January 7 (1984, 1988, 2007)
Literary References

1/7/84   Before dawn at Moody Ridge. The Toyota has been down for a week, and though it's fixed now, I need $121.00 to get my hands on it. My Buddha-like equanimity has served me in good stead (stood in stead? )(is this English?) over this period, but the most of the credit must be assigned to our everlasting benefactor, the Sun. I have walked and tramped merrily the many miles between Moody Ridge and the Monte Vista, bathing all the while in sunshine, stripping my shirt off, grinning like some goddamned fool at anyone who happens to drive by.


I went down to Sacramento and the Fog with Matt Bailey. We attended a Sierra Club Conservation Committee meeting. About fifteen people were there.

I described the Lovers Leap park idea to them, and they will recommend official Sierra Club approval, so that we can use their name.

We, the
Friends of Lovers Leap And Giant Gap (FLAGG)
the Citizens Leaping In Full Faith (CLIFF)
the FRiends Of Giant Gap (FROGG)
Need to get a meeting together now.


[Russell Towle's journal]

1/7/88 Morning, a little before dawn, dark outside, snow drifting down, Scarlatti sparkling along, the fire with muted mumble near, the scattered books recline, Plato, Regular Polytopes, Lucretius, Cicero, Caesar, algebra, analytic geometry, forms in space, all so well-thumbed, well-read and enjoyed, all the bearers of marvels, of bright light, inspiration, somehow, Homer, silver-footed dawn, Alcibiades, continued fractions, the "golden" section, atoms, polyhedra, wine-dark seas of close-packing dodecahedra, and if there were a translation of Homer I would particularly like, it would translate, literally, the metaphors, let the verse go hang, let meter fall to incoherent pieces, only give me the metaphors as Homer himself conceived them...

Hmmm. It snows, and behind all these multitudes of snowing flakes, an indeterminate white fog hides everything, so that the cabin seems perched upon a tiny island in a sea of purely nothing, perhaps perched in the Himalayas, yes the monastic retreat I always feared this place would become. I was warned, by friends, not to put cart before my horses, to find my Woman first, find my Land second; heedless, I plunged, trusted to Luck, and as Luck would have it, here I am. Alone.

Later; sunset; fog still hangs about, rain drips, drips, I write letters [...], throw them away.

Had a wonderful look at a bobcat today; it was simply sitting, out in the yard, sitting in the snow in full view, looking this way that way; sat there about three minutes, then walked away to the east, into heavy ceanothus.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Nineteen years later, on this date in 2007, Russell was exploring the online Google Books library for literary references to this region. He found the work of one Hugh Wiley, who published in 1921 a book of short stories concerning, in part, the Chinese of San Francisco. One of the stories, "Joss", includes scenes that take place in this area—Canyon Creek, Moody Ridge, Gold Run Little York and Dutch Flat are mentioned.
(A Joss House is a Chinese temple or alter.) The story gives us an answer to the question, “Where did all the gold from Gold Run end up?”

The story "Joss" begins:
At midnight Ming Sun Tai looked out upon Market Street from a window of a room in the Palace Hotel. In the room with him was a hypocrite Hindu and eight American Christians. Ming Sun Tai was the tenth member of the Finance Committee of the Associated Foreign Missions.

The lights along the street were soft in the fog which lay over San Francisco. "This will be a good night for sleeping," thought Ming Sun Tai. He yawned and realized his seventy years. He opened his check book on his knee and wrote a check for three thousand dollars. He addressed the chairman of the meeting:

"Miss King," he said, "the bank of California will honour this check. It is for the balance required for our next year's work in China. If I may be excused now, I will accept the gift of sleep with which the Gods of Night pay for the work of the day." He bowed to the chairman and again to the assemblage and left the room.

A later excerpt:
Two miles South of Dutch Flat the exploring sun tilted over Moody Ridge and dived down the slope into Canyon Creek.

A ray of the sunlight lost its energy in the labyrinth of a chinful of cool grey whiskers which stuck out of one end of a blanket cocoon which lay in the sand beside the creek.

Presently the chrysalis moved gently. "Ow—oo —Wow!" Old Moccasin West indulged in a gratifying lungful of morning air. He rolled slowly out of his blankets and reached for a pair of broken shoes which lay beside him. He put on the shoes and raked together the embers of the fire which had smouldered through the night. He picked up a battered coffee pot. He walked to where the diminished waters of Canyon Creek threaded their way through the gravel and boulders of the creek bed. With the coffee pot he dipped up a pint of water.
Read the story or download the whole book, in various versions, free from Google Books, here:


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