In today’s post, I will explain how trees do not grow like beanstalks, why Lady Bird Johnson was a badass, and how I tried to increase the world’s karma.
Trees Are Not Stars
I was about to begin explaining how ancient these coastal redwoods are by saying that when you look up at the lowest branch, some 190 feet off the ground, you are looking back in time. Looking up the details on the growth rate,* I came across a discussion about what would happen if you carved your initials in a trunk and came back ten years later. How high up would that move, and does it depend on whether the tree is an oak, an aspen, or a redwood?
In cartoons, e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk, the plant always pushes out of the ground and then up. However, trees grow more like telescopes than beanstalks. They put out buds, twig, then branch, and the initial bud then buds on top of itself again. The trunk portion on the ground gets thicker; it doesn’t move upward. Your carved initials stay at ground level. This changed my understanding of trees. But then, trees are mysterious.
We spent our first night in Garberville, which is ground zero to Humboldt and redwoods. It’s also ground zero to cannabis cultivation. As I stood in line at a local bakery for bagels in the morning, considering whether to carry cinnamon apple bread pudding back to the hotel, I was glad to see a local paper still in print. But these are new times, as a lengthy article explained out how to fill out the permit for proper water reclamation for cannabis cultivation to the California State Water Resources Board. Another article addressed a proposal to put a wind turbine farm out in nearby coastal waters, while a local columnist mused at length about the upcoming Taste of Cannabis festival. The line of muddy trucks stretched in front of the organic coffee drive-thru hut was longer than my local In ‘n’Out.
But we’re off for our own, non-substance-induced mystical experience today, off to drive through Avenue of the Giants.
An America Worth Fighting For
The road through these coastal redwoods is a scenic drive through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, with auto tour stops that sport walking trails and plaques, as well as tiny towns with more than one Center for World Peace and Understanding next to the shops with burl carvings. A burl, by the way, is a part of the tree that gets distressed and starts to grow anew. It can look like just a bump or actually grow out a new trunk.