The Yosemite, California and Sierra Nevada
A three to four hour drive from San Francisco Airport to the Yosemite.
The scenic route. When you see this valley, and stop on the way where white waterfalls constantly refresh a deep blue pool gradating to viridian, there's a little beach of white sand. In July the sand is often too hot to walk on with bare feet, but you can cool off by swimming in the pristine river, and let yourself be taken a little by the current. You would think you are in Paradise. And you are.
'Yosemite' originates from Yohhe'meti (Southern Miwok) or Yos s e'meti (Central Miwok). Yos, means 'to kill', Yos e meti therefore signifies 'those who kill'. The Miwok tribes designated this term to tribes of the Yosemite Valley whom they feared. It's said that the Miwok were more peace loving than the Yosemite tribes. But history also depends on who records it.
The Yosemite National Park has always attracted artists and photographers. I recently read an article in the summer 2013 magazine, 'National Parks', kindly given me. It referred to Chiura Obata, a Japanese water-colour artist who moved to San Francisco in 1903 from Tokyo where he had studied art.
He fell in love with the Yosemite, and was so taken by this fabulous master-piece of Nature, (the most determining work of which spans more than ten million years) that based on what he saw and was inspired by, he accomplished what is considered to be his best work.
It's said that he combined Asian techniques with Western techniques. It's true that he applied his washes freely on rice paper, and later produced wood-blocks, but I'm inclined to believe that in his own personal way he simply painted what pleased him. Naturally the Yosemite can't be really be compared to natural Japanese landscapes, although certainly the latter has inspired many great Japanese artists over the centuries, who also immortalised the sources of their inspiration.
With Obata one also alludes to Zen philosopy, but no matter an artist's origin, sincere appreciation and respect for the unfathomable works of nature, has to englobe the essence of most philosophies, as well as a profound spiritual perception.
But before attempting to immortalise anything, one first has to learn how to see. In 1932 Obata was employed to teach art at the University of California. The most essential aspect of his teaching was how to see and appreciate the works of nature.
In spite of the alleged ferocity of the native tribes, a reputation which curiously clashes with the beauty of the Yosemite; on seeing such magnificent landscape, it's not hard to imagine why the natives of such parts of North America, the 'Indians', as we still erroneously call them, (thanks to Christopher Columbus who preferred to pretend he had reached the East Indies rather than claim to have made the glorious discovery a great, new western continent) had such a deep respect for nature and its laws. It's not hard to appreciate why they would so closely identify themselves with this beauty, and integrally develop their culture, philosophy and deep, spiritual faith in total harmony with their environment, its wild life and its seasons. It's not difficult to understand why they, the Ahwahneechee, for example, felt they had to try to defend their land against intruders. especially the ignorant, the disrespectful and the greedy (contenders of the gold rush). Although
in the middle of the nineteenth century, European settlers and opportunists, would be far more inclined to defend the right of gold miners, than the natural, usufruct right of the native Ahwahneechee or Yosemite tribes.
Yet in spite of the ignorant and the greedy, those incapable of really appreciating any form of earthly Paradise, such beauty is conserved for posterity so that future generations can see, feel and appreciate. And this is a very comforting thought.
In retrospect, being fully aware of how much more there is to see and appreciate in the USA, how much more incomparable diversity there is in this great continent, one is overwhelmed.
No words can adequately convey this. Perhaps it can be 'effleuré' to a small extent by evoking the reminiscences of gazing across the Grande Canyon at sunset, or by admiring a majestic, eons-old mountain towering above the Yosemite Valley, the top from which flows a glittering cascade; and simply smiling.
Visitors to the Yosemite who would like more time then we had to explore the park, could contact John and Brenda, at Fort Nip Trail, Ahwahnee. Be assured you will be very well received by them. firstname.lastname@example.org
Text and photographs © Mirino (PW). Examples of the water-colours of Chiura Obata (1885-1975). The above Yosemite photos include two of the Yosemite Blue Jay.
With thanks also to Wikipedia for additional information. July, 2013