at its puny efforts.
[Illustration: SEA GULL ROCK]
Here we venture to a place that seems accessible in order to procure a
photograph. It was a foolhardy undertaking, and we knew it. But
fortune favored us, and the much-desired picture was secured. But thus
will men gamble with death to gratify a whim, for a false step or
sudden vertigo would have sent us crashing on to the jagged rocks
Overhead the sea gulls beat the air on tireless wings, or skim close
to the water, intent upon their ceaseless search for food. Far out the
lighthouse stands anchored to the rocks, the waves dashing against it,
as if to tear it from its firm foundation. But it defies them all, and
sends the cheery beacon light over the waters, to guide the stately
ships between the portals of the Golden Gate.
Directly opposite, the white buildings of Point Bonita stand out
against the green of the hills; strongly fortified, and ready at all
times to defend the entrance to San Francisco Bay against warlike
Two hardy fishermen have ventured out at low tide to a large rock and
are casting their lines into the boiling waters for rock-cod or
porgies, while the Italian fishing boats, with their queer striped
sails, form a striking contrast to the massive steamboats, with smoke
trailing from their twin funnels, that are outward bound for China or
Farther on, where the rocks descend to the sea level, we roam the
beach and gather sea shells, starfish, and sea urchins; and by a
shallow pool we stop to watch the scarlet fringes of the sea anemones,
waving back and forth with the action of the tide. Barnacles cover the
top of every rock that the tide reaches, and the long, blackish,
snakelike seaweed is strewn along the beach.
We watch the tide come creeping in, each succeeding wave running a
little farther up the beach and driving us back with relentless energy
from its rightful possessions.
The sun sinks down in golden splendor behind the ocean's rim, leaving
a track of molten gold that tips as with a halo the edges of the
dancing waves. We turn our faces homeward, with a last, lingering look
at the majestic expanse of blue rolling waters, and ever in our ears
sounds the ceaseless moaning of the ocean.
June, to me, is one of the most fascinating months in California--if
any of them can be set apart and called more perfect than another--for
June is a month of moods.
If you are an Easterner you would abandon your proposed picnic party,
upon rising in the morning, for fear of rain, and, being a tenderfoot,
you would be justified, for the clouds--or, more properly speaking,
the high fog--give every indication of a shower. But an old
Californian would tell you to take no thought of appearances, and to
leave your umbrella and raincoat at home, for this is one of nature's
"bluffs"; by ten o'clock the sun will be shining brightly, and the fog
dispersed under its warm rays.
Then pack your lunch basket, don your khaki suit, and strike out on
the trail, while the dew still twinkles on the grass blades like cut
diamonds, and the birds are singing their _Te Deum_ to the morning
It was on just such a day that we set out on a trip to Muir Woods and
the giant sequoias, one of the most beautiful spots in the State. From
Mill Valley the climb is a steep one, passing the picturesque ruins of
an old mill erected in 1843. We come to a sort of corduroy path, where
some enterprising landowner has placed logs across the trail, with the
object of facilitating travel. It is not a very decided improvement on
nature, however, for the steps are too far apart for comfort.
Summer cottages are scattered along the trail, perched on the
hillside, and placed in the most advantageous position to gain a view
of the bay, or on slightly higher ground, where they peek over the
tops of the trees into the valley below.
After a stiff climb we reach the top of the last range of hills and
begin our descent into the valley, where Muir Woods nestles between
the hills at the foot of Mount Tamalpais, in the beautiful Sequoia
Canon. We look away to the right and can see the heavy clouds envelop
the summit of the mountain, but the highest stands above the clouds,
and the sun touches its stately crest with golden splendor.
The forest always has a weird fascination for me, with its soft
whisperings, as if the trees were confiding secrets to each other. One
can become intimately acquainted with it, and learn to love its quiet
solitude, only by living in or near it, and wandering at will through
its trackless, leaf-carpeted aisles. Your eyes must be trained to
constant watching, you must learn to be a close observer, to note the
flowers, vines, and tangled shrubbery that are seldom mentioned by
botanists, and your ear must be tuned to catch the elfin music that
is heard within the confines of the forest. You cannot travel a rod
under the trees without being watched by the small forest inhabitants,
who regard you with suspicion, and peer at you from under decaying
logs or leafy covert like self-appointed detectives.
Muir Woods comprises nearly three hundred acres, the principal trees
being laurel, fir, oak, redwood, and madrone, of which the giant
redwood (Sequoia) predominates. The redwoods in Muir Woods are
thousands of years old, and rise from two to three hundred feet in
air. The bark is from one to two feet in thickness, of a cinnamon
color, and the base of the largest trees from twenty-five to thirty
feet in diameter. A clear and cold mountain brook runs through the
forest, and ferns grow in rich profusion along its margin, some of
them reaching a height of six feet.
One cannot but note the profound quiet of the forest, as if these
mighty trees that had withstood the storms of centuries were afraid
their secrets might be wrested from them.
In some past ages fire has swept through the forest, laying some of
these giants low, but other trees have sprung from their charred
stumps, and rear their straight trunks and green-crowned heads
hundreds of feet above the surrounding foliage. These stately trees
have grown and flourished like Solomon's Temple with no sound of
woodman's axe to mar the quiet solemnity of this primeval forest. One
stands in awe in the presence of these wonderful sequoias, the
greatest of trees, and we converse in low tones, as if standing in the
presence of spirits of bygone ages.
