Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Other California: Already off on a Tangent

It occurred to me while looking over my postcard post on the "usual" places of California that a discussion of places in California that are overlooked could also include a discussion of overlooked state symbols, especially in the context of geological significance. A lot of people know that the state flower is the California Golden Poppy (Eschsholtzia californica), and that the state bird is the California Quail (Lophortyx californica). Calling upon my students as a cross-section of our state's population (which they aren't, really), somewhat fewer know that our state mammal is not just a bear, but the California Grizzly Bear (Ursus californicus) which is probably the only state mammal in the United States that was actually extinct when it was designated (the last one was shot in 1922; it became the state mammal in 1953). Along with the California Condor (now why isn't the condor our state bird?), it was one of the last of the megafauna survivors in our state (more coming on that subject).
It takes people a little longer to recall our state mineral: it's gold of course, given the beginnings of our state in the 1850's in a massive Gold Rush that brought hundreds of thousands of migrants to the region. But what about our state rock? Our state gemstone? Our state fish, or fossil, our state Gold Rush Ghost Town, or our Silver Rush Ghost Town? Or our state soil? And what about our state tree (trees, actually)? I suspect the trees are pretty well known.

And what about our state song? I pretty seriously thought it was "California, Here I Come", but it isn't! A sampling from "I Love You California", by F.B. Silverwood:

Where the snow crowned Golden Sierras
Keep their watch o'er the valleys bloom,
It is there I would be in our land by the sea,
Every breeze bearing rich perfume.
It is here nature gives of her rarest. It is Home Sweet Home to me,
And I know when I die I shall breathe my last sigh
For my sunny California.

I love you, Catalina, you are very dear to me.
I love you, Tamalpais, and I love Yosemite.
I love you, Land of Sunshine, Half your beauties are untold.
I loved you in my childhood, and I'll love you when I'm old.

Really, how many songwriters could squeeze Tamalpais into a lyric?

More on these less familiar state symbols in another post. If you want to cheat and look ahead, the complete listing can be found here.


Kim said...

I know the state rock! Serpentinite, right?

Is the state gemstone benitoite?

Gaelyn said...

Got to love a songwriter who can get Tamalpais into a song.
I'll wait for your answers teach.