Excerpt: Biodesign Out For A Walk:
“NO WONDERLAND WOULD be complete without pygmies and giants, and Mendocino did not disappoint. It may be the only place on our planet that features pygmies and giants in both plant and animal kingdoms. There is still at least one remaining sequoia sempervirens that towers over 350 feet tall, has a diameter of over 24 feet, and is over 2,000 years old. The record number of board feet harvested from a single redwood tree was nearly 500,000, or enough to build over 20 modest homes. Although the present [second-growth] trees bordering the pygmy are only 150 feet tall, they stand in sharp contrast to the nearby pygmy cypresses that can be adult at six inches tall, less than an inch in diameter, and are rarely more than 150 years old. “
Although this Mario Vaden photo was taken in Humboldt County, there is one remaining Giant Sequoia Sempervirens left in Mendocino County. It was a seedling before Christ was born and has survived over 2,000 years of Earth’s history.
This photo shows the difficulty this girl is having trying to wrap her arms, mind and spirit around this powerful, majestic tree. Interestingly, her arm-span looks to be about 5 feet, which would make the diameter of this tree over 20 feet.One of the greatest American socio-educational failures is that, in a nation with such a rich abundance of natural wonders, very few inner-city kids will ever experience the rapture and wonder of wrapping their arms around trees like this. Little wonder they often turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their senses to the ravages of poverty and deprivation. There has been a cataclysmic breakdown of the traditional nuclear family and parents and children are dying from broken spirits, thus broken hearts.
After writing this, I was reminded of a paragraph of John Muir’s writing.
“After I had lived many years in the mountains, I spent my first winter in San Francisco, writing up my notes. I used to run out on short excursions to Mt. Tamalpais, or hills across the bay, for rest and exercise, and I always brought back as many flowers as I could carry. It was most touching to see the quick and natural enthusiasm in the hearts of the ragged, neglected, defrauded, dirty little wretches of the Tar Flat water-front of the city I used to pass through on my way home. As soon as they caught sight of my wild bouquet, they quit their pitiful attempts at amusement in the miserable city streets and ran after me begging for a flower.“Please, Mister give me a flower—give me a flower, Mister,” in a humble begging tone as if expecting to be refused. And when I stopped and distributed the treasures, giving each a lily or daisy or calachortus, anemone, gilia, flowering Dogwood, a spray of Ceanothus, Manzanita or a branch of Redwood, their dirty faces glowed with enthusiasm while they gazed at them and fondled them reverently as if looking into the faces of angels of heaven It was a hopeful sign, and made me say: ‘No matter into what depths of degradation humanity may sink, I will never despair while the lowest love the pure and beautiful and know it when they see it.’”
Muir was considered a “fool” for predicting that all of the Giant Redwoods could be cut down. Even though he founded the Sierra Club, and other conservation groups, like Save The Redwoods, followed his lead, 95% of the virgin Redwood Forest was logged. Currently, approximately 5% remains, 3% is protected in National and State Parks and 2% is privately owned.
Lowell H. Young
Author: Biodesign Out For A Walk