[Illustration: AMONG THE REDWOODS]
Muir Woods was accepted by the United States government as a national
monument in 1908, by special proclamation of President Theodore
Roosevelt, and was named in honor of John Muir, the celebrated
There is no place in California where one can more profitably spend a
day in the enjoyment of the wonderful beauties of nature than in this
grove of giant redwoods.
San Francisco Bay
Where once the Indian's canoe roamed o'er the bay,
With silent motion, sped by warrior's hand;
The sea gulls wheel and turn in columns gray,
And on the beach the miners' cabins stand;
Now, white-sailed ships sail outward with the tide,
The stately ocean liners lead the van;
And iron warships anchor side by side,
With sister ships from China and Japan.
Italian fishing boats with lateen sails go by,
To cast their lines outside the Golden Gate;
And ferryboats their ceaseless traffic ply,
From mole to mole, from early morn till late.
And so the march of commerce takes its way,
And every clime contributes of its store
Where once the Indian's tepee held its sway,
Now stands the Golden City on the shore.
IN CHINA TOWN
If you are a tourist, making your first visit to San Francisco, you
will inquire at once for Chinatown, the settlement of the Celestial
Kingdom, dropped down, as it were, in the very heart of a big city; a
locality where you are as far removed from anything American as if you
were in Hongkong or Foochow. Chinatown is only about two blocks wide
by eight blocks long; yet in this small area from ten to fifteen
thousand Chinese live, and cling with all the tenacity of the race to
their Oriental customs and native dress. They are as clean as a new
pin about their person, but how they can keep so immaculate amid such
careless and not over-clean surroundings is a mystery not to be solved
by a white man.
For a few dollars a guide will conduct a party through Chinatown, and
point out all the places of interest; but we preferred to act for
ourselves in this capacity, and saunter from place to place as our
fancy dictated. Stores of all kinds line both sides of Grant Avenue,
formerly called Dupont, where all kinds of Chinese merchandise are
displayed in profusion. At one place we stopped to examine some most
exquisite ivory carvings, as delicate in tracery as frost on a window
pane. Next we lingered before a shop where the women of our party went
into raptures over the exquisite gowns and the beautiful needlework
displayed. Here are shown padded silks of the most delicate shades, on
which deft fingers have embroidered the ever-present Chinese stork and
cherry blossoms, as realistic as if painted with an artist's brush.
That peculiar building just across the way is the Kow Nan Low
Restaurant, resplendent with dragons and lanterns of every shape and
size suspended above and about the doorway.
If you are fond of chop suey, or bird's-nest pudding, and are not too
fastidious as to its ingredients, you may enjoy a dinner fit for a
We stop before a barber shop and watch the queer process of shaving
the head and braiding the queue. The barber does not invite
inspection, as the curtains are partly drawn, but we peep over the top
and look with interest at the queer process of tonsorial achievement,
much to the disgust of the barber and his customer, if the expression
on their faces can be taken as an index of their thoughts.
Then to the drug store, the market, the shoeshop, and a dozen other
places, to finally bring up where all the tourists do--at the
"Marshall Field's" of Chinatown, Sing Fat's, a truly marvelous place,
where one can spend hours looking over the countless objects of
[Illustration: A CHINESE SHOEMAKER]
One of the pleasures of Chinatown is to see the children of rich and
poor on the street, dressed in their Oriental costumes, looking like
tiny yellow flowers, as they pick their way daintily along the walk,
or are carried in the arms of the happy father--never the mother. If
you would make the father smile, show an interest in the boy he is
carrying so proudly.
To gamble is a Chinaman's second nature. Games of fan-tan and pie-gow
are constantly in operation; and the police either tolerate or are
powerless to stop them. Tong wars are of frequent occurrence, crime
and its punishment being so mixed up that an outsider cannot unravel
them. The San Francisco police have struggled with the question, but
have finally left the Chinese to settle their own affairs after their
own fashion. Opium dens flourish as a matter of course, for opium and
Chinese are synonymous words. You can tell an opium fiend as far as
you can see him; his face looks like wet parchment stretched over a
skull and dried, making a truly gruesome sight. Every ship that comes
into the bay from the Orient is searched for opium, and quantities of
it are found hidden away under the planking, or in other places less
likely to be detected by the sharp-eyed officials. When found it is
at once confiscated.
[Illustration: IN CHINATOWN]
The Chinese are an extremely superstitious people, and it is very
difficult to get a photograph of them, for they flee from the camera
man as from the wrath to come. When you think you are about to get a
good picture, and are ready to press the button, he either covers his
face, or turns his back to you. The writer was congratulating himself
on the picture he was about to take of four Chinese women in their
native costumes, and was just going to make the exposure, when four
Chinamen who were watching him deliberately stepped in front of the
camera, completely spoiling the negative. The younger generation, and
especially the girls, will occasionally pose for you, and a truly
picturesque group they make in their queer mannish dress of bright
colors, as they laugh and chatter in their odd but musical jargon.
A few years ago you could not persuade a Chinaman to talk into a
telephone, for, as one of them said, "No can see talkee him," meaning
he could not see the speaker. Another said, "Debil talkee, me no likee
him," but now this is all changed. Some there are who still cling to
their old superstitions, but they are few. The march of commerce
levels all prejudices, and the telephone is an established fact in
Chinatown. They have their own exchange, a small building built in
Chinese style, and their own operators. Even the San Francisco
telephone book has one section devoted to them, and printed in Chinese
characters. And so civilization goes marching on, the old order
changeth, and even the Chinaman must of necessity conform to our ways.
