Christmas Sonoma CA 1864

Christmas 1864, Sonoma, Ca

W.S. Walker,

…It was then mid-winter, and Christmas morning found us frying the string our bacon had been suspended with. This we washed down with a tin cup full of pepper-wood tea, and then we sat down to reflect on the peculiarity of the situation. All at once Reed started up and said he believed there was a God in Isreal yet, for the day before he had seen the tracks of a mountain hare in the hills above us, and rising to his full length he then and there declared that ere another sun went down, he would have the meat of that hare, or he would have wool. I told him I thought it would be useless for him to attempt to get within reach of any kind of game, as the sigh of as oddly dressed and hungry looking man as he was, would put lightning speed in a snail. But Reed was determined, and went out and borrowed a gun and started forth, while I sat down in the cabin to drop a few lines to Sonoma county friends, ordering parched corn and straight jackets for two miners. I knew we wanted straight jackets, for we were in straightened circumstances. I had been engaged but a short time when a noise startled me. Stepping to the door, I was just in time to see a large hare going through the chapparal like the wind, with its hair reversed, and making terrible leaps at every turn in the trail, as it caught glimpses of its desperate pursuer. Reed having thrown away his gun, was following the animal at a break-neck pace. Seeing it was a race for life, and no funeral of mine, I went back and resumed writing. About half an hour elapsed, when the clatter of worn out boots, falling on the stony ground in rapid succession, fell upon my ears. I went back only to see a continuation of the old chase. This time the hare seemed to be making directly for our cabin, but one glimpse of my half-soled pantaloons and cadaverous looks turned him for the river. Such wild leaps as that animal made, I have never saw equaled; and Reed made some of the most inhuman jumps and plunges that a mortal ever was guilty of, as with scarcely anything on except an old pair of buck-skin suspenders (owing to frequent collisions with the chaparal), he dashed wildly in pursuit. The hare leaped up a rocky point overlooking the river, giving vent to a shriek, apparently of joy, at the prospect of drowning, rather than to fall into the clutches of my wild partner, who was coming down upon him "Like a wolf on the fold," and a moment later the terrified animal sprang into the roaring flood, and sank to rise no more forever--that is, of course, `hardly ever.' Reed rushed up to the cliff and made several unsuccessful attempts to leap into the river, but finally yelled for me to come and pull him back. It is scarcely necessary to add that game of all kinds speedily left the `foot-hills,' no doubt prefering colder latitudes, rather than take the risk of being disturbed by the wild hunter from Sonoma county.