Founders' Grove - a gift from the Redwoods
Two million acres of dinosaur trees. Two million acres of trees weighing a million pounds. An army the height of the Statue of Liberty holding their ground for hundreds of years. Sturdy sentinels keeping their vigil during countless storms. Breathing in the poison and turning it to life.
Until we showed up.
The bite of our blades. The efficiency of our oils. The fluency of our lines. We demonstrated our industrial power and brought this pride of timber to its knees. The wood came down and out. Filling walls and roofs with its ancient strength and color.
"Eighty thousand acres remain."
I review the placard so puny in this grove. Its graphs and colorless photos support its statistical story of two million minus eighty thousand. My jaw tightens, my mind complains. How? How dared we disturb the reverence? The arboreal wisdom distilling like magic from the air? The chlorophyllic symphonies of grandeur and subtlety? The playground of light dripping its laughter to the forest floor? How dared we destroy this?
My blame finds some compassion.
There were mouths to feed, libraries to build, and cold winters to endure. But somebody ventured we could have it all. The prosperity and the preservation of this peace. So here the Founders created their league and drew their line. Their line that would expand, fighting the fight these venerable soldiers could not. The Founders, possessed as if it were with our hindsight, saw that preserving these wonders would help preserve us.
Almost one hundred years later.
These Founders' eyes long closed, their bones returning to the earth, I stand here learning of their legacy. I step back and gaze into the canyons of timber, my curious eyes seeing the same trees they saw. My heart pumps for this moment. Gratitude fills my mind for this place, a place now that I have, I wouldn’t want to live life without. I feel the same feelings they must have felt. This is what they wanted isn’t it? They wanted me to stand here breathing in the life you can only live here, among these generous giants. They did it for me, a boy from the desert who would one day wander into these woods.
I retrace the miles.
The miles that got me to that grove. My trail is not without remorse. I think of my blade and oils, the scars and burns, the neglect and ignorance. My destruction my life can’t undo. But then I remember the music and the magic I’m able to dance to. The laughter that coats my ears. The victories I hold my hands high for. The peace and prosperity I’m propelled by. And as I look beyond that grove, to the miles I’ve yet to travel, I see the two million acres I’ve been given. I see I walk everyday among generous giants grown in a soil of sacrifice and hope. And I hear a question coming as if from the tree tops, sent maybe by the Founders themselves, that asks, “what of your two million acres will you preserve?”