BAY AREA ARBOREAL WONDERS: Magical Encounters / Spiritual Appointments with Our Beloved Old Acquaintances
(Henry David Thoreau)
|Mythic Manzanita @ Morgan Territory|
|Oak Defying Elements @ Vasco Caves|
|Lumbering Behemoth @ Tilden Park|
Bay Area tree lovers (Dendrophiles!) have long rejoiced in a blessed abundance of healthy forest amidst urban surroundings. (Note: four years of extreme drought have threatened, weakened and hastened mortality for thousands of trees; in one instance, at Del Valle Regional Park, the District is removing 100 untenable Poplars and replacing them with drought-tolerant Oak.)
|Weathered Pines @ Tomales Point Trailhead|
|Octopotamus Oak @ Pleasanton Ridge|
|Lone Twin Oaks @ Sunol Regional Wilderness|
| California Buckeye @ Diablo Foothills / Castle Rock|
Dendrophiles, count your hundreds of thousands of blessings for a myriad of species of trees dotting Bay Area open spaces and natural places. Trees glorious trees, sheltered in 65 East Bay Regional Park District designations; harbored in an astounding 51 State Park sites; thriving in 10 National Parks, including the world-famous Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore; and last but not least, providing shade, succor, bird habitat and eye candy in countless backyards and city and county parks.
|Famous "W" Sycamore @ Sunol Regional Wilderness|
Bay Area trees have it good today. That is, unless you happen to be a reviled Blue Gum Eucalyptus just trying to make a living in the East Bay Hills. Long a contentious "fire safety" issue, the Australian transplant is also the bane of ecologists for its bio-adaptive ability to change soil conditions to its benefit but to the detriment of native flora. After the devastating Oakland Hills firestorm of 1991,
neighborhood and environmental groups pressed for their removal, along with a few thousand other non-native fire-hazardous trees. The divisive issue only recently has bloomed into public consciousness, especially since news and clamor of the campaign broke, spearheaded by various public agencies to partner up with a master plan to cut 'em all down, root 'em all out.
|Elephantine Trees @ Muir Woods Nat'l Monument|
Not to be accomplished without the herbicide Garlon 4 and Garlon 3A, of course, whose judicious applications (quote unquote) will introduce into the environment over the next ten years untold amounts of toxic Monsanto RoundUp. No matter how you apply it, poisonous chemicals will leech into the immediate biosphere for half a generation.
According to the Claremont Canyon Conservancy website, the herbicides "will be used in such small quantities and under such strict controls that it will not be a carcinogen." (What would Rachel Carson say?)
|Fractal Oak @ Pleasanton Ridge|
|Dendrolithic Monuments @ Redwood Regional Park|
No matter if it's the right approach or the best thing to do, Gambolin' Man will go out on a limb and proclaim the plan, while conceding scientific and public safety arguments, is an unabashed case of Might Makes Right, and an irrepressible urgency to spend a $5.6 million dollar FEMA windfall underwriting the clear cutting Operation Nuke-alyptus.
Dwarf Sargent's Cypress @ Pine Mountain
Tree Rock Fusion @ Vasco Caves
|Stump of Ancient Redwood, North Coast|
Think of venerable Bristlecone Pine, individual trees robust and living (and half-dead) for thousands of years, in California's nutrient-poor, high altitude White Mountains.
|Cached "Egg Horns" @ Ohlone Regional Wilderness|
Yet here they exist, in splendid isolation on that high, distant ridge.
|Holy Convergence @ Redwood Regional Park|
|Spooky Manzanita Brush @ Gary Giacomini|
Yeah, a lot to think about when it comes to the divine nature of trees, the heavenly trees of nature.
|Medusa Oak @ Wildcat Creek|
For trees, you have come to know and appreciate, have a supernal ability to infuse your spirit with calm and peace, and pervade your senses with joy and love! Truly, trees are holy, something "only God can make" as you smile and nod at the reference to Joyce Kilmer's famous poem.
|Sculptural Madrone @ Alpine Lake, Marin County|
Over the years, certain stands, copses, clusters, groves and woodsy tracts have become part and parcel of your dendro-cosmology. Individual trees you've fallen in love with, whom you romanticize and apotheosize, standing out from all others.
