Saturday, June 2, 2012

Like Fine Wine

 Experiencing a redwood tree is like drinking fine wine, (not that I drink fine wine) but I'd imagine the approach is the same. I am still learning the art, and am far from mastery. When my friend Pete came to visit last fall, I took him to see Montgomery Woods. I was still in trail hiking mode, and found the most pleasure by walking, getting exercise, breathing fresh air, and taking in as much scenery as possible in as short amount of time as possible.
 "Dude, why are you prodding me like some kind of cattle?" Pete asked me when I was suggesting we jump on the trail and head to the farther side of the grove. Pete, you see, was slowly taking in individual trees, and appreciating their unique characteristics. I learned something that day. There is so much to take in when looking at an individual redwood tree. One can appreciate the soil, the redwood sorrel, the presence of mushrooms and ferns. The color of the bark, scars, burn marks, human markings. Obviously the size of the tree, the presence or absence of burls, caves, the possibility of albino sprouts. And this is all within the first 5 feet of the tree! I fear the day when I turn to a hiking companion and comment, "This tree has an earthy, robust flavor, with a slight burned yet invigorating aroma..."
 On a different note, I noticed this fallen redwood giant in Montgomery Woods for the first time yesterday afternoon. The entire afternoon felt like I was experiencing this grove for the first time because I was taking different routes and looking into the crowns and at the trees at different angles. I still can't help but feel like this blow down was fairly recent, perhaps a few months ago or within the last year. The debris field was already browning, but the uprooted soil still appeared fairly fresh. Looking at the redwood sorrel at the base of the tree made me wonder though. Did these clovers simply stay intact when the tree fell, or did they grow in the last year?
 There was not a lot of debris on the trunk either. The longer the tree lies on the ground, the more debris rains down from above from the standing trees, slowly creating soil mats. Weird that I've never noticed this tree before. Sad that the world has lost one more ancient life form.

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