People will say they were cut down for their lumber, their sapwood and bark all but impervious to fire and pest so that we could build homes. Some felled trees because it was botanical equivalent of hunter taking down a rhino. Some sort of sick pride goes into taking the life out of a beauty you yourself will never have. Maybe it’s an unconscious fear of that majesty, that timelessness. The same thing that some humans, fear, I go to explicitly to experience.
When you stand beneath the canopy of a redwood tree, you sense how small, how short, how insignificant your life must be to this being who has withstood earthquake, fire, flood, famine, and human interference for sometimes thousands of years. Your act of walking by the tree, to this tree, is the same as a fruit fly flying by your cereal bowl one summer morning when you were three years old. For the tree or you now, neither event is particularly meaningful. And yet…
Look at all you’ve done in your life. All there is to do. Your life isn’t meaningless. It’s filled with joy and tragedy, love, and laughter and every little thing you do can affect the world around you—and the world within you.
And yet, you are just a fruit fly to this redwood.
The potential that every single soul has is astounding. Stand beneath a redwood tree, and look stories up into the canopy, and think of the stories in your life, and the stories in your own imagination yet told.
This is why I come to the redwoods. To see how high one can reach into the skies when you have the support of the grove around you. To listen to the stories in the wind. To feel soft, solid forest floor beneath my feet. And to breathe in earth and rain and leaves and tree. Here I am renewed.
Clearly Tucker seems to feel the same because he was pretty excited when I told where we were going.
From this upper tier where I ate breakfast at a small bistro table, Tucker looked out over the edge.
It was going to be a short hike in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve because although dogs were allowed they had to stick to the paved areas. The paved road runs pretty much side by side with the trail like an access road along the freeway. I was a little annoyed with not having boottread hit earth, but Tucker got a little ground on the edge of the road and we saw pretty much what everyone else could see.
My heart swells with joy when I see that Tucker is just as happy to be among the redwoods as I am.
I decided to go for it anyway. The best thing about starting the trail at the bottom is that if it gets too tough, you can always stop and it’s all downhill from there.
Tucker and I had the road/trail to ourselves for many miles. Dry grassland and green canopies blanketed the mountain tops.
Either way, after consulting my four-legged partner, we decided we didn’t need to walk another two miles round trip just to get to the campground. This pinnacle was good enough for us.
In less than half an hour, we arrived at our next, completely different, walkabout.
I was not disappointed.
And then there’s my boy, my adventure dog, my soulmate of another species who is happy to be anywhere new, but especially in places like these:
That evening as dinner cooked on the stove, Tucker crawled up on my lap. I occasionally lament that I missed out on Tucker's puppyhood, having met him during his second chance at life. But as he gazed up at me in this one moment, I saw that puppyhood echoed in his eyes as real as if I had been there.
And that was only the first day.