I am new to this Coastal Redwood forest. Six months ago I moved from Chicago to a camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains that borders Big Basin Redwood State Park. It is known for its old growth Coastal Redwood groves. The Coastal Redwoods are the tallest living thing on our planet, growing over 300ft tall. Some trees here are estimated to be over 2,000 years old. These redwoods know the story of the park rangers, the pioneers, and the Ohlone people. Their skin-scars share of the great fires. Their rings record times of plenty and times of drought. Their roots share of the floods and shifting soil, while the treetops send down secrets from the sea.
I am young, and feel even younger being here. How does a twenty-three year old have a conversation with a one thousand-year-old tree? What could I possibly share, having spent a mere 180 days dwelling in their age-old shadows? It may be strange, but they do not make me feel like a stranger. Maybe it’s because all humans are new here. Maybe it’s because their philosophy is not like mine. Their roots reach out hundreds of feet beneath the earth and anchor to neighboring redwood root systems. This is their secret; it’s what allows them to reach such towering heights.
It’s been important for me to learn that an isolated redwood cannot grow tall on its own. These trees live in opposition to the models of greatness prevalent in my culture. But look, look to the heavens! See, touch, and hear their wisdom; listen beneath their legacy! On a recent walk beneath these giants, a ranger shares that redwoods support more bio-matter than any other tree. I look up, slowly smile, and whisper, “Thank you, thank you. Thank you for welcoming and supporting new life, and for sharing it with me”