i hadn't seen Redwoods since i was six or so, which is nearly three decades ago. When my car-mates found that out, they insisted that we take a brief detour through the Jebediah Smith grove. (To get to the Western side of the Siskiyou National Forest from the Illinois Valley, where i was staying, you need to drive South into California and then back North into Oregon.) i'm glad they did. |
i don't think i've ever been anywhere that more deserved the term "primeval". A Redwood forest has the appearance and atmosphere that a dinosaur could pop out of, and you'd only be half surprised. It's not just the big, grand trees, but the lush thickness of all the growth there. Such greens. Such shadows. Such lush shimmering light.
And air that fills the lungs the way that sparkling clear water relieves the throat on a hot dry day. Except that fresh water is still fairly easy to acquire and most of us almost never breathe air like this. i want to describe it as "thick", but that's not quite right. "Full" is better. "Vibrant" also gives a sense. Inhaling was not the act of recieving a passive substance; rather, it was to draw in the living, active exhalation of the place itself. This breathing was an act of participation that broke down the boundaries between the self and the surroundings. In some true sense, my lungs hadn't been so satisfied in nearly three decades. What starvation we face in the cities! Even in the rural areas, where farms have flowed out over the trees and marshes. Only in an ancient, untouched place like the Redwoods, can one truly experience this. Damn.
Deep in the wild places of the Siskiyous, far away from roads, i'm sure you can take a breath that is just as sustaining. But as the noose tightens around these isolated patches, they become smaller and less powerful. With their loss, we lose too, for we are denying ourselves the experience of real breathing and real living.