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Nature Does the House Work
By W. G. Fitz-Gerald
Ts N the Yellowstone Park one both wild and weird. One hour finds
may see a man haul a fish the traveler skirting some exquisite lake out of a lake and, without or long narrow fjord, girdled with lofty taking it from the line, snow-capped mountains. And the next drop it into a tiny boiling sees him wending his way through a
spring and cook it with bristling awe-inspiring lava flood of vast out moving from the spot where he extent, with enormous rugged masses stands. This, however, is something of a piled up in the wildest confusion. freak, and vastly different from those Tremendous rifts extending for miles strange volcanic regions where the native —the work of quite recent earthquakes, women perform their daily household are a common feature of the Icelandic
MONDAY MORNING AT THE HOT SPRINGS, NEAR REYKJAVIK, ICELAND.
work with the minimum of trouble aided landscape as also is the Laug, or hot by Dame Nature in her strangest moods. spring, where boiling water bubbles forth
First of all take Iceland,—that weird like cold in an ordinary spring in less Arctic Island of moor and fell that knows wonderful lands, and a cloud of mist no night in its short summer. Mounted ascends like the towering spray that upon a sure-footed and good tempered marks where a mighty river leaps into pony that a child might ride without mis- space. hap one passes daily through scenery At Reykjavik, Thingvellir, Geysir and
and the boiling current run side by side wabine, or Maori wife, lowering a pullin the same bed! It seems a thoughtful ding into a natural steam-hole at Ohineprovision of Nature in a country where mutu. fuel is so scarce thus to assist the women She has sunk a kind of box; and the fok.
viands to be cooked are placed on slats Every Ivionday morning the women of of wood at the bottom of this. Next she Reykjavik go down to the steaming puts the lid on and covers the whole with stream with bundles of clothes on their sacking; and in an incredibly short while heads, and they wash in common like the the whole dinner is most perfectly women of Switzerland or rural France. cooked, as though it had the benefit of How they contrive to protect their chil- the most modern cooking appliances. dren from the boiling pools is a mystery, Experts declare that native hams cooked yet my inquiries failed to elicit a single in this way develop a delicacy of flavor fatality.
and tenderness unknown elsewhere. But convenient as this is, it is as noth- At Whakarewarewa one finds Nature ing to the condition of things prevailing as an aid to the housewife in excelsis. in the North Island of New Zealand - The amount of hot mineral water is the famous “Wonderland," or Rotorua enormous; millions of gallons are bubregion. There are hot springs without bling and hissing and seething all round, number, and the queerest sight for the and even if you dig a little hole in the visitor will be the culinary and other ground with your walking stick it spouts domestic operations, not only of the Ma- steam and fills with boiling water in a nioment or two. The native women here and here lazy infants spend the brilliant go to no trouble whatever for hot baths; cold days of winter (our midsummer) for the week's washing; for houseclean- lolling luxuriously up to their coffeeing; for washing up dishes; making tea; colored shoulders; or seated subaquecooking all meals; and even lighting ously amid the rolling steam-clouds, with fires. Picturesque women they are, too, toes emerging and head back "thinkin' o in crimson and green and purple, puffing nawthin”! stolidly at the inevitable pipe, and with No more amazing domestic spectacle babies slung across their backs. . could be imagined than the scene in one
One of the guides, in order to demon- of these compounds of the better kind. strate the powers of Nature in this mar- In the big pool that has been dug long velous region, will poke a stick deep under ago, the father and his troop of children a manuka root and bring it forth red hot are disporting or smoking, whilst the and smoking. He blows upon it assidu- hard-working mother of the family is ously until it kindles into flame. When either washing out the clothes in another lunch time comes he will ask you whether hole which she has dug with her own you prefer your deer meat or leg of mut- primitive wooden spade, or else she is ton roasted or boiled ? The steam will peering into queer little cavernous redo the one, and a water-filled hole dug in ceptacles in the earth looking after the the ground anywhere will make the other dinner of mutton and sweet potatoes, a possibility at any time. Each quaint with many other queer Maori dishes and beautifully carved native house has utterly unknown to the white man. Naa natural hot bath dug in its compound; ture is kind to some lands.
