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Some Impressions of Southern California.
of drought, continue to put out its
[Feb. Water is found there without stint or measure, and the climate bears little or no resemblance to that of the plains and foothills below. Hence many people who miss the procession of the seasons, and feel the need of a bracing change, find their way into the mountains during some part of the year; and if they are strong enough to enjoy camp life, or rich enough to take servants with them to see to all the details of the little establishment, then they will come back greatly invigorated, especially if they have had the pride and satisfaction of laying low some harmless deer! less deer! But camping for frail folk is a mistake; and doctors, far away from these scenes, sitting comfortably in their arm-chairs, with all their needs luxuriously attended to, are apt to give out this order much too thoughtlessly. They have not themselves tried it perhaps, except under more favourable conditions than those which some of their patients might be able to command.
In speaking of the scenery of Southern California, one must certainly not forget to mention the enormous granite boulders and lavish supply of stones, interesting no doubt to the geologist, but the despair of the fruit-grower and of the lover of beauty. Mrs Collier Graham, in her charming little volume Stories of the Foothills,' makes one of her characters refer thus to the soil: "He said the soil was good. An' I 'lowed it was what there was of it; and so was boulders good, for boulders -the trouble was in the mixin'! 'Don't talk to me about your decomposed granite; it's the granite what ain't decomposed that bothers me."" That exactly describes the feelings of any rancher who happens to be the unfortun
Some Impressions of Southern California.
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 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 experi corrodes 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,1 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?"
But in spite of dust and boulders and burnt-up brush and heat and glare, there are many delightful things in Southern California
minds us that nothing we could dream of could be more beautiful And speaking of the ocean rethan 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.
ate possessor of too many boulders. And as features of the landscape they are only tolerable when, after sunset, that beautiful rosy glow, quite peculiar to the south, holds them in a tender embrace: then they are softened and glorified if only for a passing moment; and those of us who come from a land of purple heather may well believe that these barren stones have suddenly burst out into blossom, just for the passing moment, Nature's compensation. But the next day, in the full glare of the sun, some of us think there is nothing romantic or picturesque about them. It is possible to drive for miles in some parts, and see nothing but stones and boulders and dried-up brush and shabby-looking cactus, and dust without beginning or end. The dust in Southern California in summer-time after a dry winter is really quite overwhelming; it not only eats into clothes, but corrodes tempers as well, and gets into noses, and throats, and chests. It rises up into the buggy in great curling waves, thickly powdering every one from top to toe. Enthusiastic Californians pretend not to notice it, but it exists all the same, even although it is not mentioned in the guidebooks. It seems almost impossible to realise that beautiful flowers of every different form and hue are nestling beneath this ugly covering. When one sees it at first, one may well be forgiven for asking, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
But in spite of dust and boulders and burnt-up brush and heat and glare, there are many delightful things in Southern California
even during the hottest summer: then it is that the mountains look at their very best towards the hour of sunset and after the setting of the sun, all the crudeness and harshness of their features being tempered and softened by the tender glow and glamour. Then it is that we most enjoy the lovely moonlight evenings, and then too we know that we may reckon safely on the coolness of the nights. So whilst in other parts of America people are stricken down by the summer heat of both day and night, out here in Southern California prostration from the heat is scarcely known, and certainly never on the coast; and, moreover, there is something in the climate which peculiarly aids recuperation from any kind of exhaustion. It is quite possible that new-comers from cooler and damper regions who have not had to contend with the great extremes of cold and heat experienced in most parts of the United States-new-comers from England, in fact, and other countries of Europe-may find the dry heat somewhat trying. It is perhaps hard on the brain and the nerves,1 and any invalids suffering from the effects of overwork or from weakness of the nervous system should be strongly advised, if they come to Southern California at all, to make their home on the coast, or not too far inland, so as to be within reach of the breeze which with unfailing freshness sweeps over from the ocean during all the
