If you live in Madera County, a book you need to read is one published this year by the Yosemite Conservancy: “Inspiring Generations — 150 years, 150 stories in Yosemite.”
The book isn’t little. It’s a 406-page trade paperback of letters, essays and poems written by people who have been in various ways smitten over the years by the beauty and wonder of Yosemite National Park. Many of the essays are stories, some are reflections on nature and others are comical. The poetry runs the gamut from doggerel to free verse. I prefer the doggerel.
The book also is replete with photos of the park, and of people and animals enjoying it.
Some 400 individuals set their memories on paper as part of the story contest that became the book, according to the volume’s acknowledgments. Of the 400 submissions, 150 were chosen for inclusion. All the 400 remain, however, in the Yosemite National Park archives.
There are stories about people relating to animals — scaring bears and being scared by them and by snakes. One story, about a man who caught a snake and ran with it, is hilarious.
Yosemite seems to be about love. People fall in love with the park — and they fall in love IN the park. The park becomes a scene of engagements and weddings. It becomes a part of people’s families.
The photos are mostly old ones, black-and-white prints taken when people went to the park in Model T Fords and old trucks. They show families camping in groups, in tents, of course, beside campfires and cooking setups.
Much is said about something you don’t see in the park anymore — the firefalls. Those occurred when burning coals were thrown over the fall at Glacier Point. Now, we can’t do that, thanks to those darned environmentalists. But you can read about it, and many of the wonders of Yosemite, in this remarkable book.
I’m not sure where “Inspiring Generations — 150 years, 150 stories in Yosemite” can be bought. But if you try Barnes and Noble in Fresno, or Amazon.com, you should be able to get hold of it. The cost is $19.95, with a certain amount going to the conservancy to help the park.
You may see the book in many places this year, which is the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant, which made the park possible.