Soda from Dry Lakes
By Harry H. Dunn
ALIFORNIA miners are saline deposit in the world, and as yet now as anxious to find only its borders have been entered by soda beds, as they were to prospectors ; development has hardly bestrike a good gold mine in gun. Concerning this sink, J. Sylvester the days of '49. Manu- Brown, one of the best known chemists
facturers are clamoring for of the West Coast, has this to say: soda for domestic and medicinal, as well “The resources of this mighty sea of as for commercial uses. Pure soda com- Nature's handiwork are so great as to mands a fine price, and the great Cali- place its possibilities almost beyond hufornia desert has been found to contain man conception. For hundreds and hunvast deposits of salines, notably soda, in dreds of acres a continuous sheen of rock at least one of the dry lakes. Here then salt, sulphate of soda, carbonate of soda, is the miners' opportunity, and they are crystalline gypsum and aluminate clay flocking to the soda lakes in great nun- spreads out upon the desert waste. Pabers.
tient research has revealed the presence Soda occurs in varying forms in this of all these salts in astounding quantities region, but the only beds which are of and there remains no doubt that this value from a mercantile point of view, or great desiccated lake bed represents the which furnish quantities enough of the most valuable mineral deposit recorded in salts to be worthy of operation, are in scientific history.” It represents an aldried-out lake beds.
most inexhaustible supply.
THE SURFACE OF SODA LAKES.
The largest and most important of all The Arizona and California Railroad, of these is the one known as Danby Lake, a branch of the Santa Fe line crossing some thirty miles southeast of the small the Colorado at Parker and rejoining the desert town of Danby, in San Bernardino main line at Bengal on the California county. This lake not only contains vast side, parallels the shore of this immense beds of pure soda but about eighteen mil- deposit for some three-quarters of a mile lion tons of salt as well. In point of fact and makes possible work which has hiththis lake is probably the most valuable erto been entirely out of the question. When this line is completed, practically which it contains is forced to the surface all of the sink will be brought within easy and the result is that the crust is pracreach of the best transportation facilities, tically pure. The deeper the mud bed and many commodities now produced in the deeper the crust above, and vice Germany and in South America can be versa, where the bottom of bedrock is obtained out here in the Southwest more very close to the surface—as is the case cheaply than the imported article can be around the edge of Danby Lake,—the shipped in.
crust is correspondingly thin and of Danby Lake itself lies in a sloping lower value. basin about midway between the south- The principal salts held in the deposit east end of onedesert butte known as Old in and around Danby Lake and at Soda Woman Mountain, and the west end of Lake, a few miles to the north of Danby Iron Mountain, gaunt peaks which have Lake, is known as "natural" soda. It is for centuries stood guard above this bar- composed of sodium carbonate and ren waste. Standing on the slope of sodium bi-carbonate, more or less thoreither of these hills, the appearance of oughly intermingled. With these are the lake—which the reader should re- found other salts which are technically member is absolutely dry—is that of a known as “impurities,” though they may vast bowl, filled with some shimmering be very valuable deposits in themselves, white substance, level as a floor, smooth without reference to the "natural" soda. as ice, the whole picture silent as the Some of these impurities are sodium grave. The basin has no outlet; all the chloride and sulphate (at Danby); drainage of the surrounding hills, heavy sodium biborate (in Death Valley); and with saline seepages from their rocky sodium nitrate (in the niter beds prehearts, must soak down, down to the viously described). The first of these
depths below, forming a bed of mud of combinations produces salt and soda beds, unknown depth.
the second borax beds, and the third The length of the lake bed is about saltpeter beds. twelve miles, its width from three to five The exact results of a quantitative anmiles, and the whole basin is covered alysis made last year give the following with a crust of crystallized salts of from figures, which may be taken as fairly a few inches to three or four feet in equable for all sections of the lake, judgthickness.
ing from other analyses which have been The character and appearance of the made at different points : crust above this pot of salt-laden mud is Sulphate of sodium. ..... best shown by the accompanying photo Clay ...... graphs. The underground leaching-out Sand ....... of the hills for miles around so adds to Water ..... this bed that the surcharge of salines Nitrates