California has many natural treasures, from our beaches to our redwoods to our supernaturally gorgeous national parks.
But the general rule of thumb is to keep your thumbs, and your other fingers, out of what's there. Visitors are asked, via signs and guidebooks and general wisdom, to let things be, from the smallest shells to the prettiest rocks to all of the plants and wildlife. "Take only memories" is the rallying cry for wilderness jaunts everywhere.
One young Yosemite National Park visitor, however, had a different experience, albeit an accidental one. A girl named Evie departed the famous destination with two sticks. Not large sticks, mind you, but sticks so small they could be easily taped to a ruled piece of paper.
We might even call them twigs.
The park office received such a piece of paper from Evie, with sticks attached, and this note, which was published on Yosemite's Facebook page on Feb. 27: "Dear Park Rangers I am a Junior Park Ranger. I went to Yosemite recently and accidentally brought home two sticks. I know I'm not supposed to take things from the park, so I am sending them back. Please put them in nature. Thank you, Evie."
Please put them in nature. If five words could ever melt a thousand Facebook users' hearts, simultaneously. If ever.
Perhaps Evie's honest and conscientious act will inspire those who do leave with national park plants and rocks and not so accidentally, either. We too often assume that monuments like Half Dome lend a park its main character, when it is truly the millions of smaller pieces in the wild puzzle that make up the whole picture.
Of course, Yosemite is not the first California park to receive returned items in the mail. Bodie State Historic Park on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada regularly opens up envelopes to find small bits of the ghost town. The senders? Former Bodie visitors who thought they'd just take a little nail or a brick. Only problem is there's a famous curse attached to the town and it says this: If you leave Bodie with something you found there, trouble awaits. Rangers say several objects have been mailed back, in haste, over the years.
Please put them in nature, indeed. Wise words, young Evie. Wise words.