Wednesday, October 9, 2013

the one about redwood trees

today matt and i took a walk through armstrong woods,
a beautiful california state park
                             that is full of amazing redwoods stretching up to the sky.
           (sidenote: did you know state parks are open even though national parks are not?)

i always think redwood trees are pretty mesmerizing, 
and it's so peaceful to walk quietly among these giants.

some of the felled trunks were over 1400 years old.
kind of humbling to walk through so many years of history and life, 
all while celebrating 11 teeny tiny years of marriage.

there were a bunch of trees that wore the marks of fire-
some had been hollowed out from fire, and yet were still growing and healthy, 
others bore charred trunks;
a few had actually been killed by fire,
the remaining trunk a short black stub in the midst of the surrounding trees.

the fire scars looked recent,
so we were surprised when a sign said the last fire that had touched the forest was in 1923.
90 years ago, and the damage looked as if it could have happened last year.
at the same time, i was amazed at the resiliency of the trees. the trees that had been hollowed out at the base while the tree kept on growing struck me the most.
this lower area is called a goose pen, because when european settlers came, the burned out base of the trunk was often large enough for them to corral and hold their livestock in.

why am i blogging about burned down redwood trees?
well, the remarkable thing is that despite the fire taking out the strongest part of the tree - the base of the trunk - the redwood then responds by healing and making itself even stronger around the damaged area. somehow it fortifies itself! (trees are smart like that.) 
over the long term, the fire makes the tree stronger.

and then, those trees visibly carry the scars forever, even if they are thriving and healthy.

we human beings usually want to fast track the healing process.
we want it to happen now,
and when we've decided we are whole again 
we don't typically want the scars to show.

this month - next week in fact -marks five years since my family was forever changed.
five years ago...
 it was the last time i've seen my dad, and the events of that season led to my parent's divorce, the sale of their home, and my estrangement from my dad.

it's been on my mind so much lately,
maybe because sometimes i still miss my dad or at least parts of having a dad,
maybe because the anniversary is soon,
maybe because it's still hard,
maybe because our family will never be the same.
my entire family bears wounds from all that happened,
and i don't know that those wounds will ever fully heal.

my hope is that in the way that these redwoods bear their scars and grow in new ways, 
that i will continue to feel strong, healthy, and more whole
while allowing my injuries to show.
and that our family will find ways to keep moving closer to each other,
to find healing individually and collectively.


  1. Thank you for this, for your openness, and willingness to share so much of your life so we can learn and love and be inspired. Xo friend.

  2. When is your novel coming out?
    Seriously, you have a wonderful way of finding depth and beauty in everything.
    And please write a novel someday so I can read it. I'd totally choose it for my book club.

  3. so true. i hope that for you. and for my own scars.

  4. does anyone know where i can find a dead redwood tree trunk to buy...minimum 6 feet wide and tall?


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