A Park to the People
Editor's note: Although Rosanne is the name of the woman you'll meet in this story, you'll no doubt guess who she really is.
Shadows played along the canyon's rim, meeting the dancing rays of sunlight through the trees. Sunlight and darkness mingled together in a great canyon of the earth. One lone woman stood upon its rim gazing into its mystic depth. Her mind was empty of thought. She was only watching, fascinated by the swaying trees, the shadows and the sunlight, and the deep and mysterious.
A thought came into her mind. The shadows there were as the tears that gather within the heart of man! Dark tears of sadness and sorrow flickering for a time on the green leaves growing on the trees on life.
The road was long where the shadows drifted. The rays of sunlight were few, but life, too, was like that, and when the road reached the canyon's rim where the sky was a limitless space, man paused for a time to rest. He would turn and look back into the canyons of the earth. He could see the shadows there behind him, but his mind was free. He had gained the rim where there was only sunlight and space. He smiled, realizing that the tears and laughter in life led up and on to the limitless space of a blue and sunlit sky.
A strange smile spread over the woman's face. She sighed softly, then turned and walked swiftly back along the road and into the dark forest beyond, where in the quiet mid-morning, two hawks circled silently above in the blue sky. A soft murmur rippled among the pine trees as though the ghost of a thousand feet stepped softly along with hers. There was no other sound. Rosanne was anxious to reach the crest of the mountain. There she could view the vast mountainous region which stretched on and on around her in a wilderness of unreality. It was wild and steep and the far distant ranges were blanketed with tall swaying pines.
It was the last remaining bit of wilderness in the now overcrowded cities and farms that stretched far below her in the distant valley. Her family had migrated here over a hundred and fifty years ago. They had come with oxen and wagons when it was all a wilderness into a state now with millions of people crowding its highways and byways, restless and eager for life, adventure, and for the creative science of new things. She stood alone on the mountain crest watching the great panorama in the valley below, while the vast and silent mountains whispered softly behind her.
She realized that with her was the end of an episode. In future years, this lovely wilderness would be no more. She sat down at the foot of a pine tree and watched cattle graze along the openings of the timber. Cattle? Soon there would be no place for cattle except in small scientifically operated farms which now composed the West. The days of vast ranges were buried along with those ghostly feet that had walked with hers to the mountain crest. She sat very still absorbing the silence around her. It was like a great cathedral. Slowly the peace of the hills crept into her heart, and cleared her mind of the fears and doubts which had surged within her. She saw a vision of a future world. This wilderness would serve forever as a living monument of the dead. Their footsteps echoed with hers over the dim pine covered trails. Distant rock-covered caverns still echoed voices from the long ago, and phantom hoof beats thundered through the timber shadowing the sunlight beneath the trees.
The modern world would have no ears for such echoes of the past. They would have no conception of the living dead around them. It was only hers that could hear them. Only her eyes that could see, because once she had been as one of them, and to her eyes they were still living, sheltered within the heart of the great pines.
The world of today would never know nor would it ever guess, and in its thoughtless, relentless march toward progress, it would never take the time to learn of those whose hearts were buried here. Her decision grew firm! From out of the silence came her answer! This vast wilderness should be a living memorial to those great and sturdy pioneers. She would make it a gift to the people to live forever as park in memory of her people. It would be free for those eager pressing throngs to come and enjoy its vast primeval wilderness, and where those ghostly shadows could drift in peace forever. From out of the quiet hills would come the peace of one's soul and food for the power of thought.
The sun was sinking slowly and the afternoon shadows began to steal across the ridges. Rosanne smiled while her eyes glistened with sudden moisture in the fading sunlight. It was nearly dusk by the time she reached the snug little house nestled under a grove of pines. Hungry horses nickered softly as she approached the corral and eager cattle trotted toward her, anxious for a bit of hay. Quickly she tended to their needs, then entered the house and lit the old fashioned lamps. Tonight she would have her dinner out under the stars in the little garden she had made a number of years ago.
It would be her last dinner. She would leave on the morrow. That was one reason why her decision had been such a stupendous one. It meant giving up her happy home for the progress of public activity. Her dwelling place was the only natural location for the entrance to her domain, and her home would be needed for lodge purposes. Rosanne decided to travel where she could forget her beloved country and the sadness of leaving it. She would be a gypsy for a year or so, or until she could return again as one of the people to enjoy the splendor of The Park once more.
Slowly, the round full moon peeked across the ridge, harboring a tall lonesome pine in its very heart. The stars grew dim under its bright light and the night wind softly rustled down the long canyon into the darkness of the night. The heart of Rosanne was heavy, but there was peace in the knowledge of a great and lasting gift to the world, and a monument worthy of a passing episode in the history of its country.