I just finished this painting this afternoon and am pretty excited about it. This is my very first memory. It took place shortly after my mom married my step-dad, and he took us out to the redwood forest that grew behind his little cottage. I will never forget how I felt, standing before that spongy, felty red log sprouting ferns and moss. I felt a Presence there, enveloping me and claiming me. I was flooded with a sense of belonging. Even though that stand of redwoods has been clearcut, never to return, it lives on in my heart. The Presence I felt there has been my guiding light ever since.
When I was growing up, my Dad’s job required quite a few moves. I’ve talked to other people who changed schools as often as they changed wardrobes, and it hits us in two ways- either we become permanent rolling stones or we spend our adult years yearning for that spot on the planet we can finally sink our roots and call home. Now for one reason or other I’ve lived here in Illinois for WAY more years than I’d planned. It was never going to be home. No indeed. It was always just the place I found myself, embarrassingly enough, until I managed to go home. Home for me, I always felt, was the Pacific Norhwest. You know, where all the big trees are. Only, they aren’t. Not anymore. We humans have hit the area like a plague of locusts. Walk a little way into a redwood forest and you find it is nothing but a heartbreakingly thin ribbon, hiding clearcut. Or, as I did recently, take a look around Seattle. Where I remember Douglas Firs looming mysteriously in banks of fog, there is now nothing but 10 lanes of freeway.
Huh. I didn’t see any of that coming. How can humans dare to cut down thousand year old trees? What were they thinking?
There is nothing like being confronted with the permanent loss of something you treasured to bring home things like mortality. I don’t have a thousand years to wait for those trees to grow back, even supposing the communities would refrain from paving the land over in the meantime. I guess maybe I’ll stick around here, after all, and watch my baby oak tees grow.
It’s snowing today…