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SOME IMPRESSIONS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.1
BY BEATRICE HARRADEN.
Southern CALIFORNIA has to be all possess, if we only choose to known well before it can be loved ; use it, of transforming the brushand even when it is thoroughly ap- grown plains and hills into a fair preciated for its many delightful and fruitful garden-land. It is characteristics, there will often almost like a fairy story to see remain certain of its peculiarities what wonders may be wrought which may perchance jar on the from the very onset, and to mark sensitiveness of those accustomed how soon the willing earth answers to the tender charms of a more to an honest care. But she decaressing land. On the other mands devoted and hard workhand, the real beauties and ad- not the mere scratching of the vantages of the country and climate ground and the smoking of a are so obvious that one need not cigarette; and perhaps it is not hesitate to draw attention to some out of place here to insist specially features likely to prove a little on the truth of this statement for disappointing to any new-comers the benefit of those who have any who are looking for a land of idea of coming to Southern Caliwaving palm-trees and rich nat- fornia and taking up the onerous ural luxuriance and generous duties of ranch life.
It is one growth of green. Green there is thing to have done a little garand of the brightest emerald the dening at home, toying, no doubt, eye might wish to see; but it passes with a spade and a rake and a all too swiftly, burnt up by the watering-can; and quite another downpour of golden sunshine, and thing to start a fruit-farm, to gives place to every shade of deli- follow a plough or cultivator over cate brown and amber, which we virgin soil, and wield a heavy hoe learn to like well enough, only all day long, to the fierce heat and not as we love the blessed green. glare of the sun, and to evolve and Palms are there also, but not grow- carry out some scheme of irrigaing at random as some of us may tion, which often of necessity enhave feverishly fancied; man's tails endless trouble and anxiety. hand must plant and tend them, These are not light tasks, and and water them unceasingly. As should not therefore be undertaken for the rich luxuriance, it is lightly; but a judicious fulfilment there also or rather the pos- of them assures success to a man sibility of it
it is there under who has been wise enough to conthe dusty soil, waiting only for tent himself with a small ranch; our help and labour to give it a for it seems to be established bedevelopment, which for fulness yond any question that small and rapidity is nothing less than ranches conducted in a businessmiraculous. Indeed, one of the like fashion have
chance greatest pleasures in Southern of yielding fair returns, whereas California is the power which we the larger fruit - farms involve
Copyright, 1897, by Beatrice Harraden in the United States of America.
too much work and too much with its brown velvet centre and money.
its strong vanilla perfume; and Quite apart, however, from pecu- scores of others springing up to niary considerations, country life in take the place of those which die the south of California has a great down all too quickly. We must deal in it which is very delight- pay due tribute also to the rich ful: the riding and driving, the indigo larkspur, the lupins and sense of unrestrained freedom, the vetches, the brown and mauve pleasure in the wide-stretching lilies, the gilias, the red painter's
, plains and rolling foothills and brush, the wild pea of brilliant distant ranges of mountains, bare pink, the delicate shooting - star and uncompromising on a first in- with petals of white tinged with troduction, but taking on rare purple, the tiny baby - blue eyes, charms of light and shadow and one of the nemophila family, white southern glamour, when once the flowers, as many as you will, and slight acquaintance with them has some of them as wee as a pin's ripened into friendship.
