I’d be happy to grow tall in a steep canyon, where fog lingers in the morning to feed my needles, and a stream burbles in the rainy season to nourish my roots.
I’d be lucky to grow close to the ocean, whose summer fogs and winter warmth would help me grow taller and stronger.
I’d nurture a circle of friends to help me recover from fires.
I’d remember that most of us can survive a fire or two, if our roots are deep enough and our friends close around to support us.
I’d remember that life and death intertwine all around me.
I’d remember that when my seed germinated, the coast Miwok and Pomo still gathered fish, berries and nuts in my canyon, and no one had seen these tree-cutting Europeans yet.
I’d remember that fires, nations, governments and even diseases all have their time, while the seeds dropped by my ancestors created a forest that somehow has managed to remain.
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.