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A Dweller on two Planets, Interlude 1






By Frederick S. Oliver, Amanuensis


If there are "sermons in stones and books in the running brooks," then is "Tchastel's" craggy pile a noble library in veritas. In it the vastness, the grandeur and the solemnity of, nature are expressed in mystic numbers carved in the eternal granite. On those stony, stratified pages Nature's students may read the doings of the gnomes, Mother Earth's treasurers. Here, too, in characters of lava, is writ Pluto's kingly record. Aye! 'tis indeed Nature's own volume, bound between covers of snow and ice; and marking the treasures thereof is a silvery ribbon whose ends hang out of the vast tome, at the north one end, at the south the other, the name of the one "McCloud" river, and of the other the "Sacramento." Again, two lesser markers are in this sublime epic, viz.: "Pitt" and 'Shasta" rivers. A volume of poems should bear poetic title; so shall this. Can we bestow one more appropriate than the aboriginal appellation, "Ieka," a name retained and used by the earliest white mer whose eyes gazed on that land, far northern California, land of romance, of gold and of adventure; retained through that intuitive recognition of eternal fitness which pioneer and trapper have ever, in all lands, exhibited toward existent nomenclature. For years the noble mountain bore, for white as for aborigine, the name it had fetched from out the night of time, as its sister peak far to the north, Mt. Rainier, retained its primal christening of "Tacoma." But, alas, for human conceit! Alas, for man's vain discontent, unable to let well enough alone! To the one snowy mount came a Russian trapper, and thereafter "Ieka" was no more on the tongues of men, unless, indeed, it was still lovingly murmured by the dusky Modoc and his savage bride. To the other glittering peak went an egotistic Englishman. His lordship found "Tacoma" so beastly savage, "doncher know," and so over its Indian appellate he tacked his own patronymic.


Time evens all things and "ever is justice done." The patriotic Americanism of the Northern Pacific Railroad topographers reinstated on the company maps musical "Tacoma," tossed to rubbish the imported name, and rebuked one egotist's vanity. That "Shasta Buttes" will ever know a parallel experience is problematical; if not, 'tis perhaps as well, for American gratitude willingly concedes the privilege of nomination of this proud peak to its friend, and, in the '60s, champion of our national autonomy -------- Russia. So much for a kind of mental view, past and present, of this pride of the crags and peaks.


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