Sunday. First night in the cabin. I arrived after dark and stumbled into the house with three bags, exhausted and wanting nothing more than a hot shower and a bed. I dumped my bags on one of the twin beds and pretty much fell into the other. I woke up to a very cold, damp morning both in the cabin and outside. And because I arrived after dark and could only see the shadows of trees I could not appreciate them as I did the following morning.
The thing about the forest is that whether it is day or night you cannot escape the immensity and the weight of the trees above. The Redwoods run along the northern half of the California coast and consist of several forests that have, fortunately, been preserved from logging and development. These are the only forests I’ve experienced, but I imagine this feeling is the same in any forest.
I woke before dawn to prepare for day one of the new gig. The house is cold and damp as is the coast most of the time. I am really okay with this. After ten years in the desert the coast is a nice reprieve. I look forward to rehydrating or the reconstitution of my normal state both physically and mentally. While the desert does offer calm quiet and repose in vast and (deceptively) lonesome places and breath taking moments of unexpected discovery, it is not the coast. Nor is it the Redwoods.
These spectacular beings growing over 300 feet tall and more than 20 feet around dwarf my little cabin that sits about a mile into the forest. All windows and doors open to a dense forest of Redwoods, Spruce and Fir. Yes, there are other trees here too. The Spruce, Fir, tanoak and others actually work in sync with the Redwoods to protect them from the salty air. But, the Redwoods are the stars of the show with their infamous ruddy cores and eternal claim to tallest and best of the conifers. If you haven’t stood next to one of these you haven’t yet felt your insignificance. Or maybe you have – on the ocean, at the foot of the Sierras, at the Organ Pipe forest in the desert, even in the archives.
It’s disturbingly a similar experience to stand in this forest, to stand where the ocean meets the coast and to stand in the vaults of an archives. All dwarf a single human life while somehow impressing upon us our inescapable dependence on the histories they hold. All hold ancient stories that we can never fully comprehend as mere mortals. All live longer than us.