July 28, 2006
Vacation Blog: Big trees
When my kids were young, I used to tell them bedtime stories in which we would pretend we had shrunk to a tiny size and we’d explore the house, seeing how different things felt when everything in the house was much bigger. This week, as we walked through groves of ancient redwoods, I felt like I was in one of my own stories. Or perhaps a movie set. The landscape seemed unreal: trees reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, and logs on the ground that were higher than my head. We walked through clumps of lush green ferns that were huge compared to the ones back at home.
Coast redwoods are the world’s tallest living trees. One tree can weigh more than 500 tons, with foot-thick bark that protects it from fire and insects, and some redwoods have reached more than 360 feet in height. When I looked up at the trees I walked underneath, I simply could not see the tops. More impressive than the height to me, though, was the age of the trees we saw. A coast redwood might live to be two thousand years old.
The woods were softly lit with sunlight that had been filtered through a canopy far above our heads. I could see how so many writers have compared the redwood forests to a cathedral, or any space designed to make humans feel humble and reverent. I tried to imagine what it would be like to grow in the same spot, season after season, for more than a thousand years.
Walking through the redwood forest made me feel all reflective and spiritual, but With-a-Why saw place as a huge playground. He was off and running down the soft trails, climbing up onto huge logs to race along the top, ducking behind big trees, and hiding inside hollow trees. For someone his size, the forest offered many places to hide and jump out at family members as they walked by. The ancient trees seemed to stir up all his pent-up energy, inviting him to run and play until his hair was sweaty and his face flushed. When I asked him the last night what his favorite part of the trip so far was, he said, "The redwoods."
Posted by jo(e)