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Photo H. C. Tibbitts
THERE are times, and they do not come often, when the cup of our life is full to the brim, and one added drop would be too much; when the heart swings to the deepest throb, when speech is forgotten in divine
communion, and the soul mounts to the heights of the infinite. How long this lasts we never afterwards can say. Such an interval as this is a sunset in Yosemite.
All sense of time is lost in the golden enchantment, the overpowering sense of sublimity, of awful majesty, of sheer, brutal strength and power, of softness and light and warmth, of intrinsic beauty, fantastic loveliness, and charm beyond compare. Fairyland itself must be somewhere out there in the golden glow of the sunset. Rolling stretches of flower-strewn meadows, broad seas of green grass rippling away in emerald waves, row after row of tall, magnificent trees quivering in a shower of sunlight. Rising from the river in gray gossamer shapes the mist goes curling, smoky, diaphanous, mysterious, as though graves beneath the water are giving up their ghosts.
From high overhead a bird bursts into rhapsody, singing a paean of praise to the glory that is Yosemite; another, and another, until their songs merge into one, and the passionate, poignant sweetness of one of Schubert's serenades seems to drip from the eerie heights to linger vibrantly upon the mellow air and melt reluctantly at last into throbbing silence.
Embattled 'round the rim of the Valley, too rosy and golden, and purple and blue, for anything but the towers and turrets, and palaces, of some enchanted land, the majestic mountains rear their hoary snow-crowned heads. While bands of rose and saffron, and bloody reds, and lurid purples, are melting into liquid gold and gilding all the forest with their radiance, the molten sun, swimming
in a haze of glory, turns red before slipping from sight, staying the receding fingers of its luminous hand as if hesitant to depart. Five thousand feet above the Valley floor, the majestic bulk of Half Dome is burnished by the last golden rays reflected from the snow-capped peaks above. Twilight creeps into the Valley, an advancing army robed in royal purple. Stars stud the heavens, a pale moon appears on the horizon; in an instant the day has vanished and murky dusk has come,
Night falls like a soft concealing curtain about you, crickets and katydids sing a dreamy chorus, out in the gloomy dusk a coyote raises his nose to the moon and voices the age-old protest of his race against the loneliness and sorrow of their lot, the breezes bring a faint perfume from flower-spangled fields, the trees softly shed their blighted leaves and sigh together over the folly of the world. Night and the stars and dusky isolation; a wild longing to turn back the years, to wipe out the ugly, blundering stains of mistakes and follies, to begin again and to build grandly, surely, relentlessly, with wanton prodigality of strength and material. And, though blinded, groping hands reach ever for a mirage, though years in their cycle of flight leave arms clasping only pallid mocking ghosts of disillusion, the spell that is Yosemite is proof against all disillusionment, and though you may never visit the Valley again, the bond her beauty has woven into your very soul will never be broken.