Redwoods and Remembrance

Honor tree in Butano Redwoods State Park
Honor tree in Butano State Park

I have spent the past week in England, not to attend the opening of the Olympics, but rather to attend my 90-year-old granny’s memorial service. As with all such occasions, the sadness of loss is mixed with the happiness of being with family and sharing memories.

I left England about 20 years ago, so really have only seen granny during family events and Christmas gatherings. She did visit me in California on several occasions—and each time we went to the redwoods. To Montgomery Woods, the Grove of Old Trees and Butano State Park. These groves of towering giants—unlike any other places on Earth—left a lasting impression. One of her favorite photos was of her amid the redwoods at the Grove of Old Trees in Sonoma County.

My oldest son who came with me cannot imagine anyone older than his “GG.” And even to me, she is my only real link to a Britain that went to war, survived bombs and rationing, and emerged into a bleak 1950s while America boomed. I choose to mark her memory and that of her husband Dick who died 21 years ago, by dedicating a tree at Butano Redwoods State Park in their memory through the League’s memorial program. It’s a place we went together. It’s a place that I have helped protect over my 15 years at the League through various land acquisitions. And it’s now a place I can take my sons to talk about their very English relatives. To me, being in the presence of these timeless giants and remembering past happy times grounds me and makes me feel alive, part of a larger world, and at peace.

I’d love to know how the redwoods have helped you honor the memory of a loved one or cope with a loss. Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories below. Thanks for sharing.

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2 Responses to “Redwoods and Remembrance”

  1. Bobbe Jones

    WHERE can I go live to live in the redwoods? What town? What little city?
    In and out of southern california all my life, and I have had more than enough.
    Can you help with data? Thanks.

  2. Sweating in Florida

    I share both your national origin and the privilege of happy memories of the redwoods. In my case, the redwoods were the main attraction on the itinerary of my first trip with the woman who has been my partner ever since. A subsequent trip focused on the Giant Sequoias and other delights of the High Sierra, but my memories of the coast redwoods are far happier, and not just because of the excitement of a first shared adventure.

    The coast redwoods possess a singular power to stir the spirit. Through a magical combination of their age, size, often mist-shrouded setting, and expression of sheer natural splendor – tinctured, perhaps, by the added poignancy of their threatened status – they evoke a keen awareness of the mystery and beauty of life on earth.

    I envy your proximity to these magnificent trees, but I thank you for your contribution to protecting them. I know that one day I will return there, possibly alone after time has exacted its ruthless toll on a May-September couple. And when I, too, have gone, the redwoods that moved us will remain, silent witnesses to great happiness and love.


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