07.25.21: Redwoods, CA

I have wanted for a very long time to see the redwoods, and a few days ago I finally did. They are utterly overwhelming. In fact, my first night in their presence, it felt wrong to take pictures or even try to tame feelings into words. So I didn’t. I lay down on a footbridge over Bull Creek and listened to a Pacific Wren scold, watched the mayflies set out on their lone dance while the spiders on the bridge cables cast their night nets.

The only break in the canopy was the narrow creek of sky mirroring the creek of water below; I imagined Marbled Murrelets setting out for the coast, not expecting to hear them—after all, it took many decades for people to even figure out that this is what they do: eat exclusively from the ocean; nest in old-growth up to nearly 50 miles inland. Think about that precarious first flight the offspring make to get to sea…the high limbs on which they’re raised.

When the bats came out, I walked back to the truck in the gloaming, a little spooked—in a good way. Jack Turner writes, “The easiest way to experience a bit of what the wild was like is to go into a great forest at night alone…something very old will return.” That’s what I felt.

The next morning, I was surprised—delighted, too!—to wake to the cries of Marbled Murrelets bringing the sounds of the sea to the big trees. The life history of this endangered species is fascinating, and so are the landscapes in which they dwell.

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