Twenty Hill Hollow

Location: California Central Valley, USA.

Recent — 2014

This image comes from an anonymous blog written by someone who works in interpretation at Yosemite National Park. It shows a portion of Twenty Hill Hollow. (For other images, visit the blog.) The writer visited this area in late February 2014, mainly to watch birds, and describes the landscape admiringly, knowing the link to John Muir.

“My favorite part was when we all found a place to sit and spent a few minutes in quiet reflection to get a real ‘John Muir’ feel of the place. I picked a spot facing the distant mountains. In the quiet, the solitude and rolling green was mesmerizing.”

It’s nice, but it’s basically all grass.

Baseline — 1918

“At the end of January, four plants were in flower: a small white cress, growing in large patches; a low-set, umbeled plant, with yellow flowers; an eriogonum, with flowers in leafless spangles; and a small boragewort. Five or six mosses had adjusted their hoods, and were in the prime of life. In February, squirrels, hares, and flowers were in springtime joy. Bright plant-constellations shone everywhere about the Hollow. Ants were getting ready for work, rubbing and sunning their limbs upon the husk-piles around their doors; fat, pollen-dusted, “burly, dozing humble-bees” were rumbling among the flowers; and spiders were busy mending up old webs, or weaving new ones. Flowers were born every day, and came gushing from the ground like gayly dressed children from a church. The bright air became daily more songful with fly-wings, and sweeter with breath of plants.

In March, plant-life is more than doubled. The little pioneer cress, by this time, goes to seed, wearing daintily embroidered silicles. Several claytonias appear; also, a large white leptosiphon[?], and two nemophilas. A small plantago becomes tall enough to wave and show silky ripples of shade…

…If you wish to see how much of light, life, and joy can be got into a January, go to this blessed Hollow. If you wish to see a plant-resurrection, — myriads of bright flowers crowding from the ground, like souls to a judgment, — go to Twenty Hills in February. If you are traveling for health, play truant to doctors and friends, fill your pocket with biscuits, and hide in the hills of the Hollow, lave in its waters, tan in its golds, bask in its flower-shine, and your baptisms will make you a new creature indeed.”

John Muir, from Chapter 9 of “A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf”

John Muir wrote multiple times about this location. I picked just one text, and am showing just the sections about early in the year to match the time of the photograph.

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