Into The (Red)Woods


It is notoriously impossible to photograph our California redwood trees. They’re so very tall, so very big around…and when you’re fortunate enough to find a true grove or forest of them, with dozens or hundreds in sight, all of your senses can be captured by the collective impact of so many wide, strong trunks reaching high up into the clear blue sky, so high that sunlight filters down in hazy shafts through their crowns. Your eyes scan up and up along the trunk to the source of that light…your ears find the rustling breeze through the undergrowth…your nose detects the moist earthy scent of the undergrowth…and you realize that no two-dimensional photo can do it justice. I suppose I could try videos, but that wouldn’t do it either; moreover, bandwidth for uploads isn’t sufficient for that.

But still – I do what I can. The bark, the shafts of light running across a burned trunk – the massive roots of a tree uprooted long ago. I took these shots on a visit to the Armstrong Grove just outside Guerneville with my friend Jill (up from Ventura), during my vacation in August. Yes, I’m still catching up with that last home trip before I go on another: things have been busy for me here in Haiti even before the 4th of October – and busier still, since.  

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8 responses

  1. Stephen Brockmann

    Oh man Paul, these are making me wish I were walking through a redwood forest right now! They’re reminding me of that amazing grove not far from where you live, and also of our hike through the forest to that one incredible redwood tree on the former Jack London estate (remember, the day that we were afraid of mountain lions?). Thanks for all the good work you’re doing in Haiti, and good luck with the clean water situation. That’s so simple and yet also so very important. And no, no two-dimensional photo can do justice to the redwoods, but these are still a whole lot better than nothing. The best thing, of course, is being there! Which I suppose you will be in just a few weeks, to help us hopefully have a decent, honorable, and not beyond-the-pale, not out-of-sight-bad leadership of the federal government starting next January.

    October 20, 2016 at 10:41

  2. Steve Dickman

    Beautiful photos! Thanks for posting!

    October 20, 2016 at 11:09

  3. Danniel Ward-Packard

    Gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing them.

    October 20, 2016 at 12:36

  4. Hope Etheridge

    And to think that the first thing the settlers wanted to do was to chop them down! Isn’t there a house somewhere in CA that is noted for being built out of a single redwood tree? Thanks for the posting, Paul!

    October 20, 2016 at 21:49

    • Hope, you might want to try the new book from a college friend of mine, Tracy Chevalier – I know she visited some of the redwood sights while she was writing the book. I haven’t red it yet, but it’s called “Edge of the Orchard,” and I think it may touch on some of what you’re writing about.

      October 23, 2016 at 08:55

  5. Sharmila

    Wow! Amazing pics, especially the first one. Is that the roots of an upturned tree? Remarkable.

    October 21, 2016 at 18:37

  6. oh wow. Truly awe-inspiring, thank you for reminding me of these beautiful forests! We are no longer on your island, so the hugs and peaceful thoughts take a little longer to reach you. 🙂 take care my friend

    October 23, 2016 at 11:34

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