An 84-year-old poem and painting about a mountain impacted by the Castle Fire in 2020
By Sarah Elliott, 16 September 2020, 3RNews
This poem and painting were originally published in the October 14, 2014, issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth. The poem was written by Nell Lovering (1881-1951); the watercolor was painted by Norma Hardison (1906-2004). They are the grandmother and mother, respectively, of Gaynor McKee of Three Rivers.
Dennison Mountain (elevation 8,678 feet) and the entire Dennison ridgeline is in the southernmost part of Sequoia National Park and stands sentinel over the South Fork of the Kaweah River and the residents who make their home in this canyon. It is an imposing and important feature of the area, significantly impacted by the Castle Fire portion of the SQF Complex in 2020.
Views from the summit include the South Fork canyon, Blossom Peak, Homer’s Nose, the Kaweahs, Mineral King, and much of the Great Western Divide.
The Loverings and the Hardisons were beloved members of the South Fork community, first settling there in 1908. The poem and the painting were created in 1936.
ODE TO MOUNT DENNISON
Mount Dennison, Queen of the South Fork,
You’re the greatest mountain of all.
As you stand at the head of the canyon,
And look o’er its rocky wall.
The River Kaweah beneath you,
Is wooing at your feet,
And the evening breezes whisper,
Through the pine trees, cool and sweet.
Fir trees grow low on your ridges,
Tall cliffs shade a verdant ravine,
Where blue shadows hide in the hollows,
And wild flowers blossom unseen.
A grey mist creeps about you,
Seeking to cover your face,
Like a veil of smoke, it clings and curls,
Then lifts to reveal your grace.
With glorious strength, you face the blast,
Rain clouds lie low on your breast.
And your lovely shoulders gleam snow white,
Where the cloak of winter rests.
Oh, mountain, enchanting, alluring,
Your beauty will always shine.
In all of your moods you are charming,
In every color divine.
From the fleecy mantle of ermine,
Worn to grace winter days,
You change to the garb of summer,
To delicate greens and greys.
Like a vain and frivolous lady,
Forever changing her clothes,
You turn from the blue of the morning,
To amethyst, mauve and rose.
And when the hand of darkness
Draws the curtain down,
You dress yourself the loveliest,
In a purple evening gown.
—Nell Lovering, 1936