And speaking of the ocean reminds us that nothing we could dream of could be more beautiful 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 snow - white surf. It is almost an ideal of purity and perfection. It is a smiling, dancing sea with life and light and love of sunshine; and all the exquisite tints of a Californian sunset are caught by the glistening foam, which then exchanges its wonderful whiteness for all the fairy colours of mother-of-pearl. To sit on the rocks and watch this sea is a joy in itself; and for those who like to pry and probe, there are the fairy pools lined with every shade of delicate and rich green and pink and heliotrope, and inhabited by numberless crabs, all of them in handsome attire well suited to their most artistic homes. Seals will sometimes sport around, barking loudly to each other; goldfish flash by, their burnished coats glittering in the sunshine. Grave and stately pelicans fly overhead; cormorants and sea-gulls hasten to and fro, or linger on the broad stretch of kelp beyond to do their fishing. These wide belts of kelp are quite peculiar to the Pacific coast; they seem to be like great fields of golden-brown strands of leaves and berries swaying with the movement of the waves. Even the large steamers do not attempt to cut their way through them, so dense is the growth anchored firmly to the ocean - bed. But leaning over the side of the vessel, one has a great pleasure in seeing such an expanse of rich colouring toning so harmoniously with the beautiful blue of the ocean; and to those of us who love to observe the many charming expressions of nature, this scene will perhaps be one of the pleasantest memories of the sea-journey from San Francisco down to the south.
ing the southern part of the State; and indeed if the weather is fine, as it usually is, the voyage is nothing else except a pleasure trip. Immediately after passing Point Concepcion, we realise that we have come into a southern clime, and we almost seem to see a distinct line of demarcation separating the northern gloom from the southern glamour. Then at once we begin to see the porpoises playing about, and the flying-fish springing out of the water, looking just like rainbow gossamer as the sunlight catches them. Then we begin to have exaggerated hopes of the beauty of the country awaiting us; for all unconsciously we are filled with a sensuous delight in the genial warmth and glow and tender colouring. As we approach nearer, however, we at once miss the green; and this is especially true of San Diego, and is all the more to be regretted, since there is no reason why every town in the south should not be a living mass of trees, or why San Diego herself, with her wonderful harbour and her beautiful natural situation, should not become a very queen amongst cities. In a land where peppers and eucalyptus and acacias and magnolias and rubbers and palms and Norfolk Island pines and camphors grow up with breathless speed, there seems little or no excuse for not taking every opportunity of making ideal surroundings and conditions for a town, the climate of which both in summer and winter is wellnigh perfect. A great deal, of course, has been done for this city, and other cities too, and some of us, less patient perhaps than is seemly, require to be reminded frequently that the country is only in its infancy; but for all that, we persist in saying that,
Many people consider that this is the most agreeable way of reach
considering the easy possibilities, not half enough has been attempted or carried through. But every season makes a difference now: people who love beauty and will have it, are finding their way to San Diego and raising their standard there, and before very long the rose-gardens of pretty sleepy Santa Barbara will find some dangerous rivals. Before very long, too, pride and public spirit will surely conquer hindering circumstances, and then we may look for cooling fountains and green resting-places and plenty of shade, and a generous supply of easy benches either for invalids or for the indolent, and perhaps a beautiful boulevard sweeping round the whole extent of the bay, and making a noble drive such as few cities in the world could command.
With regard to the choice of any special part of Southern California for permanent residence or lengthened stay, the climates of the different counties are so different themselves that the wisest plan is to give a fair trial to several of the neighbourhoods. Probably San Diego county would be found to be the most satisfactory for an all-the-year-round home. The climate and beautiful position of Coronado Island attract visitors from all parts of the world. The hotel looks right down on the splendid rollers of the Pacific, and the air from that pure summer sea is particularly soft and caressing. Los Angeles has all the advantages of being a go-ahead ambitious town within reach of delightful scenery. Riverside is a town of old-established ranches, with plenty of social life and outdoor sport. Pasadena is a charming suburb of Los Angeles spreading along the San Gabriel valley, and having the stately
Sierra Madre Range for its protecting deity. Santa Barbara, very similar in situation to Mentone, is specially attractive, greener than most places in Southern California, a very fairyland of flowers, and with foothills which in springtime are covered with a scented mantle of the yellow wild-mustard. And certainly one must not forget the Ojai valley, and the still more beautiful Santa Paula valley, which is apt to remind one of bits of England and Wales.
