Sunday Best – December 25, 2016


Redwoods, part 2: Shaking the Senses

Dear friend, branding genius, and fellow biomimic Victoria Keziah has given us the best gift of all, this description of the glory of redwoods, and an invitation to witness the miracles all around us.  She writes:

A walk into a redwood grove shakes the senses. One first notices the silence, a perceived lifelessness. The massive trees stand at attention, sword-straight and deathly still, like columns from a lost temple. Far overhead, the woven branches of the canopy have all but blocked out the sun, but for a few of its runaway rays. Gold flecks swim in the perpetual dusk.
Despite its characteristic quiet, this place is very much alive. In scientific terms, redwoods are labeled in Latin as “always alive:” Sequoia Sempervirens. Theirs is a hard-won designation. They are wise elders, stoic lineage holders, and strong survivors. This tree can trace a line of ancestry back to the time of the dinosaurs. Over millennia they have learned to survive wildfire, pestilence and drought. Even the more recent human practice of “liquidation logging” has not killed their primeval spirit.
When a redwood is felled and hauled off for lumber, the roots live on underground. One day, green sprouts emerge and encircle the dead stump. This is called a “Fairy Ring.” As the saplings steadily reach up toward the sky, the fairy ring grows into its new, adult classification. A mature fairy ring is called a “Cathedral.”
Like most phenomena in nature, this miracle has an explanation: redwoods are woven together, intimately and inextricably, both below and above ground. Their roots are enmeshed in a mycelial web that transports resources between trees, especially those too young and small to turn photons into food. Fairy rings rise because the forest feeds its young.
The canopy may resemble a thatched roof from below, but its sky-side is a bed of life, an arboreal forever-home for warblers, flying squirrels, and hanging gardens of edible fruit. As the Cathedral grows up, its branches stitch together until their origins are undecipherable. Ferns emerge from the crevices, rise up and die back, again and again. Their detritus decomposes to soil, providing habitat for sure-footed creatures like salamanders, which remarkably can live their entire lives three hundred feet off the ground, never wanting for food or friend. The canopy is a warm cup swirling with life, blissfully unaware of the world beyond its rim.
Here in a redwood grove, despite the early silence, life invites us to witness miracles of the everyday variety. A sinuous, sensory mat spread beneath our feet. The caress of green shoots at our ankles. A marvelous roof woven overhead. Food hidden in high corners, away from the dark days. Up in the highest place, newly born nestlings, carefully gathered in a downy bed. Their heads are flung back, their mouths thrust open, their trust instinctive. And today, all mouths shall be fed.

Dear Honeybees, we wish you these gifts from the redwoods: roots that are intertwined with others, a warm cup of community, and ever-alive spirit. Sempervirens.

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