When I moved to Mt. Shasta many years ago, a dear and gentle man lived up the street from me. Though I seldom saw him - he was quite elderly then - I always felt a deep sense of awe and respect for a life so beautifully lived as his. Little did I realize at the time how very important his botanical drawings of Shasta wildflowers were to become to my future work.

     Born in Budapest, Hungary of German parents, Edward Stuhl was raised in Austria where his father had a successful stained glass studio. Edward's love and appreciation of the beauty of nature were apparent at an early age when he would return from a days outing with his parents with handfuls of wildflowers gently gathered in the Austrian highlands. Although as a young man Edward studied architecture and portrait painting and became an accomplished stained glass artist, he preferred to find beauty in its most natural setting.

     In 1910 he and his wife Rosie journeyed to America in search of adventure in the beauty of the great American outdoors. Upon seeing Mt. Shasta for the first time Edward wrote in his journal:

"...There it rose above the canyon, framed by dark forests on either side and bathed in sunlight. Was it a mirage, or a fantastic upbuilding of rose-tinted silver-edged blue clouds? I doubted its reality, but it was truly Mt. Shasta....Such height and dimensions, majesty and beauty, make faint any attempt to describe it. Awed and spellbound, I settled on a rock by the wayside and let the knapsack slide from my shoulders to the ground. I rested and looked and wondered."

     Then and there, Edward determined that someday he would live at the very foot of this mountain. Several years later his wish came true. Charles Wheeler, a friend and attorney in San Francisco, invited Edward and Rosie to come and live on his family ranch in Mc Cloud. Ed spent many years as naturalist and guide for the Wheeler Ranch and then for William Randolph Hearst, who purchased the ranch in 1929 and named it Wyntoon.

     Edward was constantly drawn to the peaks, canyons, glaciers and alpine meadows of Mt. Shasta. He carried the Mountain in the very fiber of his soul and was seldom without his paints, his camera and his walking staff. With a sensitivity to nature akin to that of John Muir, Ed became recognized as an authority of the flora, geology, history and lore of Mt. Shasta. In over fifty years exploring The Mountain, Ed discovered that Shasta was mother to over six hundred species of flowering plants and ferns, one hundred twenty-five species of lichens and seven hundred species of fungi.

     During his lifetime, Ed climbed to the peak of Shasta twenty-two times, hiked the glaciers and canyons and botanized the alpine meadows. Everything about Mt. Shasta fascinated him. He hiked and skied practically every inch of her, including the five glaciers. I think it would be safe to say that Ed spent more years on Shasta herself than any man ever has. His love for her never diminished, nor did his avid work to preserve her. He became involved in many formal and informal attempts to save Mt. Shasta and never ceased to proclaim her beauties or the necessity for her preservation. His lifelong dream was to see MT. Shasta preserved as a state or national park. At one point, Ed attempted to persuade William Hearst to purchased the Southern Pacific land on Shasta at two dollars an acre for a donation to the State of California as a park.

     In his lifetime, Edward Stuhl painted more than two-hundred full color pictures of the magnificent flowers of Mt. Shasta. These beautiful, delicate wildflower paintings have been exhibited at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, as well as many collages and universities of California. With the help of Marilyn Clement Ford these wonderful drawings have been published in a beautifully bound volume.

     In my work preparing flower essences, I prefer Ed's book as an identification reference, although at times I wish it was in a smaller format. It is a large and beautiful volume, but a bit cumbersome for field use. It is worth the extra trouble, though, because Ed's love for Shasta and her flowers emanates from every page. I feel his loving presence each time I open the book.

     I somehow knew those many years ago that I had a future reason to be grateful to Edward Stuhl, but there were no words and the feelings went unexpressed.... So I thank you now, Edward, for your lifetime of love for Shasta and for your meticulous and loving renderings of her wildflowers.

*For those wishing to know more about Edward Stuhl and the wildflowers of Shasta, his book is available at Wings Bookstore, The Golden Bough and Village books in Mt. Shasta. 

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