So we can take our choice and move on until the right requirements are found. Visitors and invalids with ample means do not need any words of warning; it is easy enough for them to change their plans. But people who are coming from older countries to settle in Southern California cannot be too strongly urged to pause awhile before pitching their tents anywhere. The conditions of life in the West are so utterly different from those found in the Old World, that it is quite impossible to realise what one is giving up, and whether one is likely to get a sufficient compensation in climate and circumstance and chances of success. These remarks do not, of course, apply to the so-called labouring classes of Europe or the Eastern States of America; they lose nothing and gain everything by coming out to a new country. Southern California is a paradise for them, and means good living, good wages, and good opportunities of rising as high as they choose. But for the gently nurtured, and for those who have been within reach of artistic and intellectual satisfaction, it is altogether a different matter. These wants will make themselves felt, however gallantly one may contend with them, and there is a starva
tion of the soul just as possible as the starvation of the body. These are the people who will probably suffer from that sad illness, homesickness, and it is for them that these words are specially written. From all that one can gather about the subject, it would seem to be a mistake for middle-aged folk to uproot themselves from their old surroundings, and venture into these new pastures. It goes much better if intending settlers come when they are young enough to leave no regrets behind, and bringing only the brightest and freshest of hopes untarnished by old memories. And there is no doubt whatsoever that it is a mistake, if not a cruelty, to bring delicate women out to ranch life, unless there are ample means to pay the very large sums asked and given for household help. It is absurd to talk of the advantages of any climate from Dan to Beersheba itself, if a woman is to be weighed down by hard physical work, such as house-cleaning and washing and baking, for which she has not been trained, and which hitherto has probably never come into her horizon. As a woman herself, the writer of these few pages may be pardoned for laying particular stress on the dangers and sufferings liable to arise through ignorance of these really important facts.
It is pleasant to turn away from sombre thoughts, and briefly enumerate some of the more familiar animals and birds and insects found in Southern California. The humming-bird is one of our most welcome friends in the country. A quarrelsome little fellow with his own kind, and very masterful, he is nevertheless easily tamed. Meadowlarks abound everywhere, cheerfully singing, according to reliable authority, the
words, "Drink out of a bottle, bottle!" We shall find blue-jays, and orioles, and finches, and butcher-birds, canaries and groundowls, and yellow - hammers, and mocking-birds, and robins, and doves, and thrushes, and woodpeckers, and many kinds of sparrows, and a few wrens. The most characteristic bird of California is the chaparral cock, or paisano, or road-runner, which can be made into a great pet, and is seldom shot at. The turkey buzzard, majestic in its flight, is a well-known feature of the landscape. Quail are plentiful both in the valleys and on the hills, and are delicious food if properly cooked. Ants of many varieties hold possession of the land, and may be seen busy at work all the day long, out of the house and inside too, unless one keeps a ruthless look-out. The tarantula spider is an enormous creature, and is said to give as poisonous a bite as the rattlesnake. Centipedes and scorpions are found, and of course lizards. The pretty little horned toads are quite harmless. The snakes are for the most part harmless, except the rattlesnakes, of which there are two kinds, a dark grey and black, and a red. They are not aggressive, and desire only to be left alone. When once the ground has been cleared, they disappear, creeping up to the hot rocky barren hilltops, their favourite dwellingplaces. But we cannot be too cautious how we tread when once the main road has been abandoned, for their colour harmonises both with the sage-brush and the dry earth, and it is quite easy to step on them unawares. Still they are very easily killed; in fact, the barefooted children running to school kill them with a well-aimed stone or a long stick or whip, and think