The New Year dawns through the light of Conifers; destination Portland, OR accomplished

I’ve spent about a week in Portland with my friend, David.  Most of my time has been with him but when he returned to work I ventured out on my own in hopes of finding some meditative space.  I’d been feeling spiritual removed the last few days and what better day to reconnect than Samhain, the day when the veil between worlds is the thinnest and one can sit quietly and contemplate what one hears.  So I drove out to the Hoyt Arboretum to commune with the trees.  Since exploring the West Coast, I’ve been surrounded with a vast forest of foreign foliage.  I wanted very much to understand them more.

The day was cold and the sky weeped a mythical mist.  I would not be detered; I curled myself into my rain jacket, covered my head with my hood and pulled my knee highs up. The coniferous beings caught my attention immediately so my hike focused around them.  I came to a patch of redwoods and sequoias.  They are so similar that I spent some time trying to differentiate them.  Obviously as their latin names connote, these two are relatved.  However, I came to the conclusion that Sequoiadendron gigantum, the giant sequoia, tend to have more spindly spiderlike limbs that spiral and condense towards the top and have less actual foliage than the Sequoia sempervirens, the coast redwood.  The bark of both trees is thick and furry like the skin of a wooly mammoth; as one might guess, the redwood’s bark is a richer red hue compared to the sequoia’s slight gray.

I continued along the conifer trail, stopping on occasion under the shelter of a scented cedar or to listen to strange birds whose chirps sounded like someone hunting and pecking at computer keys.  I came across a Western Larch and fell in love immediately.  I ran my hands along the knobby drooping branches covered in thick and surprisingly soft spiky needles.  Thick clusters of pine cones were situated upright on each branch as though they were an army climbing a rope ladder and the trunk was twisted and harsh like an apple tree.  The sun came out shortly for its last appearance of the evening as I came upon my new friend so we were able to enjoy a slight temporary warmth.

I desperately needed to have this unspoken interaction with the Larch.  I felt its ancientness, its oddity, its outstretched gangly limbs pulling the energy from the otherworld.  It was soft when it looked harsh.  I appreciated it was not what it seemed and somehow I knew that when I reached to it.  I felt far more connected and ready for the next leg of my journey.

Tomorrow, I head down the West Coast.  By next week, I will be in Oakland investigating and participating in the Occupation.  Wish me luck.  I am feeling adequately centered and very motivated to put my energy to good use.

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4 thoughts on “The New Year dawns through the light of Conifers; destination Portland, OR accomplished

  1. When driving through the redwood forests along Pacific Coast Highway in California, they had the feeling of some huge, outdoor cathedral. John Muir describes his feelings similarly in his writings, like The Yosemite. I’m sure you’d enjoy his writing too; all of them are available for free on the web (John Muir Writings and Project Gutenberg).

    Nice photos. The one with the red trail makes me want to go for a wander.

  2. Fade,
    I enjoyed your conifer piece and it reminded me of my visit to the giant trees. In England, a few years ago, I stumbled across Cedars of Lebanon that were as huge as any of our sequoias in California and was amazed! That cedar was used to build the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem in ancient times. Now they are all cut, but the English preserved some on their island which I saw! Hurrah for big trees!

    • There were a couple Cedar of Lebanon there. They were pretty large but not as big as the sequoia. Then again the sequoia here aren’t as big as those in California either, more than likely.

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