I have lived next to this grove of redwoods for the past 7.5 years. It’s one of those parts of the neighborhood that is in the background, always there and sometimes enters the conversation. “I live in Seabright, near the NHS headquarters. On so-and-so street.” “Oh, do you live on that street with the redwood grove?” “Yes! Isn’t that a lovely spot? A fairy ring right in Santa Cruz.”
I have no idea how long these trees have been here, but they have the potential of living longer than this city, indeed, longer than this nation. They are sentient beings who feel and communicate in ways we can’t even understand. They are remarkable in their robustness, able to withstand both heat and fog and in their majestic thrust to the sky, they house many other beings that I encounter daily in my life in this neighborhood. These great trees also bring us oxygen while recycling our CO2, they are an integral part of the health of this city.
I woke this morning with a broken heart upon learning that 5 of the trees in this grove would be cut down this week. Today they are removing the branches. These great life forms will live, broken and seeping and injured for the next week or so, until the crane can come in and remove the rest of their giant trunks. My heart aches, knowing that this happened because a foundation of a house or two, which most likely won’t stand more than a hundred years, is the cause of these beautiful beings having to die.
All life is sacred. I am no more important or less important than that tree, in some ways, in the natural order of things, that tree’s impact on this planet will be greater than mine. And yet, for humans, our lives feel so consequential that we can value the cement under a decades-old house over the life of a centuries-old being.
So now, through my process of mourning, I am turning toward transitioning to gratitude for all that these trees have brought for all the years they’ve been here. And all the years my family has lived under them. I am imagining what they will become and knowing that the life force that was in them will be released and just like my mom, will be free in the non-physical.
Dylan and I said goodbye and rode our bike throughout the neighborhood for one last glimpse of the canopy, to see how far away we could see them from. We saw them from Verve, Day’s Market, the Seabright Brewery, From Cayuga Street and Wyndham street and Seabright Avenue, and yes, the beautiful head-on view of them as we rode down Clinton. Our environment here in Seabright will never be the same, I wonder how many neighbors on other streets even knew that their ecosystem, their daily view, would be so altered?
I hope the houses stand for a long time.
I hope someone builds beautiful beauty out of the wood from these trees.
I hope the black squirrels that live in the trees, the hummingbirds that feed in them, the crows that perch in the highest branches all find a good home today.
I hope that humans can learn to live in harmony with Nature. She is our home. No matter how many buildings we build, we will always be beasts of the forests in our wild core.