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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Redwood Threnody


Fog: the lifeblood of Coastal Redwoods. Purissima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, California: photo by Bob Gorman (Roman Eye), 18 February 2010

Tree talk is the party line of the intelligent listening forest
the smooth voiceless no breeze whisper rustling
inside the green upper tiers fogbound blue
....the deep aether growth song stirring
down in each tender quiet working sub-earth redwood shoot

the old ones have a way of communicating with each other
....there are heart flutters in the dark air
with the chainsaws arriving at dawn

Family ring: ring of coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) sprouting from stump of older tree, Muir Woods National Monument: photo by Edward Z. Yang, 19 June 2005

Foggy redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), Redwood National Park, California: photo by Scott Catron, 2 August 2003

File:Trees and sunshine.JPG

Sunlight shining through redwoods in Muir Woods: photo by Rich S5812, 2007

Coastal redwoods, Muir Woods: photo by Zoo Music girl, 25 September 2012

Coastal redwoods, Muir Woods: photo by Steph Gajewski (sig1025), 27 April 2011


TC said...

Do Trees Communicate?

Ed Baker said...

I had friends who used to go up to the top of those Redwoods to study the life forms that for eons had lived up there....

that word/sound "shootthe" ....

nice, precise "Senior Word"


Chainsaw Massachre .... a metaphor for our fucking culture !

TC said...


The two big ones here are 107 years old, won as potted-plant prizes at the 1906 SF World Exposition, and they have held this crumbling landfill hillside together through all the rocking of the faults over the very many years. In dubious thanks, successive generations of property owners have laid siege to them more than once. Meanwhile the abundant local ecology they create has made this little patch by the freeway feeder a home to many wild critters, some seen (raccoons, possums, squirrels, crows & c.), others microscopic.

The latest ripsnorting assault of the contracted professionals is scheduled to begin in, let's see... two and a half hours.

Ed Baker said...

Hey Tom,
as I recall my friends, who went to both Reed and the University in Eugene worked with this guy, Richard Preston. I think that he was the very first human to go to the top of a 400 for Sequoia .... I remember Judy and Chip telling me that they actually stayed on... camped on the top for a week at a time to study and document the microorganism life forms THAT ONLY LIVED THERE....

Hey, watch this film... it will shooththe through your mind and forever reside in your imagination :

TC said...


Bingo, that's the ticket.

I found it streamed a bit better here, by the way:

Richard Preston: Climbing the world's biggest trees (TED talk on the coastal redwood rainforests, 2008)

Ed Baker said...

after watching this film.... and now just beyond the chills and the foggy-eyes I noticed that he (and his group went up and into this Tree Culture
in 2008 ... that's about 40 years after my friends and their friends so did !

I also got a chill with his observation/ words:

"redwoods grow back into themselves" [and I guess that he is saying that
the giant redwood support and nourish their own being ?


even if they are cut dow
with such an huge root system
they will
eventually, it may take them 4,000 years to so do
reclaim their environs ?

also it struck me that there remains only 4 % of the redwoods .... is that what these morons are cutting down ?

where the hell are the protesters ? Standing in line to get a job at the mall that will be built on the newly cleared area ?

TC said...


The most notable reaction to clear-cutting of the coastal rainforest has been tree-sitting.

What's about to happen here, on the other hand, is being called "lifting the canopy".

(As in, take a seat right over there, relax, ignore the whine of the saw and have a nice canopy-lift, ancient museum of a million living micro-worlds...)

Hazen said...

Amazing, these trees, all trees. Near here, on top of Salt Pond Mountain, there used to be a stand of giant hemlocks, the trees Preston refers to as cousins of the West Coast redwoods. People around here called it a virgin forest. The trees somehow survived the great timbering-off that commenced with the coming of the white man. (We're far to quick to see only the monetary value in anything.) Those primeval trees and the eco-system they created were about an hour’s hike off the dirt road that went over the mountain. They’re gone now. Over the last thirty-plus years we’ve watched them die, from both the wooly adelgid invasion and from air pollution that blows down from industrialized areas up north, the same poisoned air that’s also killing off evergreens growing along the ridgelines. I quit going there years ago. Too god damned depressing. The last thing the trees need is me moping about. “Los árboles mueren de pie.” "Trees die standing up."

Ed Baker said...

the Salt Pond Mountain that I know is near me.... down in Virginia ... the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
on the Trail of the Lonesome Pine....

where is the one in California ?

and are y'all near Takilma ? I got stories circa 1973 of there.....

those dirt roads going up the mountain.... logging truck non-sto haul-assing down the mountain road caring cut trees chained to the flat-bed trailers....

even Gary Snyder and his buddies were afraid of them.... they moved safely wayyyyyyyy up north
just ahead of the pollution that followed them up the coast .....

y'all out there yet wearing gas masks ..... and

are you west of the fault line waiting for the land's fall into the Pacific ?

I mean, with no Redwoods', Sequoias', and Cedars'

deep-deep root systems

who's / what is maintaining the INTEGRITY of the land? Mother Earth ? or Mother Feinstein ?


