Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Avenue of the Giants, Northern California

In a Redwood grove, among the oldest living things on the planet, we found — after only a few turn-arounds — the resting place of two very dear friends, their ashes scattered at the base of this twin tree:

The late afternoon sun barely broke through the dense growth, and all sound was absorbed in the thick underfooting of dry needles. My friend T. launched ahead with his dog, and I found myself slowing and lagging, as a deep hum began inside me, a vibration, and there was no option but to stop and attend to it as my friend disappeared up the path. But what was it? I was in the presence of sacred beings who possessed an unwritten language in basso profundo, and I was caught up in the resonance.

I sat down last night and tried to write about this, but all that I could manage were a few sentences which I quickly deleted. These trees defy language. The oldest documented Redwood was logged in 1933, and a count of rings at the stump-end of the severed trunk revealed 2,200 years. I gasp and shake my head at this number.

We met a 28-year-old Cajun man who was 2/3 of the way into a 40 day writing retreat in the Redwoods, camping on closed-off trails, his short-term "home" set up in the burned-out stumps of several trees: kitchen, sitting room, bedroom.

He took us on a short walk to see a rare albino Redwood, one of only 25 known specimens. He said that, between 2:15 and 2:45pm, sunlight illuminates the needles, and the tree appears to be electrically lit. He also said that at night in this forest, everything changes. Said he's never known such absolute darkness, and never known the kind of fear that night after night in this forest has engendered in him.

My head is still a bit wobbled from yesterday's events, even as I sit and type at a cliff-edge six miles south of Yachats, on the Oregon coast, the sun teetering on the horizon, a glass of Piersporter Michelsburg at hand. Battling the muse, who appears in fits and starts, mostly not present, despite these bucket-loads of seemingly perfect inspiration.

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