[Charles Sprague] Sargent
Martinez, June 7, 1898.
My dear Prof. Sargent.
Yesterday I returned from a weeks trip to Shasta & the Scott Mountains for magnifica flowers but am again in bad luck. I searched the woods wallowing through the snow nearly to the upper limit of the fir belt but saw no flowers or buds that promised any except on a few trees. I cut down six on Shasta & two on Scott Mtns nest of Sissons. On one of the Shasta trees I found the staminate flrs just emerging from the scales but not a single pistillate flr. I send the staminate though hardly worth while. Last years crop of cones was nearly all frost killed & most of the leaf buds also so there is little chance for flrs thereabouts this year.
Sonne writes that the Truckee Lumber Co. is to begin cutting magnifica in the Washoe Range 10 miles East of Truckee on the 8th or 10th of this month & he promises to be promptly on hand among the fresh felled trees to get
the flowers. While Miss Eastwood starts this evening for the Sierra summit above Truckee & I have a friend in Yosemite watching the trees around the rim of the valley, so we can hardly fail to get good flrs even in so bad a year as this.
I have got through the first reading of your pine volume. It is bravely sturdily handsomely done. Grand old ponderosa you have set forth in magnificent style describing its many forms & allowing species makers to name as many as they like. While showing their inseparable characters. But you should have mentioned the thick scaly uninflammable bark with which like a wandering warrior of King Arthurs time it is clad, as accounting in great part for its wide distribution & endurance of extremes of climate. You seem to rank it above the Sugar Pine, But in youth & age clothed with beauty & majesty Lambertiana is easily King of all the worldwide realm of pines while ponderosa is the noble unconquerable mailed knight without fear and without reproach.
By brave & mighty Proteus-Muggins you have also done well, though you might have praised him a little more loudly for hearty endurance under manifold hardships - defying the salt blasts of the sea from Alaska to the California Golden Gate, & the frosts and fires of the Rocky Mountains - growing patiently in mossy bogs & craggy mountain tops - crouching low on glacier granite pavements, holding on by narrow cleavage joints, or waving tall & slender & graceful in flowery garden spots sheltered from every wind among columbines & lilies, etc. A line or two of sound sturdy Mother Earth poetry such as you ventured to give ponderosa in nowise weakens or blurs the necessarily dry stubbed scientific description, & I'm sure Muggins deserves it. However I'm not going fault finding. It's a grand volume - a Kingly Lambertiana job, & on many a mountain top trees now seedlings will be giants and will wave their shining tassels two hundred feet in the sky ere another pine book will be made - so you may well sing your nunc dimittis, & so in sooth may I since you have engraved my name on the head of it.
That Alleghany trip you so kindly offer is mighty tempting. It has stirred up wild lovers longings to renew my acquiantance with old forest friends & gain new ones under such uncomparable auspices. I'm just dying to see basswood & shell bark & liriodendron once more. When could you start, & when would you have me meet you? I think I might get away from here about the middle of July & go around by the great northern & lakes, stopping a few days on old familiar ground about the shores of Georgian Bay. I want to avoid cities & dinners as much as possible & travel light & free. If tree lovers could only grow bark & bread on their bodies how fine it would be, making even handbags useless!
While trying to avoid people as much as possible & seeing only you & trees I should if I make this eastern trip want to call on Mrs. Asa Gray for I heartly love and admire Gray & in my mind his memory fades not at all.
1898 Jun 7
Original letter dimensions unknown.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to [Charles Sprague] Sargent, 1898 Jun 7." (1898). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 2098.
Reel 10, Image 0185
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