But the Chinatown of to-day is not the Chinatown existent before the
great disaster of 1906. It has changed, and that for the better,
better both for the city and the Chinaman.
Mr. Arnold Genthe, in his Old Chinatown, says: "I think we first
glimpsed the real man through our gradual understanding of his
honesty. American merchants learned that none need ever ask a note of
a Chinaman in any commercial transaction; his word was his bond." And
while they still have their joss houses, worship their idols, gamble,
and smoke opium, they are their own worst enemies; they do not bother
the white men, and are generally considered a law unto themselves.
As we pass on down Grant Avenue we meet a crowd gathered around a
bulletin board, where hundreds of red and yellow posters are
displayed. All are excited, chattering like magpies, as they discuss
the latest bulletin of a Tong war, or some other notice of equal
interest; and here we leave them, and Chinatown also, passing over the
line out of the precincts of the Celestial, and into our own "God's
In a Glass-bottom Boat
About one hundred miles south of San Francisco lies the beautiful
Monterey Bay. Here hundreds of fishing boats of all styles and sizes
tug at their anchors, awaiting the turn of the tide to sail out and
cast their lines for baracuta, yellowtail, and salmon, which abound in
these waters to gladden the heart of the sturdy fisherman. One may
forego the pleasure of fishing if so inclined, and take a sail in the
glass-bottom boat, viewing through its transparent bottom the wonders
of the mighty deep.
There were fifteen in our party, ranged along each side of the boat.
Curtains were let down from the outside, practically cutting off all
outside light and making the bottom of the sea as light as day. Our
boatman informed us, after we were well under way, that we were
approaching the place called "The Garden of the Sea Gods," one of the
most beautiful submarine views on the coast. He did not exaggerate, as
we were soon to know, for the scene was truly wonderful, and rightly
named. All kinds of sea life began to pass before our eyes, like the
fast changing figures of a kaleidoscope. Here the delicate sea moss
lay like a green carpet, dotted here and there with a touch of purple,
making fantastic figures; a place where the sea fairies might dance
and hold their revels, as the peasant girls of Normandy dance on the
Close beside this fairy playground great gray rocks rose like
sentinels, as if to warn off trespassers. Clinging to their rugged
sides were starfish of all sizes and colors, varying from white to
red, with all the intervening shades. Sea urchins, those porcupines of
the deep, with long, prickly spines, looking like a lady's pincushion,
were in profusion, and clung tenaciously to every rock. Now our boat
glides over a canon whose rugged sides extend away down into the
depths, and on either side the verdure grows tier on tier, like a
veritable forest. We wonder what denizens of the deep are lurking
under the shadows and amid the stately aisles, to dart out on the
On we glide over the beautiful sea anemone, half animal, half
vegetable, with its colors as variegated as a rose garden. Seaweed and
kelp wave to us as we pass, long-stemmed sea grasses moving by the
action of the waves, like a feather boa worn by some sea nymph, twist
and turn like a thing alive; tall, feathery plumes, as white as snow,
or as green as emerald, toss to and fro, and make obeisance to old
Neptune. Sea onions, with stems thirty feet long, and bulbous
air-filled sacks, reach out their long snaky arms, like an octopus,
and woe to the swimmer who becomes entangled in their slimy folds.
[Illustration: THE BREAKING WAVES]
We pass over a school of rock cod--large, lazy fellows--who take life
easy, while small, slim tommy-cod dart in and out among the rocks or
hide under the mosses. Steel heads, as spotted as an adder, glide
close to the glass as if to investigate, then dart away pursued by
some larger fish, who look upon them as their lawful prey.
Over by that rock a hermit crab has taken possession of a sea snail's
shell, and set up housekeeping; with body partly hidden he waves his
long bony tentacles, while his beady eyes stare at us from the doorway
of his home.
Now a sea grotto passes beneath us, marvelously beautiful with its
frostlike tracery. Its arched openings are hung with a tapestry of
pink sea moss, which swings back and forth to the action of the waves,
as if moved by some invisible hand. We get a glimpse, in passing, of
the interior view with its white, pebbly floor, in which the basket
starfish have possession--a fitting reception room for sea nymph or
mermaid. Pillars of stone incrusted with barnacles and periwinkles
rise all around, while long tendrils of sea ferns wave like banners
around their base.
[Illustration: THE GLASS-BOTTOM BOAT]
Our boatman tells us that we are about to pass from "The Garden of the
Sea Gods" into "Hell's Half-Acre." What a change in a moment's time! A
desert of rock tumbled in a heterogeneous mass, all shapes and sizes,
as if thrown by some giant hand into grotesque and fantastic shapes.
No wonder they gave it such a gruesome name.
