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On a Redwood

When my mother moved into her small apartment in Chico forty years ago she chose well. Most of the apartments in the complex overlooked only asphalt parking lots. A few were built so that the apartments faced each other from across a swath of lawn and trees. My mother took one of these on the ground floor.

Just beyond her patio, the builders had left a dawn redwood standing. Thus, for forty years that redwood grew beside her as she lived her life of friends, family, tennis. She lived her life very, very well; teaching all who knew her how to live and how to age and how to die. The redwood grew and witnessed all the moments of all her years. Today, through a quirk of fate — call it destiny — the same redwood grows beside and shelters my terrace across the way. The sun sets behind it every day silhouetting it against the oranges and pinks of the western sky. Absent the wrecking hand of man, the redwood will survive the apartments and the town and the nation itself. Like mother’s memory, it stands indifferent to time and fire. It abides.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Terry January 8, 2021, 10:11 AM

    Gerard, you could not have fit this message in at a better time than currently.

    Thank you for being here.

  • truth January 8, 2021, 10:25 AM

    thanks, as always your insights and way of expressing them lift us up.

  • James O'Neil January 8, 2021, 1:37 PM


  • Dirk January 8, 2021, 3:21 PM

    Exactly why I hang here. Your wisdom, the ability to see Beauty in all aspects of life.

    As I’ve aged, I’ve become angry,,, can think of zero reasons for me to be angry. American Digest HAS become my chill pill.

    Thank you for that.


  • Lance de Boyle January 8, 2021, 4:13 PM

    Thanks, Gerard.

    There’s a lesson in that redwood.
    Confronted by bastards, resist and outlast them.
    When amidst the kind, show them your beauty.

  • Skorpion January 8, 2021, 5:25 PM

    Big old trees, rocks, and the ocean: they were here long before I was, and will be here long after I’m gone. Robinson Jeffers expressed the sentiment far better than I ever could.

  • ghostsniper January 9, 2021, 4:27 AM

    “The Sugar Maple’s Tale”


    Twenty feet northwest of the northwest corner of our porch stands a majestic sugar maple tree.

    It is easy to see, cloaked in its autumn’s golden garb, standing sentinel to the entrance of the forest.

    I’ve seen this tree many times and never considered the stories it holds but this morning I was captured by its very essence.

    The sugar maple’s tale is a long tale, spanning perhaps decades, but the tale is mainly silent, meant only for those with patience.

    Once, it was a mere seedling doomed from the beginning to end up in the forest creatures wintry pantry.

    But luck was in its favor and it took root in fertile ground and this is where the sugar maples tale begins.

    Left alone, by man, and bestowed with the richness of nature, all the essentials of life were in abundance and the sugar maple seedling drank deeply of this
    nectar of the forest floor.

    Through the seasons it changed and adapted drawing on its innate blueprint for success and flourished as other sugar maples have done for millennia.

    Providing food and shelter for natures creatures is the role of the sugar maple and the propensity to spread its seeds are its eternal legacy.

    I stood and watched the sugar maple this morning and I saw it through different eyes.

    Eyes that have grown to another way of life where the details are in the minute, the simple.

    The story of the sugar maple is more like a moving picture than a still shot because it is alive and

    interacting with its environment.

    But the observer, accustomed to a quicker pace, may not realize the life that ebbs and flows within and around.

    Only with patience and resolve will the sugar maple’s tale be discovered.

    A steady parade of leaves were showering down from this awesome sugar maple and I stood mesmerized in its grace,

    unable to pull my eyes from its captivating performance.

    One, two, three leaves at a time were falling from the top, middle and bottom of this stately tree.

    Many leaves would tumble, end for end.

    Some leaves would glide, with their stems as rudders, in a long, graceful, sweeping gesture much like a paper airplane.

    Others would spiral down, again led by their rudder, to land gently in the grass.

    Watching this maple I could silently hear it exclaim, ‘Look at me, look what I can do!’, and I could almost hear it chuckle.

    I noticed I was smiling at this thought.

    I observed this sugar maple for a few minutes and then I grew sad as I knew its current story would end soon as a new chapter would be revealed.

    Winter approaches and the sugar maple’s role will adjust to the change in climate, becoming largely dormant as it recedes into the background of my memories.

    But the sugar maple is a patient soul as it waits out winters harsh spell only to emerge ever stronger next spring.

    Then, I will see this sugar maple with new eyes, eyes of knowing, that the Sugar Maple’s Tale is eternal.

    –dl2, 2007

  • jwm January 9, 2021, 8:19 AM

    God bless you, Gerard, for being a light in these darkest of days.
    Thank you for this place.


  • Sam L. January 9, 2021, 8:38 AM

    You done GOOD, Gerard.

  • gwbnyc January 9, 2021, 12:30 PM

    off topic, perhaps of interest.
    wikileaks dump-


  • SteveS January 14, 2021, 1:31 PM

    Thanks for the reminder of our connectiveness, continuity and…impermanence.
    Oh, the histories, oh, the stories of the world of trees,. Especially Sequoiadendron!
    See “the Secret Life of Trees” and “the Overstory”

  • Boat Guy June 12, 2022, 5:04 AM

    Yes, thank you Gerard, for bringing the beauty of our physical world into focus. This site is indeed both a respite and inspiration.
    Unlike Dirk, I have many reasons to be angry, though thankfully none within my family and friends; my anger is about what is being done to them with malice aforethought by those in our “employ”. Your site is a reminder to cherish those beautiful things in our lives

  • jd June 12, 2022, 5:20 AM

    So glad you recycle, Gerard. Thank you for another timeless lovely.

  • ploughman June 12, 2022, 10:41 AM

    As was said many times when the era was more hopeful ” Invest in the millennium, Plant a sequoia”

  • Anonymous June 12, 2022, 1:01 PM

    There’s a Dawn Redwood in our backyard as well. What a beautiful tree planted by my wife’s mother. For scale, I built the 26′ tall barn sheltered underneath.

  • SoylentGreen June 12, 2022, 1:04 PM

    There’s a Dawn Redwood here in our North Carolina backyard as well. What a beautiful tree planted by my wife’s mother. For scale, I built the 26′ tall barn sheltered underneath. The barn doors are 10′ tall.

  • Richard G. June 12, 2022, 2:05 PM

    Metasequoia glyptostroboides dudeii.

  • Stan Smith June 12, 2022, 11:04 PM

    We bought our house in Newberg, Oregon in 2012. A small patch of 2-foot high seedlings in about 1/4 acre of our 4.75 acre property were what we called the “small trees,” as opposed to the “big trees” in an acre of stately Douglas Firs across the driveway from the “small trees.”

    Now, 10 years later, the “small trees” are 20 feet tall and beginning to attempt to rival their larger counterparts across the road. A reminder that life, and beauty, and nature will abide, struggle, and survive us all.

    • ghostsniper June 13, 2022, 4:25 AM

      Similarly, in 2006 I cut down about 30 mature trees of varying species to make room for a 24′ x 36′ office-workshop building. Since then, 16 years now, a flock of sycamore’s have grown up in the area behind the workshop and are now about 40-50′ tall. Sort of amazing. I estimate loosely that there are over 100,000 trees on our 4 acres. From 2′ saplings to 80′ oaks.

  • Foo June 13, 2022, 12:55 PM

    A bow, to the revealed…G,
    In the tibetan monk’s way…
    And I appreciate you, elder brother