Our place looks down on a culvert and every day, I sit outside in a chair and watch the animals. It’s not that we don’t have animals in the desert, it’s just that there’s so many more here. Blue jays, pesky squirrels and the even bigger pests…woodpeckers, black and white, some with red heads some without. We’ve seen deer, a coyote in my neighbor’s yard and a small bobcat pranced across my patio like he owned it.
We’ve found snakes on our daily trails and seen tarantulas everywhere on their yearly mating walk. One even crawled across my driveway in search of its soul mate. No, female tarantulas do not kill their mates. I looked it up. But the males do die within a year after mating. Their lifespan is much shorter than the females who can live up to thirty years and survive only on water for almost two years. That explains how they’ve done so well in this fourth year of drought when even the ants have disappeared.
I’ve always loved the California gold country and we’ve traveled through quaint towns with names that speak of their legacy in that tumultuous era. Chinese Camp, Sonora, Angel’s Camp where Mark Twain was inspired to write The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, the story that catapulted him to fame. Another famous writer, Bret Harte frequented the area and wrote what he saw in the camps and boomtowns of the Gold Rush. Even though they were not friends, Twain and Harte were forever united in the name of a small California resort town called Twain Harte.
Everyone says what a shame that there’s no water. We’re missing the beautiful waterfalls of Yosemite. But what sets this national park apart from others is the massive features of solid granite. El Capitan and Half Dome are incredible monuments of solid stone. The whole area is built upon granite…including those beautiful waterfalls.
I guess Mark Twain and Bret Harte aren't the only authors to be inspired by the area.