In such a place one would expect to see the bleaching bones of
sailors, lost at sea, or the broken and dismantled hulk of a galleon,
half buried in the sand. A shadow crosses our vision, and slowly there
comes to our sight a shark, that scavenger of the deep, a fitting spot
for such as he to come upon the stage. Slowly he passes, turning
partly on his side, showing the cruel mouth with rows of serrated
teeth. His eyes look at us as if in anger at being cheated of his
prey, then on he glides like a specter, and with a flirt of his tail
as he waves us adieu, he passes out of sight. We breathe a sigh of
thanksgiving that the boat is between us and this hideous, cruel
monster, and another sigh of regret as our boat touches the wharf, to
think that the trip is so soon ended. Truly, "those who go down into
the sea in ships" have wonders revealed to them such as were never
dreamed of in the mind of man.
Fog on the Bay
One could hardly find a more perfect morning than this in early March.
The sun was heralded over the hills in a blaze of glory; meadow larks
strung like beads on a telegraph wire were calling their cheery notes,
and robins were singing their overture to the morning sun.
Boarding the Key Route train, I soon arrived at the Oakland mole, to
find it crowded with a restless tide of humanity, waiting impatiently
for the overdue boat. Each arriving train added to the congestion,
until the building between the tracks and the gangway was crowded with
Finally, after much speculation as to the delay, the tardy boat
arrived, and a steady stream of people flowed by the three gangways to
the upper and lower decks. The last straggler was on board and the
gangplank lifted, reminding me of the stories I had read of raising
the drawbridge across the moat of some ancient feudal castle, and
leaving the mole with its imitation portcullis behind we steamed out
into the bay. The sun shone from a cloudless sky, and there was not
enough wind to straighten out the pennant from the masthead.
We were hardly opposite Yerba Buena Island, however, when we ran into
a fog that completely engulfed us. To plunge from bright sunlight into
a blanket of gray mist so dense that one cannot see fifty feet in any
direction, has just enough spice of danger about it to make it
interesting. It was like being cut off from the world, with nothing in
sight but this clinging curtain enveloping one like a damp cloud,
settling like frost on everything it touches, and glittering like
An undercurrent of anxiety pervaded the ship, for we were running with
no landmark to guide us, and with only the captain's knowledge of the
bay and the tides to bring us safely through.
Passengers crowded to the rails, straining their eyes into the dense
smother, while whistles were blowing on all sides. The shrill
shriek of the government tug, the hoarse bellow of the ocean liner,
and the fog whistle on Yerba Buena Island, all joined in a strident
warning, sending their intermittent blast over the water.
[Illustration: FOG ON THE BAY]
Our engines were slowed down to half-speed, or just enough to give her
steerage way, while the anxious captain peered from the wheelhouse
with one hand grasping the signal cord, ready for any emergency.
The sea gulls that in clear weather follow the boats back and forth
across the bay by the hundreds, were entirely absent, except for one
sturdy bird that, evidently bewildered, had lost its way in the fog,
and had alighted on the flagpole as if for protection.
Suddenly across our bows a darker spot appeared, which gradually
assumed shape, and a Southern Pacific boat loomed like a specter from
the smother of fog. The size was greatly enlarged as seen through the
veil of mist, and the dense smoke that poured from her funnel settled
around her like a pall, adding greatly to its weird appearance.
Our captain was on the watch for just such an occurrence, and three
short, sharp blasts from our whistle notified the oncoming boat that
we had stopped our engines. But the tide was running strong, and we
drew closer and closer together, until we involuntarily held our
breath, and nerves were strung to the highest tension. The great
screws churned the water into foam as we slowly backed away from each
other, like gladiators testing each other's strength, and the Southern
Pacific boat vanished into the fog like a ghost, swallowed up, as if
wiped from the face of the waters, sending back its deep bellowing
whistle as if bidding an angry defiance to the elements.
Slowly we moved forward, feeling every inch of the way, like one
groping in the dark, passing boat after boat without accident. One, a
three-masted schooner, loaded with lumber, came so near that we could
toss a stone on board, and a woman who stood in the bow waved a large
tin horn at us, and then applied herself to blowing it most
At last the bells on the piers at the ferry came floating across the
waters, faint at first, but growing louder as we advanced, and never
did bells sound sweeter or more welcome I imagine they were thrice
welcome to our captain, for they gave him the direct course to our
anchorage. Slower and yet slower we moved, our screw scarcely making a
ripple on the water, for many other boats were cautiously feeling
their way to their respective berths, and we must use all our caution
not to run foul of them.
At last came the cry from some one, "There's the light," and flashing
out from the pier, its electric rays cutting its way through the wall
of fog, shone that intermittent flame, and we knew that only a few
feet away was the dock and safety.
As the crowd hurried from the boat, anxious to reach their several
places of business without further delay, many turned and looked up at
the wheelhouse, to see the man whose nerve and faithfulness to duty
had piloted us safe to port. In that blue-uniformed figure, still
standing with hand upon the wheel, we saw a person boyish in
appearance, but every inch a man.
North from the ferry building, and near the foot of Powell Street, is
one of the old landmarks of San Francisco, known as Meiggs' Wharf.
In the early sixties an old saloon was located on the shore end of
this wharf, and connected with it was a museum which contained many
quaint curios from other lands, some of them of considerable value.
The occupant of this saloon never allowed the place to be cleaned, and
for years the spiders held undisputed possession, weaving their webs
without fear of molestation, until every nook and corner was filled
with their tapestry, and from ceiling and rafter hung long festoons of
gossamer threads that swayed back and forth in the breeze. It was a
place much visited by tourists, and a trip to San Francisco was not
considered complete without visiting this "Cobweb Museum," a name
bestowed upon it by its many guests.