Yes, "Tree talk is [still] the party line" -- in some places at least, the walk down Steep Ravine trail from Pan Toll (as you'll remember), where looking up through those "old ones" one can still catch a glimpse of something not unlike the last photo here (Steph Gajewski's Muir Woods). Hope those chainsaws have left you in peace by now.

aditya said...

what trees! WOW!

jogger's lane





Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore said...


Will we have to invent our own
forest of trees, O God, our own

clear-water lakes reflecting back upside down in
rippling spindly black
the pine-trees lining them? The peaceful
ivory pavilion, match-light to light up
iron lanterns on hooks, a little
orange light inside the
forest deeps with a
bright day-blue sky above it all, as in a
painting by Magritte? Will we be

forced to eat what we ourselves have
made of this earth, or will You bring it all

back for us? Could we be
turned completely around in ourselves to face
renewal on our own?

To shave our
excesses back to the bone,
the shining white sentinels of our assembled
bones, semaphores on a
dark horizon to generations yet


Maybe we've tried to
disinvent it, Lord, take the whole thing
down tack by tack, atom by
atom, to fly the
threads that hold life together in the
air like tentative webs looking for a
new landing ledge. We've tried to

draw up out of life's bowels everything useful to make our
machinery run — we'll

suck it dry to make our
machinery run! We've

put our faces flat down onto its grate to
scare it into submission, Bikini Island, un-
inhabitable now, Chernobyl, ghost-town of a
thriving city, dead
electric wires like
tightropes whose tightrope
walkers have all
fallen to their deaths during the
Saturday matinee.

We tear into her with childish eagerness.
We're too
sophisticated now to have to approach the
earth with anything like


When we
reduce the universe to a
sigh or
wisp of smoke
twisting above a Formica tabletop in a
lab, we still find ourselves
gazing at a
reflection of
ourselves. Wave of green

light in the
air above the tabletop, emerald-flecked
suds of light broiling froth from
eternity to eternity in the

darkened lab after hours, droplets of original
matter forming on the inside of the
outside, and all along the
rim of the
rimless, but one single

real seed in the belly of its
sprouting has all the
quintillions of creation's

live energies within it to prove beyond the
power of doubt the

resiliency of blooms that go

even past the death of nuclear rooms.

Even past the
death of nuclear rooms.

(from A Maddening Disregard for the Passage of Time, Ecstatic Exchange, 2009)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Beautiful poem on a sad topic. BTW, back when roads were smaller and vehicles followed suit, Mechanized Man simply cut a roadthrough the redwood’s intestines rather than lopping off its entire body.

ACravan said...

Extremely beautiful and utterly heartbreaking. I only once ever spoke on an actual party line -- many years ago, obviously -- when a kind woman out in a very rural location accepted my request to use her phone to call home so that my family wouldn't worry about me. I'm glad I had the experience. At this remove, I would have a difficult time explaining to my daughter and her friends what a party line is/was and how a thing like that existed. Curtis

TC said...

Some exhausting noisy days later, I've just lost the comment explaining how this battle went, that is, in that way we ought to have known it would go, the way it was always going to go, the way it feels like all the battles have been going and are going to go, it wasn't even really a battle, we submitted passively as is expected of the old and powerless, knew we had lost the battle even before it began, the trees had lost their thick lower tiers, the wild colonies therein had lost their naturally furnished apartments, and the continuous lethal roar of the freeway feeder was amplified x hell-decibels as if "miked up" due to the removal of the thick baffle of living greenery which protected this derelict oasis of the elderly until Monday last.

TC said...

(And by the way, no -- of course, you can't really have wondered -- we did not "own" those trees.)

Ed Baker said...

I missed something... What WAS the original reason that they cut these trees down ?
A threat to National Security ?

or was it that they wanted to use them to make a diorama of a Redwood Virgin Forest in the National Museum of American History and charge admission for future generations of poets to ogle ?

one of my greatest pleasures/memories is being with Judy "x" under a giant Sequoias or Redwoods and non-stop fucking in nature surrounded ..

they and I just majestically stood erect and waved, unashamedly, in that warm-Pacific breeze....

TC said...

They said it was about the light.

But the arborist pointed out it's a north facing slope. No light.

You know you're in deep trouble when the professionals get caught agreeing you.

The genie of the domain said, politely, Please spare the trees.

The owner of the trees said... nothing... went away... and when the trusting genie had turned her back -- armageddon.

So that was that. They were "his" trees.

Ed Baker said...

what ever happened to your political leaders ? They all must be here in D.C. creating a police state and masturbating ....

those north-slope giant trees were the only thing in the way of all of that California pollution/smog from traveling up into Oregon and Washington ?

Mose23 said...

the smooth voiceless no breeze whisper rustling

the deep aether growth song stirring

I love the half echo of the metre here.

Visiting friends in Llan Ffestiniog, we took a walk through the old deciduous woods. Nearer to the village you come suddenly to a commercial conifer plantation; all sound stops and the air hangs lifeless.

ACravan said...

I've disconnected my Facebook account this week (I don't know whether weakness or simple stupid curiosity made me start it and I don't think it was moral strength that made me discontinue it; just a physically sick feeling brought on daily facing an Old Faithful of verbal abuse and self-abuse), but if I hadn't and it would connect with this, I'd hit the "Like" button, especially for Wooden Boy's last comment, which really hits home. Curtis