I’m not exactly sure when this relationship began. But I think it might have been in 1970, on a family vacation to California. We flew out to San Francisco and drove down the coast to LA, stopping for a few days in Yosemite, where I took 1000 or so bad photos, which are now bad and unwatched slides. And somewhere around there we also saw Redwoods.
There were many of them, I think, but not a whole forest of them. And I'm not sure but I beieve we saw one that you could drive through. I don’t really remember how they looked, exactly, or what I thought. But I remember how they made me feel. I remember being surrounded by a sense of immense age, impressed with the realization that there were beings on this earth measured in frames outside the human.
That was nearly fifty years ago, a long time for me, a moment for them. For some reason over the last few years, I have felt a strong desire to see them again. I’m not sure why, or why now. Maybe I hope something so ancient will make me feel young again. Or maybe just a worry that they, along with so much else, may soon disappear, from erosion or drought or acid rain or who knows. Things disappear – I have learned that. But they also appear.
There is a path behind my house where I walk once or twice most weeks, for the last decade or so. The crooked tree is there, so is the straight one, and most of the others I have written about. I was walking a few days ago when I saw this one.
It’s a redwood. Not a California Redwood, but a Dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, an Asian cousin. It won’t grow as tall as Sequoia sempervirens or a large around as Sequoiadendron giganteum. But it is a redwood. A beautiful one. And it had been there, a hundred yards from my home, for years.
So keep an eye out for redwoods. My new motto is: No one expects Metasequoia glyptostroboides.