Saturday, April 12, 2008

If Lothlorien Were Full of Redwoods
"The Wild Trees"
by Richard Preston

The idea is that nearly half of this earth's life lives in the forest canopy. No one really knows because there isn't a set number on the species that inhabit this earth, but the forest canopy is "earth's secret ocean."

Redwoods are the giants of this earth, cousins to sequoias, and tower over the coast in northern California and the southern tip of Oregon. They amaze the crap out of me (literally! not really), and the amount of life in the canopies is amazing.

They're also vanishing, or have already vanished in large numbers because of logging, and care must be taken to keep these giant trees (some could be dated back to the Parthenon) from altogether being a glimpse into the past.

As I read this book I pictured dinosaurs walking through fields of tall redwoods, the brontosaurus grazing on the leaves at the bottom of the canopies (redwoods can get up to 37 stories tall - the tallest redwood is 379.1 feet, named Hyperion) and moving through vast oceans of giant things. It's a great escape.

Though that's not necessarily what "The Wild Trees" is about, entirely. The book mainly focuses on the people involved with discovering (meaning they measure the trees and study the life in them - redwoods are full of lichens (plant and fungi in symbiotic relationships) and epiphytes (plants that grow out of other plants)) the giant redwoods still on this planet. In this book we meet Steve Sillet, Marie Antoine, and Micheal Taylor (along with the author), among others, whose life quest is the study and discovery of a world many of us just gaze at and think, "wow."

It really is amazing stuff, and redwoods are amazing trees, and trees are amazing beings. It is all very fantastic to me, and for some reason opens the door to imaginations and daydreams about a time lost to us at present. The world is very old indeed.

This book was great. Not only does it highlight a fascinating living thing, the story is compelling, and it enlightens one to the state our world is in now and the mighty endurance of life on earth. Us humans are but a speck on the map compared to the ancient redwood forests. And something tells me they'll be here long after we're gone. Wow.


M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

The book is excellent.

The only dissappointment was the lack of color photos.

But that's taken care of now from a ground level view of several titans. Here are are photos of the trees in Atlas Grove and Grove of Titans...

California Redwoods Atlas Grove & Grove of Titans

Album links are included for larger photos - even one of a 3 foot thick chunk of canopy soil that fell from El Viejo del Norte.


M. D. Vaden of Oregon

Sheridan Sawyer said...

Fantastic website and pictures! Redwoods are truly amazing, and I hope I'm able to explore more of the forests one day, even if only for a weekend camping trip.