The Peaceful Giants
It’s hard to pin down a favourite spot in the world, the earth is scattered with endless gems. One place however, that will always come to mind, is the Sequoia National Park in California, USA. I remember being amazed by pictures of Redwoods in National Geographics when I was younger, but not even the fold out pages of these giants can capture their grandeur.
The first time I arrived at this magnificent park, was late one night when winter could still be felt in the air. It was almost midnight and my companion and I were driving up a dark road, headlights illuminating stems of such great sizes that my imagination could only but run wild to what was lurking out there.
We found an empty parking lot, deep within the park where we spent the night. After having a midnight picnic, we reclined the car seats as far as possible and propped our heads on the dashboard with all the warm things we could find in the car. Above us, with their dark leaves, framing the star scattered sky, we were staring up at giants. A picture, completely engrained in my mind, never to forget.
I awoke early the next morning, in a dream-like haze, to find myself dwarfed at the feet of the giants. Arriving somewhere during the night is always the best. It allows you to experience everything all over again come daytime. It’s like arriving twice.
With the grass still icy, we marvelled at Crescent Meadow for most of the day, astonished by the ancients in the surrounding. Time had hollowed out some of the trunks while others stood with blackened bark contrasted against an orange glaze where lighting and fire had struck in the past. While most stood strong, reaching dizzying heights some lay fallen, at peace in the meadow, with root networks protruding patterns into the open air. How a small pine cone, fitting in my fist, can produce creatures of this magnitude, is another of nature’s miracles.
It’s one thing experiencing a place like this, it’s another, experiencing it for the second time. We returned to the grove of the giants, about 16 months later, this time with an additional travel companion. Back in the Crescent Meadow, spring had time to transform the icy yellow field from the previous time, into a lush green sea of grass. It was only upon returning that I could confirm that my memories of the place weren’t a dream, but in fact, real. We revisited all places we discovered the year before, everything exactly as I remembered it. Spring, however, had another surprise in store for us. It was bear season. A black bear, still wearing its cinnamon coat, spent most of the morning grazing in the meadow, enchanting all the passersby, putting them in an awkward state somewhere between fear and delight. We passed by later again, finding him napping on a log – we might as well have been inside a nature documentary.
The Crescent Meadow is only but one tiny part of the Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park, but it’s a place I could get lost in again and again. When you find yourself on the other side of the world, separated in time and space from the people you share experiences with, it’s sometimes hard to be sure whether they were real or not. It’s something I struggle with sometimes, but I know deep down inside that the memories and experiences are real. It will always be a part of us, binding us in a special way. Nostalgia is bittersweet.
*original artwork can also be viewed here *