head, and the pretty little blossoms Then there are the excursions of the alfilaria, which, together by moonlight, the sleeping out of with the blossoms of the elderdoors, the fragrances in the air berry, are the welcome harbingers wafted from the orange and lemon of spring. Later on in the season blossoms, and in the spring - time and in different parts of the south from the myriads of wild flowers, we shall find other treasures : the which, when aided by the winter Mariposa lily, so called because rains, leap into luxuriance charged of its likeness to a butterfly, and with divers sweetnesses. But if the Romnya, a monster poppy of the rainy season has been crinkled white satin, and the niggardly one, then we must needs thistle, a handsome and stately content ourselves with a few poor fellow indeed, and countless others, stragglers who serve just to re- some of them known only to those mind us of the treasures of gold of us who are able to climb up and blue and red and yellow and steep places or dive into deep purple and white laid at our feet cañons,—for one has to be fairly in such profusion during a previstrong to be a good botanist in
a ous year. Then we must dream Southern California. It is not of the fields of the flaming esch- enough to have a penetrating eye: scholtzia, the Californian poppy, one must be able to bear fatigue seen to perfection perhaps on the and heat and glare, and to have foothills of the San Gabriel valley, enough enthusiasm to fight sturdand covering the ground there ily through the dense chaparral, and elsewhere with a rich orange and enough caution to give a wide mantle : we must dream, too, of berth to those evil-looking fiends, the masses of brodea, pale laven- the rattlesnakes, who kill so easily, der in hue, toning in so softly but who themselves are so easily with the numberless yellow despatched. flowers; the yellow violet, with If, however, owing to a dry its peculiar Oriental fragrance; the winter, we have been cheated of gentle little cream-cup, paler than these many lovely wild - flowers, our beloved English primrose; the there at least remain certain conmarguerite of varying shade and solations which are not likely to form; the handsome leptosyne, fail us : the sumac will, in spite
of drought, continue to put out its Water is found there without stint tender shoots; the chillicote, with or measure, and the climate bears its bright fresh leaf and delicate little or no resemblance to that of white blossom, will spread itself the plains and foothills below. elegantly over anything within its Hence many people who miss the reach; the uncompromising cactus procession of the seasons, and feel will eke out its grim existence, the need of a bracing change, find offering us as a sort of apology its their way into the mountains most exquisite flowers, some yel during some part of the year; and low and some red. Various kinds if they are strong enough to enjoy of sages give of themselves gen- camp life, or rich enough to take erously, especially in the more servants with them to see to all southern parts of the State; we the details of the little establishshall find also the Spanish dagger ment, then they will come back or yucca, the manzanita, the greatly invigorated, especially if mountain mahogany with its stub- they have had the pride and satisborn roots, the very despair of faction of laying low some harmthose who have the irksome task less deer! But camping for frail of clearing the brush - grown
brush - grown folk is a mistake ; and doctors, ground; and higher up the scrub far away from these scenes, sitting oak and the grease-bush, and lower comfortably in their arm-chairs, down again the cucurbita or gourd, with all their needs luxuriously commonly called mock - orange, attended to, are apt to give out and the datura meteloides, a large this order much too thoughtlessly. pale violet flower full of delicious They have not themselves tried it fragrance. In the valleys and perhaps, except under more favourcañons near the river, or able conditions than those which what is called the river-for we some of their patients might be should scarcely realise that it is able to command. such until the winter rains swell In speaking of the scenery of the mountain torrents and rush Southern California, one must cerdown with overwhelming force tainly not forget to mention the into the dried-up river-bed in
enormous granite boulders and these valleys and cañons we shall lavish supply of stones, interestfind most comforting stretches of ing no doubt to the geologist, but green even during the hottest sum- the despair of the fruit-grower and mer: sycamores and cotton-wood of the lover of beauty. Mrs Coltrees, a few live oaks, abundance lier Graham, in her charming little of willows, grasses, and reeds, volume 'Stories of the Foothills,
' wild roses, and a perfect luxuriance makes one of her characters refer of the wild grape - vine, which thus to the soil : “He said the drapes itself artistically over soil was good. An' I 'lowed it trunks and branches, and climbs was—what there was of it; and as high as it desires. Up in the so was boulders good, for boulders mountains, of course, we
-the trouble was in the mixin'! into a totally different country "Don't talk to me about your and scenery : live oaks and pines decomposed granite; it's the granabound everywhere, and we there- ite what ain't decomposed that fore may not give the epithet bothers me.'” That exactly deof “treeless and barren” to this scribes the feelings of any rancher portion of Southern California. who happens to be the unfortun
ate possessor of too many boulders. even during the hottest summer : And as features of the landscape then it is that the mountains look they are only tolerable when, after at their very best towards the sunset, that beautiful rosy glow, hour of sunset and after the setquite peculiar to the south, holds ting of the sun, all the crudeness them in a tender embrace : then and harshness of their features they are softened and glorified being tempered and softened by if only for a passing moment; and the tender glow