It is said that Robert Louis Stevenson loved to visit this wharf and
listen to the tales told by the hardy sailors, and that out of them he
wove some of his most delightful South Sea Island stories.
Meiggs died in Peru in 1877, where he fled, a fugitive from justice,
and has long since been forgotten except by the older residents. The
wharf still remains, however, though more familiarly known to the
people of this generation as "Fisherman's Wharf"; but the old cobweb
saloon and museum are things of the past.
From here the Italian fishing boats leave for their fishing grounds
out beyond the heads, and if you visit the wharf in the early morning
you may see hundreds of these boats sail out past Land's End, and
through the Golden Gate, making a picture worthy of an artist's brush.
[Illustration: ITALIAN FISHING BOATS]
When the sun comes flashing over the hills, and the dancing waves
glisten with its rosy light, then the waters of the bay take on the
color of the amethyst. Go then to Meiggs' Wharf, and see the fishing
boats start out with lateen sail full set; hear the "Yo heave ho" of
the swarthy Italian fishermen, as they set their three-cornered,
striped sail to catch the breeze, and imagine yourself on the
far-famed bay of Naples. Your imagination does not suffer by
comparison, as San Francisco, like Naples, is built upon the hills,
and Mount Tamalpais across the bay, with wreaths of fog floating
around its summit, might well be taken for Mount Vesuvius.
[Illustration: DRYING THE NETS]
Out through the portals of the Golden Gate they sail, like
brown-winged pelicans, to drop their nets and cast their lines into
the mighty deep; but these picturesque boats are fast giving way to
more modern conveyances, and the fussy motorboat, that is not
dependent upon wind or tide, will soon relegate the lateen sail to
Go again to the wharf in the late afternoon, and watch these same
boats come laboring in against the tide, sunk deep in the water with
their day's catch. See them unload, and spread the nets to dry, and if
you can find one of these grizzled old salts off duty, and he feels so
inclined, he will tell you (between puffs on his short, black pipe)
strange and interesting stories of adventure at sea or of shipwreck on
Then, as the sails are furled, and all made snug aloft and below, and
the boats bob up and down on the long swells, straining at their
moorings, the sun sinks down behind the ocean, leaving the wharf in
shadow. The lights begin to gleam in the city, the tower of the ferry
building gleams like a beacon, outlined with its thousands of
incandescent lights, and the ferryboat takes us across the bay and
home, to dream of queer-shaped sails, of ancient mariners, and the
"Golden City" on the bay.
The Stake and Rider Fence
I love to let my fancy go wandering where it will,
To the happy days of boyhood, to the meadow and the hill;
To the brooks and quiet places, to the woods that seemed immense,
But they always linger fondly at the stake-and-rider fence.
Here, cicadas sing their loudest, and the crickets draw the bow,
And the 'hoppers and the locusts join the chorus, soft and low;
And you hear the bees a humming like a fiddle with one string,
While the air just seems to vibrate with a soothing kind of ring.
There the squirrel scolds and chatters as he runs along the rail,
And you hear the rain-crow calling, and the whistle of the quail;
And the catbird, and the blue jay, scold with vigor most intense,
As they build among the branches by the stake-and-rider fence.
There grew the tasseled milkweed with its bursting silken pods,
And the stately, waving branches of the yellow goldenrod;
The mullein stalk and asters, with teasels growing dense,
God's garden, in the angle of the stake-and-rider fence.
It was homely, but I loved it, and I wouldn't trade, would you?
For all the hothouse beauties that a florist ever knew.
Yes, I'd give up earthly honors, and count it recompense,
Just to wander through the meadow by the stake-and-rider fence.
The beautiful California days, with warm sunshine tempered by the cool
winds from the bay, are not surpassed in any country under the sun.
But if the _days_ are perfect, the brilliant moonlight nights lose
nothing by comparison.
To tramp the hills and woods, or climb the rugged mountains by day, is
a joy to the nature lover. But the same trip by moonlight has an
interest and charm entirely its own, and mysteries of nature are
revealed undreamed of at noonday.
The wind, that has run riot during the day, has blown itself out by
evening, and the birds have gone to sleep with heads tucked under
their wings, or settled with soft breasts over nestlings that twitter
soft "good nights" to mother love. The dark shadows of evening steal
the daylight, and canon and ravine lose their rugged outlines,
blending into soft, shadowy browns and purples. The moon peeps over
the hilltop, the stars come out one by one, the day is swallowed up in
night, and the moonlight waves its pale wand over the landscape.
In the deep woods it flickers through the branches, mottling the
ground with silver patches, and throwing into grand relief the trunks
of trees, like sentinels on duty. It touches the little brook as
softly as a baby's kiss, and transforms it into a sheen of gold. It
drops its yellow light upon a bed of ferns until each separate frond
stands out like a willow plume nodding up and down in the mellow
gleam. A flowering dogwood bathed in its ethereal light shimmers like
a bridal veil adorning a wood nymph. It lays its gentle touch on the
waterfall, transforming it into a torrent of molten silver, and
causing each drop to glisten like topaz under its witching light.
