Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Redwood Cathedral

One of the highlights of my stay in San Francisco was a trip north to the Muir Woods. John Muir, of course, is a fellow Scot, though to our national disgrace he is barely known at home. The redwoods are an astonishing sight. Some of them are 2000 years old, and it is simply impossible to comprehend any living thing being that old.

When a redwood dies or is felled, it is common for a ring of trees to grow around the spot, rising from the roots, root crown or stump of the original tree. A number of mature rings, or groves, can be seen in California, surrounding trees that were felled in the 1850s by the Gold Rushers. They are a beautiful sight. Apparently someone has postulated that those original trees might also have formed rings around trees of which there is now no trace, and on and on, so that every single redwood is descended from a single source. Now that may be a touch too romantically anthropormorphic, but it is a lovely notion all the same.

Brian McNeill, one of Scotland's finest musicians and singers, wrote a wonderful song about John Muir, Muir and the Master Builder. Given my background, it resonates strongly with me. It was a pleasure to walk around the woods bearing his name.

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