oswald west trunk b&w2

I was weaned in the land of giants: called the Redwood Empire home as a child. When wafted away to the Pacific Northwest I became a student of the Douglas Fir- Hemlock forest but the towering firs barely compared. Forays into the woods to study the world of the Douglas fir brought me pleasure but when I discovered the realm of the Sitka spruce my heart sprang to song. The mass of these trees still bowls me over. Though not nearly as full in size or height as the coast redwoods the Sitka spruce has a magic all its own. The flaky gray bark, the prickly needles, and a crown that earned it the title  “the ugliest of trees” from one of  my professors all give this tree its own cachet. Although, I never understood what that prof thought was ugly about this tree. Of all of the trees, this one speaks to me the most. If trees can talk, this is THE one that speaks my language.

oswald west trunk 5 b &woswald west trunk 3 b & w

As they grow to maturity, their trunks are wide and solid. Later in decay they take on a different attitude. They become more fluid in form as they move to some great planetary rhythm – the rhythm tapped out by the cycle of life.  Some dance solo modern dances, some line dance with sprouts of fir hemlock, and cedar, others just stand to the side like wallflowers. But in any form they are magnificent and a part of an incredible and complex ecosystem full of shadow, light, life and death.

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