the tender glow and glamour, those of us who come from a land Then it is that we most enjoy the of purple heather may well be- lovely moonlight evenings, and lieve that these barren stones then too we know that we may have suddenly burst out into reckon safely on the coolness of blossom, — just for the passing the nights: So whilst in other moment, Nature's compensation. parts of America people are strickBut the next day, in the full glare en down by the summer heat of of the sun, some of us think there both day and night, out here in is nothing romantic or picturesque Southern California prostration about them. It is possible to from the heat is scarcely known, drive for miles in some parts, and certainly never on the coast; and see nothing but stones and and, moreover, there is something boulders and dried-up brush and in the climate which peculiarly shabby - looking cactus, and dust aids recuperation from any kind without beginning or end. The of exhaustion. It is quite posdust in Southern California in sible that new-comers from cooler summer-time after a dry winter and damper regions who have not is really quite overwhelming; it had to contend with the great not only eats into clothes, but extremes of cold and heat expericorrodes tempers as well, and enced in most parts of the United gets into noses, and throats, and States-new-comers from England, chests. It rises up into the buggy in fact, and other countries of in great curling waves, thickly Europe— may find the dry heat powdering every one from top somewhat trying. It is perhaps to toe. Enthusiastic Californians hard on the brain and the nerves, pretend not to notice it, but it and any invalids suffering from exists all the same, even although the effects of overwork or from it is not mentioned in the guide- weakness of the nervous system books. It seems almost impos- should be strongly advised, if they sible to realise that beautiful come to Southern California at all, flowers of every different form to make their home on the coast, and hue are nestling beneath this or not too far inland, so as to be ugly covering. When one sees it within reach of the breeze which at first, one may well be forgiven with unfailing freshness sweeps for asking, “Can any good thing over from the ocean during all the come out of Nazareth ?”
summer. But in spite of dust and boul- And speaking of the ocean reders and burnt-up brush and heat minds us that nothing we could and glare, there are many delight dream of could be more beautiful ful things in Southern California than the blue waters of the Pacific,
1 This is quite a question, and is denied by doctors who have made the nervous system their special study.
with its most lovely fringe of ing the southern part of the State; snow - white surf. It is almost and indeed if the weather is fine, an ideal of purity and perfec- as it usually is, the voyage is nothtion. It is a smiling, dancing sea ing else except a pleasure trip. with life and light and love of Immediately after passing Point sunshine ; and all the exquisite Concepcion, we realise that we tints of a Californian sunset are have come into a southern clime, caught by the glistening foam, and we almost seem to see a diswhich then exchanges its wonder- tinct line of demarcation separatful whiteness for all the fairying the northern gloom from the colours of mother-of-pearl. To southern glamour. Then at once sit on the rocks and watch this we begin to see the porpoises sea is a joy in itself; and for playing about, and the flying-fish those who like to pry and probe, springing out of the water, lookthere are the fairy pools lined ing just like rainbow gossamer as with every shade of delicate and the sunlight catches them. Then rich green and pink and heliotrope, we begin to have exaggerated hopes and inhabited by numberless crabs, of the beauty of the country awaitall of them in handsome attire well ing us; for all uncon
onsciously we suited to their most artistic homes. are filled with a sensuous delight Seals will sometimes sport around, in the genial warmth and glow barking loudly to each other; gold- and tender colouring. As fish flash by, their burnished coats approach nearer, however, we at glittering in the sunshine. Grave once miss the green; and this is and stately pelicans fly overhead; especially true of San Diego, and is cormorants and sea-gulls hasten to all the more to be regretted, since and fro, or linger on the broad there is no reason why every town stretch of kelp beyond to do their in the south should not be a living fishing. These wide belts of kelp mass of trees, or why San Diego are quite peculiar to the Pacific herself, with her wonderful harbour coast; they seem to be like great and her beautiful natural situation, fields of golden-brown strands of should not become a very queen leaves and berries swaying with amongst cities. In a land where the movement of the waves. Even peppers and eucalyptus and acacias the large steamers do not attempt and magnolias and rubbers and to cut their way through them, palms and Norfolk Island pines so dense is the growth anchored and camphors grow up with firmly to the ocean - bed. But breathless speed, there seems little leaning over the side of the vessel, or no excuse for not taking every one has a great pleasure in seeing opportunity of making ideal sursuch an expanse of rich colouring roundings and conditions for a toning so harmoniously with the town, the climate of which both beautiful blue of the ocean ; and in summer and winter is wellto those of us who love to observe nigh perfect. A great deal, of the many charming expressions of course, has been done for this city, nature, this scene will perhaps be and other cities too, and some of one of the pleasantest memories of us, less patient perhaps than is the sea-journey from San Francisco seemly, require to be reminded down to the south.
frequently that the country is Many people consider that this only in its infancy; but for all is the most agreeable way of reach- that, we persist in saying that,