Overhead fleecy clouds, like white-winged argosies, sail high amid the
blue, or, finer spun, like a lady's veil, are drawn, gauzelike, across
the sky, through which the stars peep out with twinkling
brilliancy. The scent of new-mown hay laden with falling dew comes
floating up from the valley with an intoxicating sweetness, a
sweetness to which the far-famed perfume of Arabia is not to be
[Illustration: THE WITCHERY OF MOONLIGHT]
The crickets, those little black minstrels of the night, chirp under
the log upon which you are resting, and the katydids repeat over and
over again "Katy's" wonderful achievement, though just what this
amazing conquest was no one has been able to discover. The cicadas
join the chorus with their strident voices, their notes fairly
tumbling over each other in their exuberance, and in their hurry to
sing their solos. Tree toads tune up for the evening concert, a few
short notes at first, like a violinist testing the strings, then, the
pitch ascertained, the air fairly vibrates with their rhapsody.
Fireflies light their tiny lanterns and flash out their signals, like
beacon lights in the darkness, while, ringing up from the valley, the
call of the whip-poor-will echoes clear and sweet, each syllable
pronounced as distinctly as if uttered by a human voice. In a tree
overhead a screech owl emits his evening call in a clear, vibrating
tremolo, as if to warn the smaller birds that he is on watch, and
considers them his lawful prey. The night hawk wheels in his tireless
flight, graceful as a thistledown, soaring through space without a
seeming motion of the wings, emitting a whirring sound from wings and
tail feathers, and darting, now and again, with the swiftness of light
after some insect that comes under his keen vision.
If you remain quite still, you may perchance detect a cotton-tail
peeping at you from some covert. Watch him closely, and do not move a
muscle, and when his curiosity is somewhat appeased, see him thump the
ground with his hind foot, trying to scare you into revealing your
identity. If not disturbed, his fear will vanish, and he will gambol
almost at your feet.
You are fortunate indeed, if, on your nightly rambles, you find one of
the large night moths winging its silent flight over the moonlit
glade, resting for an instant on a mullein-stalk, then dancing away in
his erratic flight, like some pixy out for a lark.
O the witchery of moonlight nights, when tree, shrub, and meadow are
bathed in a sheen of silver; when lovers walk arm in arm, and in soft
whisperings build air castles for the days to come, when the
honeysuckle shall twine around their doorway, and the moonlight rest
like a benediction on their own home nest; when you sit on the porch
with day's work done, and the fireflies dance over the lawn, and the
voice of the whip-poor-will floats up from the meadow, and you dream
dreams, and weave strange fancies, under the witching spell of the
There are mountains and mountains, each one with an individuality all
its own. There are mountains whose lofty peaks are covered with
perpetual snow, like a bridal robe adorned with jewels, with the
rising sun kissing each separate fold into glowing splendor; mountains
whose rugged summits rise far above the timber line, somber and
imposing, with fleecy clouds floating round the rocky pinnacles like
fine spun silver.
Mount Tamalpais is not so lofty as Pike's Peak, or Mount Hood, but
what it loses in altitude it makes up in splendor, and a trip to its
summit, over the crookedest railroad in the world, offers a view that
Leaving the ferry building, we have a delightful ride on the bay,
passing close to Alcatraz Island, where the military prison is
located, with a view of Fort Point and Fort Baker, passing near the
United States Quarantine Station on Angel Island, and arrive at
Sausalito, perched on the hillside like some hamlet on the Rhine; then
by rail to Mill Valley, a beautiful little town nestling at the foot
of the mountain like a Swiss village. Here we change to the
observation train drawn by a mountain-climbing traction engine, and
begin the climb. The ascent is a gradual one, the steepest grade being
a trifle over seven per cent, while the train twists and turns around
two hundred and sixty curves from the base to the summit. We enter a
forest of the giant redwoods, which, enormous in girth, and three
hundred feet high, have defied the elements for thousands of years.
Crossing a canon filled with madrones, oaks, and laurels, we look down
upon a panorama of exceeding beauty. At a certain point the train
seems about to jump off into space, but it makes a sharp curve around
a jutting cliff on the edge of the canon, and a broader view bursts
upon us, a view unparalleled for its magnificence.
[Illustration: MOUNT TAMALPAIS]
About half way up we reach the double bowknot, where the road
parallels itself five times in a short distance, and where one can
change cars and go down the other side of the mountain to Muir Woods.
We stay by the train, and toil upward, over Slide Gulch, through
McKinley Cut, and at last, with aching but beauty-filled eyes, we
reach the summit. From the top of most mountains surrounding peaks
shut off the view to some extent, but from the summit of Mount
Tamalpais there is an unbroken view. Rising as it does almost from the
shores of the bay, there are miles and miles of uninterrupted view.
Far below us the ocean and the bay shimmer like a mirror, and majestic
ocean liners, outward bound, look like toy boats. To the left Mount
Hamilton rises out of the purple haze, while to the right Mount Diablo
pushes its great bulk above the clouds.
[Illustration: AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW]
It is claimed that twenty or more cities and towns can be seen from
the top of Mount Tamalpais. Whether this be true or not, I cannot say,
but it is certain that we saw a good many, near and far, and it is
also true that on a clear day the Sierras, one hundred and fifty miles
distant, can be plainly seen.
