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August 27, 2020

Fire smoke in the San Gabriel Mountains

The devastating wildfires around California have caused heartbreaking loss – right alongside the devastation of equally fast-moving Covid-19 as we fight to fend off its spread.

If only we had the superpower of the ancient redwoods – some 2,000 years old -- that withstood last week’s fires in the state’s oldest park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park between Santa Cruz and San Francisco not far from the Pacific Coast. The park’s headquarters and other buildings were destroyed, but not the redwood groves. I wondered how the trees fended off the fires.

Was I surprised.

Coast redwoods are the world’s tallest trees -- over 360 feet high, or the height of a 35-story building. Its bark is one to two feet thick and its diameter reaches 10-15 feet. The older the tree, the thicker the bark. The trunks have deep grooves that run vertically, and it contain large amounts of tannin, a natural flame retardant that keeps the trees safe from fire, insects, and fungi. Tannin is what gives the redwoods their reddish color. And the majestic conifers grow in only two parts of the world: Northern California and China.

Perhaps the redwood forest’s survival of yet another ravaging fire is a message to the rest of us – with patience and endurance we can get a handle on Covid.

My images here are not of the redwoods (view link below), but of majestic local trees that serve as reminders of strength, beauty, and our world’s fragility.

Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives

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