We cut down three 70-year-old trees on our property last week, and it made me unreasonably sad.
The Chinese elm trees were mostly dead, and it was time for them to go, but I miss them and it made me think of a trip a couple of years ago to northern California when we drove through the Redwood forest.
You may have sung the lyrics to “This Land is Your Land” when you were a youngster, but a walk through the forest here will have them ringing in your head for days: “From the redwood forest to the Gulf Steam water, this land is made for you and me.”
California’s coastal redwoods, which grow on the northern coast (the scientific name is sequoia sempervirens), can grow up to 377 feet tall, the tallest living things on earth. Like the related sequoia trees, redwoods are long lived, due in part to their bark, which can be up to a foot thick. That bark protects a tree from cold and from forest fire.
Our trip two years ago through California included a drive and walk through the Redwood National and State Parks, an experience I can’t recommend highly enough. Being there, breathing in the piney air and feeling the silence as much as hearing it, one is reminded of dinosaurs and is tempted to believe in dryads and wood nymphs. The trees are alive, and they might be smiling or frowning or about to reach out and touch you. No wonder one of California’s stereotypes is of tree huggers. Even a logger’s gotta love a tree like that.
Standing among those majestic trees reminds me I am nothing, and my life, however long it is, passes in a blink. The “little” trees we removed from our property are gone, but not forgotten.
If nature is a place of worship, the redwood forests are cathedrals. Worth a trip.