JAMES CLIFFORD SHIRLEY is exceptionally well
qualified to present pertinent and interesting information concerning the
Redwoods of Coast and Sierra. For five seasons he has been a member of
the Yosemite ranger-naturalist organization, and during four of these
summers he has been assigned to the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees.
Possessing a studious and inquiring mind, he has given numberless hours
to the study of the Big Trees, and has supplemented this with studies of
other groves, the reading of pertinent literature, and discussions with
many of the men and women who are unusually well informed on this
As a ranger-naturalist, Mr. Shirley's principal duty
has been informal lecturing upon the Sequoia to the hundreds of
thousands of visitors to Mariposa Grove from all parts of this country
and the world. Quite possibly, he has answered every thinkable question
about these trees (some of the answers inevitably being the simple
statement, "We do not know"). His knowledge of the things that people
desire to know about the Big Trees is reflected not only in his
material, but also in his painstaking preparation of it.
His book is presented with full confidence in its
factual content and with a strong conviction that a fuller knowledge of
these survivors of other epochs will lead to a deep feeling for their
beauty and their significance, and, in addition, a serious realization
of the necessity of their preservation for the pleasure and inspiration
of our children's children.
C. G. THOMSON
Superintendent of Yosemite National Park
MARIPOSA GRROVE MUSEUM AND SIERRA
REDWOOD, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, AND MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT FIELD
SCHOOL OF NATURAL HISTORY. Courtesy of Yosemite National
TREES LIKE GODS
They say that in California there are still many
giant sequoias (the big redwood trees) which were growing in the time
of David, and were fine trees at the time of Christ, and were really
worth looking at in the time of Shakespeare, and are world famous today,
and are still not at their best. I lay awake last night thinking of
it with a kind of awe, of that enormous blind calm power and will to
live. . . . I went afterwards to see those trees. . . . They are not like
trees, they are like spirits. The glens in which they grow are not like
places, they are like hauntshaunts of the centaurs or of the gods.
The trees rise up with dignity, power, and majesty, as though they had
been there forever. . . .Sometimes in cathedrals one feels the awe and
the majesty of columns. These columns were more impressive than anything
of stone; these columns were alive. They were more like gods than
anything I have ever seen. They seemed to be thinking. One felt that
presently they would march to wipe out everything mean or base or petty
here on earth. The stars shone about their heads like chaplets.
Excerpts from letters written
by the poet who is now the English poet laureate; from THE TAKING OF
HELEN AND OTHER PROSE SELECTIONS, by John Masefield. By permission of
the Macmillan Company, publishers.