In June 2011, I had the privilege of spending five days in Redwood National & State Parks on the northern California coast. It was a mind-blowing experience. I came away with a new-found respect and admiration for the Coastal Redwood forest. It definitely altered my perception about the ability of these trees to harbor qualities such as intelligence, spirit and community that I previously believed only mankind could possess. For one thing, I learned that the coastal redwoods, tall and mighty as they are, are susceptible to being blown over by the high winds that come blowing in with sometimes gale force off the northern California coast. You see, despite their tremendous height (some reaching more than 360 feet tall) these redwoods have shallow roots. In an apparent attempt to counteract this weakness, coastal redwoods spread out their roots as much as 60 to 80 feet in search of other redwood trees. Once found, they intertwine their roots underground, like humans holding hands, in an effort to gain stability and strength to withstand the buffeting of high winds. To my mind, this sounds like a clear indication of intelligence at work. These trees seem to know that in community there is strength. Amazing. Also, I came away with a deep respect for the generosity these trees are capable of. Besides providing an obvious canopy for shade-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons and ferns, redwoods, even in their demise, will find a way to propagate the forest in which it lived. Fallen trees, called "nursing trees," will provide the nutrients for a community of smaller trees, ferns and plants to grow right out of its decomposing trunk. Their incredible height and longevity (some live to close to 2,000 years old and more) aside, the redwoods deserve our respect and protection. As caretakers of this planet, we would be grossly negligent if we failed to preserve these coastal redwood forests.
© Stuart L Gordon Photography