One thing I haven’t mentioned yet about our time in California was our visit to the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, a forest that contains over 500 Giant Sequoia trees. Because we were visiting late in the season and it was a gray, wet day, we pretty much had the trails to ourselves as we wandered among the immense trees. To be able to stand in their presence in the stillness and silence of the forest, to be able to fully take in the wonder of their size and to ponder the timespan of their lives, was magnificent.
The tree shown above is the Grizzly Giant, one of the stars of this particular grove of Sequoias. He ( I’m using the male pronoun for this particular tree just because it seemed to fit in this instance) is one of the larger trees in the world, among the top 25, though he is not one of the tallest. He measures in at about 209′ in height while the biggest specimens sometime go over 300′. He does have a great trunk, however, one that measures about 29′ in diameter at the base. The largest limb on the left side of this photo has a diameter of over 7′, which itself would dwarf most trees in any forest.
His age is estimated to be between 1900 and 2700 years. Standing there, in the silence of the forest, the sheer age of the creature seemed to sink in. By the time the Roman Empire fell, he was already ancient. The Europeans arrival here in America with Columbus’ landing was just a short time ago to him. He has a Sequoia friend there, its massive trunk still sprawling across the forest floor, that fell over three hundred years ago when we were not yet dreaming of the possibility of a sovereign United States of America. Through all the turmoil of the human world and all the catastrophes of the natural world, he has stood steadfast. It’s an elegant stoicism that makes you wonder about the wisdom of our own interactions to the world around us, how we race to react to everything that occurs while the Grizzly Giant stands silently as an eternal witness. He just is.
On a rainy day near the end of November, we were lucky enough to have have him to ourselves for a short time , his stillness in being hopefully transferring to us some sort of wisdom.