I awake to the sound of a light rain. I feel rested–recovered from my trek across the US. And now my mind moves on to the reason I made that journey. There are so many things here in California that I want to experience.
Is there a reason I can’t start now?
- Grocery shopping-done
- Car unpacked-done
- Pre assignment checklist – done
I grab Rocky, my camera and a bag of snacks and I’m off to do something I’ve always wanted to do….stand beneath the branches of a giant Sequoia.
As I following the winding road to elevations of over 6000 feet, I stop to admire the beauty of this mountain terrain. And I’m glad that I left my winter coat in the trunk, because as the elevation increases, the temperature drops.
I watch for the ancient trees, expecting to see their branches reaching for the clouds around each corner. But all I see are low growing trees, green grasses and several dead evergreens, their green pine needles turned to rust.
The trees grow denser and I reach the gate to Kings Canyon National Park. (Here’s where I’m once again thankful for the investment in a National Park Pass)
Large patches of snow cover the ground beneath the trees. Warnings of ice on the road slow my pace. I glimpse red trunks ahead. And then I see it. I arrive at the Grant Village Visitor Center and I’m feeling a little disappointed. Yes, I’ve seen some large trees, but nothing none larger than the trees I’d seen at Congaree National Park in South Carolina.
After a visit with the park ranger, I’m encouraged that the great trees do indeed exist and I continue along the winding road. And there it is! My first giant Sequoia. It’s not the largest – The Grant Tree- but it is here, unfenced, just off the road waiting for me. This tree has stood for ages. It has seen not only the history of this country, but the hundreds of years before. Could a wooly mammoth have passed beneath its branches? I cant’ really find the words to describe how it felt to stand in the presence of this majestic tree.
Beneath the surface a seed awakens.
Roots wind their way deep into the rich soil.
A tender sprout bursts through the surface.
Thin shoots of green unfold from atop a reddish stem stretching toward the warming rays of sunshine.
A soft nose brushes against the tips of the leaves. Teeth tear nearby grass from the earth. A shadow moves across the ground and slender legs glide past, and then the warmth of the sun once again falls on the struggling sprout.
The sun rises.
The sun sets.
Days fade into weeks.
The red stem thickens.
Thin green leaves branch outward.
The sun grows hot and cracks form in the dry earth.
The green leaves droop.
A single drop of rain falls. And then another. And another….
The earth’s thirst is quenched and the roots draw in the needed moisture.
Months fade into years.
The tender sapling has grown into a tree.
Birds nest in its branches.
Men seek shelter beneath its great canopy.
Decades fade to centuries.
Branches disappear into the clouds and what was once a tiny stem is now a majestic trunk that stretches twenty five feet across.
More men arrive. They carry saws and axes. Neighboring trees crash to the ground.
A century passes.
Fire burns through the forest, leaving a deep scar on the great tree. But it does not fall. It does not die.
The ancient tree stands proud
A woman stands within the scar. Her hands press against the trunk. She closes her eyes and allows the majesty of this ageless tree to surround her.
She opens her eyes and gazes up into the branches breathing deeply of the mountain air.
She watches as a cone tumbles to the ground.
Unseen a seed slips from its shelter within the cone and nestles into the rich soil.
Beneath the earth, the seed sleeps.