And now, enjoy a few of Gambolin' Man's favorite tree profiles:
From Morgan Territory Explorations:
|Glorious Oak @ San Pablo Creek|
|Olympian Oak @ Ohlone Wilderness|
From Ohlone Wilderness Hike:
"A sentinel Oak sits off trail over 2000 feet above sea level in the Ohlone Regional Wilderness near Livermore, California. A stand-out tree if you've ever seen one, an antediluvian specimen with a trunk five feet wide - such rotund girth! - and deeply furrowed bark, richly textural, an ancient and sentient being as though Ga-Be-Nah-Gewn-Wonce himself incarnate ("John Smith"). There is sanctity and purity about this tree. You spend an inordinate amount of time admiring it, wondering about it, inspecting its various oddities, scrutinizing its subtle profundities, fascinated with lichen and moss growth and dozens of acorns cached in the deep grooves."
From Muir Woods Cathedral of Trees:
"The massive trees of Bohemian and Cathedral Groves are up to 800 years old, soaring sky-high-ward, tapering out of sight with their huge canopy containing entire living ecosystems. These specimens compare to some of the biggest Redwoods in existence up and down the coast.
|Titan Sentinel @ Muir Wood Nat'l Monument|
|Redwoods in the Mist @ Steep Ravine|
Today, it is just middle-aged. Will it be alive a thousand years from now, in the year 3000? Will we paltry humans still be around to bear witness?"
"Same thing goes for the big Cottonwoods and the 100+ year old Valley and Interior Live Oak, thirsty trees which require year-round access to water. In a geological conundrum, the preserve is a subtle water-dependent ecosystem where plants thrive in harsh conditions owing to ground water that is forced to the surface from far away by complex subterranean activities that somehow push it to this area."
From Arboreal Wonders of California:
|Sycamore-lined Alameda Creek @ Sunol Regional Wilderness|
|Supernal Madrone @ Rock City|
It’s easy to see why the mighty Oak – Emerson's “the creation of a thousand forests in one acorn” – was so revered by autochthonous tribal peoples in North America and ancients the world over. Wherever this ubiquitous keystone species is found, it has always provided an important dietary staple for humans, Oak groves create drought-tolerant islands of shade and coolness, and spawn environments conducive to a rich wildlife habitat. In California alone, Oak forests sustain over 100 species of birds, while multiple dozens of its land mammals rely on Oak in some symbiotic relationship during their lifetime."
From Original Jurassic Park - Oakland's Redwood Forest:
|Western Juniper @ Mount Diablo State Park|
"Make no mistake - this ain't wilderness, but it was once primal forest where grizzlies, mountain lions, condors and bald eagles prowled the ridges and patrolled the skies. Before the saw mills of the 1860s wiped them out, this locale supported the largest, tallest and most magnificent Sequoia sempervirens on earth.
Malcolm Margolin describes today’s present crop of offspring as a 'race of adolescent giants rising out of logged off remains. . . .With their great size and a botanic history that stretches back 100 million years to the Age of Reptiles, the redwoods . . . seem aloof from the modern world.' Indeed they are, and so are you when standing in their midst, lost and mindless to civilization’s buzzing, humming, whirring and mechanized noises down on the flats."
Check out Gambolin' Man's Paean to Arboreal Wonders of California
|I on U White Alder @ Pt. Reyes Nat'l Seashore|
Dendrophiles, please share some of your own favorites!
Lest Auld Acquaintance be forgot, here are a few more:
Bird Rich Canopy of Side Yard Oak @ North Berkeley
|Stand-out Pine Tree @ Conlon Knoll|