From the hotel near the summit one gets an unsurpassed view of San
Francisco Bay, the Cliff House, and the Farallone Islands; and if you
are fortunate enough to see the sun sink behind the ocean, between the
portals of the Golden Gate, you will never forget the sight. All the
colors of the artist's palette are thrown across the sky, changing
from red to orange, from orange to purple; each white-capped wave is
touched with a rosy phosphorescence, and scintillates like a thousand
To ascend Mount Tamalpais on foot, following the railroad, is not a
difficult task, and is well worth the effort, for then you can take
time to enjoy the varied views that burst upon your vision at each
turn of the road, and linger as long as you like over each choice bit
of scenery. As you descend you feel that the day upon the mountain has
been a day of vision and of beauty.
Over the second range of hills that shut in San Francisco Bay on the
east is a delightful little trout brook known as Bear Creek. With my
camera, a frugal lunch, and an assortment of trout flies carefully
stowed away in my knapsack, I started in quest of this little stream
that follows the windings of the canon.
If bears had ever inhabited this locality, and posed as its
godfathers, they had long since disappeared, and many years had passed
since they had slaked their thirst with its sparkling waters. Only the
name remained to remind one of other days, and one name is as good as
another to a trout brook.
My object was not so much to tempt the speckled trout with gaudy fly
from quiet pool or swirling riffle, as to follow the windings of the
stream, and spy out the quiet nooks, where the sun comes filtering
through the trees, dappling the water; or resting in the shadows where
the thick foliage defies its penetrating rays, and spreads a somber
hue on mossy rock or bed of ferns. At one place, perhaps a rod from
the margin of the brook, was a sort of amphitheater among the trees,
where nature had been prodigal with her colors, touching the woods in
spots here and there with ocher, umber, and vermilion. She had even
brushed with scarlet many of the shrubs and vines, until they glowed
with a warm color against the green background.
The pine trees had shed their needles, making a carpet soft as velvet,
where woodland elves might revel or the god Pan practice upon his
pipes, laughing nymphs dancing to the music.
Is there anything in nature more companionable than a mountain brook?
It has its moods both grave and gay, and is as fickle as a schoolgirl.
At times it chuckles at you in a musical undertone as you walk along
its banks, and again it seems to warn you from trespassing on its
preserves, scolding in a shrill falsetto as it dodges under the roots
of a fallen tree, or dives among the lilypads, as if to hide from
your sight. But when it swirls down the eddy, and comes to rest by an
overhanging rock, where the shadows are dark and the water deep, its
song is hushed, as if in fear of disturbing the wary trout that lie in
hiding in the depths of the pool.
[Illustration: WHERE THE SHADOWS ARE DARK]
This is a likely place for fish, and I put my rod together and cast my
flies, dropping them as lightly as a thistledown, and using all my
skill, but no trout rise to my lure; this is evidently their day off,
or my flies are too palpable a subterfuge to tempt a self-respecting
Sitting on a log, one end of which projects over the stream, I watch a
dragon-fly, or darning needle, float over the water, his flight so
swift my eyes can hardly follow it. At last it stops in front of me,
perfectly poised for a second, but with wings in rapid motion, then
darts away to perform its acrobatic feat of standing on its head on a
lilypad, or to feast on the gnats and other insects that it captures
while on the wing. Truly it is rightly named a dragon.
The whirligig-beetles, those social little black fellows, gather in
large numbers and chase each other round and round in graceful curves,
skating over the water as if enjoying a game of tag.
Leaving the beetles at their game, I come to a place where the brook
seems to hesitate on the brink of a mimic waterfall, as if afraid to
take the dive, but like a boy unwilling to take a dare, it plunges
over the brink to the pool below, with gurgling laughter, in a perfect
ecstasy of bravado.
A leaf drops from an overhanging bough, falling so lightly that it
barely makes a ripple, then sails away like a mimic ship to far-off
ports, dancing along at every caprice of the fitful current; only to
be stranded at last, cast away like a shipwrecked galleon, on some
[Illustration: ON BEAR CREEK]
In the shadows the brook seems to have a more solemn tone, in keeping
with its somber surroundings, singing its song to the white-petaled
saxifrage that peeps out at it over the bed of maidenhair fern, or the
bright-leaved water cress; then flashing out into the sunlight, and,
like a boy out of school, romping and laughing in utter abandon.
Flowering currants, with rose-pink clusters of blossoms, line the
banks, scattering their fragrance far and near. The rancorous cry of
the catbird, and the rattling call of the kingfisher, that feathered
spirit of the stream, are left behind; the clear flutelike notes of
the meadow lark take their place, and the hills, covered with wild
flowers, roll back from its margin, as if to make room for its
The Western bluebird floats across the meadow like a flashing
sapphire, and the lark-sparrow pours forth his melody, as he teeters
up and down on a weed stalk.
But at night the brook is heard at its best, when it performs its
symphonies for the flickering moonlight that nestles upon its bosom,
and the stars that reflect their lamps on its surface.
Make your camp on its margin and when your fire burns low, and you
draw your blanket around you, with the mountain brook singing its
lullaby, and the vesper sparrow chanting its melodious vesper hymn,
you can say with the psalmist, "I will both lay me down in peace and
sleep," and you might add, "lulled by the song of the mountain brook."
The Song of the Reel
Close by the edge of the lily pads,
there's a flash and swirl of spray,
And the line draws taut, and the rod dips
low, and I sing as he speeds away;
And I whir and click with the joy of life, as
the line runs in and out,
And I laugh with glee as I reel him in, the
gamy and speckled trout.
And again the silken line is cast, and the fly
like a feather glides,
Close to the rock where the water's deep, and
the wary black bass hides.
