If there is one thing you must do before you die, it is to see the grandeur of the Redwoods, in person. Pictures do them no justice. It is near impossible to capture the perspective of being amongst the largest trees in the world. And a photo can’t convey the muffled silence of such an ancient grove. At times you quit talking because the quietude is so striking. And then after soaking it all in, you say a few words just to make sure you’re not dreaming. Because the mist made it seem so surreal, made it feel like some kind of fairy tale. And the ferns and clover, they gave you that feeling that some kind of Jurassic reptile could lunge out of the flora at any given second.
The trees themselves are like stately kings from an era long gone, an era before the dinosaurs and Jesus, before all the man-made complications. Every time you think you’ve come across the largest, it is quickly replaced by another much older, ever-climbing tree.
As my eyes traveled up the thick trunks to the leafy fronds waving high above the clouds, I tried to picture what changes these trees had seen over the millennia. That is assuming they had eyes, and eerily enough the gnarled bark gave off the impression that some did.
At one point during our hike we came across a fern covered canyon painted with a coat of golden sunlight. After the initial shock of viewing such a beautiful scene, my eyes traveled down a solitary beam of sunlight shining through the dense canopy overhead. At its end, like some pot of sunlit gold, stood a small ordinary tree revealed amongst the shadows of the neighboring behemoths. Our party stopped and quickly decided that this tree was sacred and must be reached at any cost. We climbed our way down the steep slope via a fallen redwood that functioned as a bridge to the canyon floor.
While standing beside this skinny tree, I felt a strange connection, and in retrospect it taught me a lesson.
It wasn’t the tallest, yet it shone with light. It wasn’t the thickest, yet it had grown to some height. It was simply itself, and someone had discovered its discrete beauty, a lesson that resonated deep within the heart of yours truly.