Redwoods Bombed

When Point Reyes National Seashore was yet to be groomed and commercialized, the Vienam war was still being waged.


I was introduced to the Point Reyes neighborhood before it became a national landmark, when it was more natural, calm and elegant.

I have always been partial to the cool, subdued light of the natural cathedrals of the deep, quiet redwood groves hidden in the canyons and mountain sides of the central California coast range.

Point Reyes is an especially splendid showcase for the redwood groves for its being surrounded by the wide and endless Pacific Ocean on the one side, the finger strand of Tomales Bay on the other and Drake's Bay on the southern arc.

The one special aspect of this location is that it has never been logged. I have seen pictures of the hillsides in the San Lorenzo Valley above Santa Cruz, where they had been clear cut from the mountain's summit all the way down to the beach, waiting to be slash burned and replanted with second or even third growth redwood (Cowell Park and Big Basin are the exceptions here).

While there are cathedral groves there, they are tiny chapels compared to the huge, silent arches of the old growth groves found on the cape of Point Reyes. The redwood columns rise bare and limbless up past a height above the tops of most other trees. When the deeply green branches inter-mesh so high above the fern covered floor, they are obscured by misty shafts of thinly colored light, so much subdued from their source, the bright, white sun.

For the density of the green, for its shade and its high content of water vapor, the cathedral interiors are cool, the air is thick and heavy and rich to breath. There is no dust. There is no pollen. Some mysterious poison in the redwood world kills off other, inferior, dryer plant materials. The air is cool and comfortable. Lawns do not grow within the drip ring of a healthy redwood. The mysterious poison keeps the grasses from growing.

The huge redwood groves found in Point Reyes are, for me, calming, awesome and mystical. And, back in the old days, there was one other far-out element, there was a stable nearby. It made it possible to visit the redwood cathedrals, the awesome beaches, and the neck craning cliffs in a short time on horse back, compared to visiting the same on foot.

While I'm no ultra-confident equestrian, I could negotiate a heady horse well enough to visit the beaches and cathedrals of the Point at least a couple of times a year. It was a very fine and favorite past time for me, though seldom done. Besides, it was pretty expensive. People were willing to pay a good deal to ride horse-back at Point Reyes.

There was one time in the early 1970s when a special lady friend of mine visited me in Berkeley. She was the sister of one of my best musician friends. I had known her since she was a straggly teenager but as she had grown into a sophisticated but intellectual, professional model. I couldn't help but be very much attracted to her. But, I held this attraction at bay. She was one of my best friend's little sister. Damn, she was beautiful, and worse, she was very smart and so well read. We had great conversations.

She had kept her cool and worked her way up in her trade to work in New York and Los Angeles. Her parents lived in Daly City and whenever she came into the area, she made a point of letting me know so we could have a few long dinners together to “catch up.” I was working under a contract with the federal government on a computer project and it was necessary for me to leave the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz home base and live as a commuter up near San Francisco ...

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Sheila Sanchez January 31, 2013 at 01:39 AM
The places you describe in this post, Ed, seem magical. Thanks for educating me about them. I must visit now. I love redwood trees. They seem magical to me. There's many of them at Kelley Park on Senter Road in San Jose. I used to take my girls to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo and then we would walk around Kelley Park and just admire the beauty of these trees. We also love the Japanese Friendship Garden right next to Kelley Park. Thanks for the post. It's wonderful!
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz January 31, 2013 at 04:42 AM
Any where with Redwood Trees is Beautiful!
Michelle McIntyre February 02, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Your descriptions remind me of an episode of PBS' California Gold. The host passed away recently which is sad but they still re-run episodes.
Ed Bellezza February 02, 2013 at 10:46 PM
I remember that series. It was another one of those great PBS efforts. Really good!!


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