Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Redwoods and Riverbeds

Just returned last night from a camping trip (my first in about 3 years) in Mendocino County's coast redwood forest, which is peaceful and lovely, and just what this stressed-out City-dweller needed to regain a sense of balance. I'd never really spent much time in California's redwood forests, and they are stunning--perfectly straight, elegant and stately living things, some of the oldest and definitely the tallest living things on the planet! I think I've fallen in love with them, which means I'll be getting a little obsessed with reading and learning about them in the coming months. Yes, I am a brown-skinned-city-slicker-tree-hugger-girl and proud of it!

I had no idea that only 4% of the old coast redwood stands remain, thanks to profit-driven logging efforts by lumber companies. At least one company, the Mendocino Redwood Company, which was the target of a campaign a few years back to save the redwoods from unnecessary logging, has committed to harvesting redwood lumber in a sustainable way. I don't know enough to know whether this is really possible--I'm always rather skeptical about 'green businesses' that grow out of the corporate world rather than the environmental or social justice setors--but I'm curious and plan to find out more. If any of you out in Blogworld know anything about these and other redwood conservation efforts, please email me.

We were camped out next to the South Fork of the Eel River, which is still pretty low this time of year, but there was still enough water in the two nearby swimming holes to wade in and cool off. It was trippy to think that in a few months, these nearly dry riverbeds--now visible and walkable and filled with smooth river rocks--will be flowing freely and possibly even flooding the land nearby.

Our campsite was tucked away in a small clearing of young redwood and other trees, giving it a calm, spiritual feeling that I will long remember. The morning sunlight peeking through the trees was gorgeous, and the chipmunks, squirrels and birds who scrambled around nearby reminded me to tread lightly. Even the loud, sometimes offensively racist, drunken white college kids camped nearby who disrupted my sleep every night couldn't keep me from enjoying the sparkling canopy of stars high above.

Hope your Labor Day weekend was equally enjoyable.


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