“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir
Nostalgia for the days of rambling and roaming through the trees – springtime in California – when the air was thick with pine and my heart was full of adventure and promise.
Skirting the edges of the mountain, on the road into the forest. Occasionally the trees would break for a moment and glimpses of the landscape would appear, wide and vast and lovely. Mother Nature’s silence singing through the valley. I must have pulled over 5 or 6 times on the way up there.
But I liked being within the trees. I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I spent the first years of my life in a country without a lot of them. The beach was my playground back then. Then there were the eucalyptus trees of Australia with their distinct scent and the gumnuts that would cover the ground to be trodden on or collected by mini-explorers.
We used to play games under the lemon tree in our garden; we would skip around it and sing a song and all of a sudden we were transported into another world. My memories are hazy from those days, but I remember the worlds we visited. Worlds where magic was real and pixies danced in the sky.
Then there was that big, old willow tree just around the corner, our secret sanctuary. I remember it’s leaves were so thick that it created a sort of leafy cave that we could hide inside – dark but lovely and safe. We would pretend it was our home and cook dinner with sticks and leaves and rocks for our imaginary friends. We made perfume out of soil and rainwater, and with scabby knees and tangled hair we would run home at the end of the day. The world was changing all the time back then, but one thing we knew for sure was that that big, old willow tree would always be there.
The trees at Sequoia were different to the ones I’d known from my childhood. First of all, they were bigger. Bigger even than that willow tree. And they smelled different. Different to that familiar eucalyptus scent from the Australian bush. And there were more of them. More trees than I’d probably ever seen in my life. All huddled together like a peaceful army, stretched as far as the horizon, as far as my eyes could see. And every one of them different, for no two things are the same when created by Earth.
Then I was 7 again. Skipping through the trees like I did back then. The sun was setting and the reddish tones of the forest became ever more rich and vibrant – glowing.
And that smell of pine, oh if you have smelt it you can never forget it.
It follows me now. It haunts me sometimes.
When I smell it I am transported back there, to the middle of the forest, dancing and skipping through the trees.