There's a strike and a run as the game is
hooked, and his rush with a snub is met,
But he yields at last to the steady strain, and
is brought to the landing net.
As the sun sinks low in the western sky, and
the shadows longer grow,
And the night hawk wheels in his silent flight,
and the crickets draw their bow,
And the cat-tails wave in the gentle breeze,
and the boat glides on apace;
Then I reel in the line, while the bamboo rod
is laid away in its case.
The bass and the trout, and the wall-eyed pike,
the pickerel and muskalonge,
Have each and all been lost or won as I caused
them to race or plunge,
I'm the sportsman's friend, and a foeman bold,
and I've filled full many a creel;
For what would the fisherman's luck be worth
without the song of the reel?
The Old Road
There is an old road that I love to follow. If one may judge by
appearances, it is but slightly used by travelers, for it seems to
lead nowhere, and is quite content in its wanderings, winding through
canons, over hills, and down valleys. I am told by one who ought to
know--for he is an old resident--that if you follow its tortuous
course far enough, it will lead you to a town called Walnut Creek, but
I cannot vouch for the truth of this assertion, as I have never found
a town or hamlet along its winding course. In fact, I remember but one
place of abode along its entire length, and this, a weather-beaten
cottage nearly hidden by the pepper and acacia trees that surround it.
It is a quaint little place, and might have inspired the poet to
write that beautiful poem containing the lines,
Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
And be a friend to man,
for the cooling draught passed out to me one hot afternoon from this
house would certainly class the occupant as a benefactor.
The dew was sparkling on the grass when I set out in the early
morning, gossamer spider webs strung from leaf and stem glistened in
the sunlight, and up from a tuft of grass a meadow lark sprang on
silent wing, scattering his silvery notes, a paean of praise to the
A bluebird's notes blend with those of the song sparrow, and a robin
swinging on the topmost branch of a eucalyptus, after a few short
notes as a prelude, pours forth a perfect rhapsody of melody.
At this place a hill encroaches upon the road at the right, covered
thickly with underbrush and blackberry vines, its crest surmounted
with a stately grove of eucalyptus trees, while on the left there is
an almost perpendicular drop to the valley below. So narrow is the
road that teams can hardly pass each other. Why it should crowd
itself into such narrow quarters when there is room to spare is its
Stretching its dusty length along, it soon broadens out as if glad to
escape from its cramped quarters, and glides under the wide spreading
branches of a California buckeye, which stands kneedeep in the
beautiful clarkia, with its rose-pink petals, and wand-like stalks of
the narrow-leaved milkweed, with silken pods bursting with fairy sails
ready to start out on unknown travels.
[Illustration: THE OLD ROAD]
Leaving the shade, it climbs the hill for a broader view of the
surrounding landscape, and looks down on the bay on one side, and the
rolling hills and valleys on the other. Yellow buttercups nod to it
from the meadow, and the lavender snap dragons wave their threadlike
fingers in silent greeting. Tall, stately teasels stand like
sentinels along the way, and the balsamic tarweed spreads its
fragrance along the outer edge.
Threading its way down a steep hill; through a wealth of tangled
grasses; past a grove of live oaks, from whose twisted and contorted
limbs the gray moss hangs in long festoons, by Indian paintbrush and
scarlet bugler gleaming like sparks of fire amid the green and bronze
foliage, it glides at last into a somber canon. There a bridge spans
the brook that gurgles its elfin song to cheer the dusty traveler on
The laurel, madrone, and manzanitas keep it company for some distance
on either side, and a catbird mews and purrs from a clump of willows
on the margin of the stream. A dozen or more yellow-winged butterflies
gathered at a moist spot, scatter like autumn leaves before a gust of
wind at my approach, dancing away on fairy wings like golden sunbeams.
[Illustration: IT CLIMBS THE HILL FOR A BROADER VIEW]
At a place where the road makes a bend to the right, and the cat-tails
and rushes grow in profusion, a blue heron, that spirit of the marsh,
stands grotesque and sedate, and gazes with melancholy air into the
water. Bullfrogs pipe, running the whole gamut of tones from treble to
bass, hidden away amid the water grasses. Darning needles dodge in and
out among the rushes in erratic flight, and a blackbird teeters up and
down on a tulle stem while repeating over and over his pleasant
But the road does not stop to look or listen, and once more it climbs
the hill where the golden poppy basks in the sunshine, and the
dandelions spread their yellow carpet for it to pass over, or, nodding
silken heads scatter their tiny fleet of a hundred fairy balloons upon
the wings of the summer winds.
Down the road, whistling blithely, comes a slip of a boy, with fishing
rod, cut from the adjacent thicket, over his shoulder and a can of
bait tucked securely under his arm, happy as a king in anticipation of
the fish he may never catch. At his heels trots contentedly a yellow
dog. True companions of the highway are they, for no country road
would be complete without its boy and dog, and as I pass them I call
back, "Good luck, my doughty fisherman," and the road answers--or was
it an echo?--"Good luck, good luck."
But at last the shadows creep down canon and hillside, the soft light
of evening touches the tops of tree and shrub with a rosy splendor,
shading from green to gold, from gold to purple; and through the
gathering dusk the road sinks into the surrounding gloom, toiling on
in silence with only the stars for company, and the lights from
firefly lanterns to guide it on its lonely way.
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