14 January 2014

I think that I shall never see...

It's a redwood. Guess where? If you said California, you'd be wrong, but I can see why you said that.
Cong, Galway/Mayo border, 12th February, 2011
I did a fair part of my growing up in Northern California. Not San Francisco, which is only really northern California if you are from LA or San Diego, but the real Northern California of Humboldt County, the California of redwood forests, survivalists, Victorian grandeur, cold damp winters and possibly a fair amount of illegal decriminalised drug cultivation.

When I was a child, what today would be called a tween but in those days was just called a child as marketeers still hadn't tapped out the teen franchise yet, forests meant trees taller than offices (both because redwood trees are very, very large, and because the towns I lived in had no buildings higher than three to four stories). Redwoods typically grow up to 380ft (115 meters) in height, which is about twice the height of Liberty Hall, and live for well over 1500 years, about 30 times longer than Liberty Hall will if SIPTU has its way, and where I lived they were all around us.

If you've seen Return of the Jedi, you've seen redwoods. Basically all the scenes on Endor (that weren't shot in Elstree Studios in London) were filmed in the forest around me. While the forests almost certainly contained illicit potfarms, sadly Ewoks were just small people in costumes, so the reality was not quite as magical as the film portrayed. Still though, big trees are pretty cool.

Being in San Francisco a few weeks ago made me think of all of this. I had a vague plan to head back to the towns I grew up in before my fortieth birthday, but work and health intervened. I thought again about it as part of my trip to San Francisco, but weirdly it was the time of year that put me off - my memories are of a place bathed in late summer sun, like most of childhood I suppose, and I didn't want to see it in the grey cold of winter.

I think a part of me was just afraid of opening up a region of the past long since abandoned.

I'm not sure why I was thinking of this today, but I was. When you close your eyes and think of trees, you see oak and ash, scots pine and birch.

I see redwoods.



At 2:13 am, Blogger Alex Leonard said...

I close my eyes and see... The Larch. The Larch.


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