Thursday, May 1, 2008

Silent Sentinels

Hello Friends! Wow have you been patient with us! Since Easter we've been lost to cyberspace in the vast reality of 'California, here we come'! There are many experiences to tell about and loads of wonderful people to thank. We promise to do this in our very next blog chapter. But since it's been so long since we had a visit, we thought instead, we would leap frog you forward into the immediate present.

Here is Peter in front of the gates of "Muir Woods", at the top of a very scary RV ride up the coastal mountains above Mill Valley (north of the Golden Gate Bridge). The ride was well worth our introduction to the incredible phenomenon known as the 'Red Woods'. Named after John Muir, a reknowned naturalist & conservationist of the late 1800's, these woods have been protected from the logger's saws.

“The clearest way into the Universe, is through a forest wilderness.”
John Muir 1890

"God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods, but God cannot save them from fools – only Uncle Sam can do that.” John Muir 1897

It made us want to see more. So at the end of our 'California Time' we visited the most northern coast of California where a jigsaw puzzle of National Forests and State Parks seek to sustain the reality of this ancient forest.

Paul and Babe want you to know that things here are BIG!

See the mist and fog that regularly blankets this coast?
It's what makes a 'rain forest' in this northern temperate zone possible.

We chose to camp at Prairie Springs State Park. Good choice.
Below, our campsite.

Look what we saw from our RV door ...

The rushing creek became our lullaby for two nights.

Saturday, April 26th - toasting a day of hiking with a morning coffee.

The forest was waiting just beyond the campsite...

The trail opens up for the next 4 miles... Come on along with us.

Light and dark in dance together...

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. They are not like any trees we know; they are ambassadors from another time.” John Steinbeck

Remember the 'Ents" from Lord of the Rings?
Tolkien understood the deep soul of trees that have
stood like 'silent sentinels' through the eons of time.

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
No matter. When a redwood falls, the earth trembles.

Part of the experience of 'awe' comes from the profound silence.

There is a 'zen' of serenity and peace.
To be in this forest is to be in a state of prayer.

These are the tallest trees in the world, some after 2000 years,
having achieved 300+ feet .. the height of the Statue of Liberty ..

or a 40 story building.

They are giants whose parents were here before the dinosaurs.

So, look up. "Look way, way up!"

Below, Peter has taken 3 pictures, from the ground up.
Try to see to patch them together visually and see the whole tree.

And, this inveterate tree hugger wants you to know,
a Redwood requires a large group hug!

If you can see her in the distance, you can see both
the length and the breadth of this fallen giant.

There's lots of room inside.

Peter welcomes you to his home in the 'Shire'.

Look at the girth on this one! (The tree, I mean)
Even the 'clover I'm looking over' is huge.
Part of the silence rises from the absence of squirrels and chipmunks.
Occasionally one hears the sound of a lone bird.
One of the most prevelant habitats of the Redwood forest, is
the banana slug. Peter and I counted 25 on the trail
at our feet.
The big and the small of it.

Bear, mountain lion and the 'Roosevelt Elk" are the
big animals who call this place home.

Back on the trail.

"Now, I wonder, did you know ..."

Now you know, and you got it from a reliable source ...

Probably, you will be unable to read the sign below,
but you will see the very tiny size of the Redwood's pinecone,
no bigger than a grape.
"From small things, ..."

But the Redwood has regenerative alternatives.
A new tree can grow from roots, a burl, or a stump.
The Redwoods are the cause of 'enlightenment'.

We celebrate this advice from a tree:
Dear Friend
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of your true nature
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go like leasves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes...
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!
(Ilan Shamir)
We could go on for hours uploading Redwood picture.
We hope this small collection was enough
to let you in on the experience
and to call out to you to come here yourself some day.

But it's time to pack the camper and head out again.
Which brings us to Ashland, Oregon, where we have spent the week (April 28 - May 3)
with life long Eberhart family friend, Gwen MacMahon.
Here in this Shakespearian Festival town (akin to Stratford, Ontario), the Peace House at Southern Oregon University is staging another witness of “Silent Sentinels” – a shimmering carpet of tiny flags spread over the university lawns, each one representing six people killed in the Iraq War. No speeches; no candles; no picket signs – just the silent image of the human cost of war – and the internal impact taking place in the hearts of people who gaze upon it.
The numbers are 3,974 American dead (now past 4,050) and 655,000 Iraqis dead. The dead Americans are represented by red flags sprinkled among the white ones at a ratio of 1 to 150. It’s even more overwhelming to observe when you realize that one of these flags represents five more bodies not shown. *

Please check back with us. We are working on a two part blog to celebrate the events and the great people we have experienced while "California Dreaming". In the meantime, "Happy Mother's Day" to all the wonderful maternal women who may be reading this.

Shalom, dear friends.
Elizabeth and Peter

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