At the end of the forested canyon where I live is a footpath that follows a cascading stream up a flank of the mountain to a ridge that looks down on a valley of old-growth redwoods known as Muir Woods National Monument. Beyond that is the Pacific Ocean.
When the largest of the trees in Muir Woods were young, one third of the population of Europe and the Middle East were dying from the Black Plague, and suffering greatly from social and religious hysteria. Their economies and governments were in turmoil; corruption and depravity were rampant. Recovery from these traumas was doubtful.
Across the Pacific at the time they were seedlings, gunpowder had been in use for as long as they have now lived. The loudest noise that reverberated through the valley, though, would have been the rare thunder or perhaps drums of the Miwok Indians.
Just before dark on New Year’s Day 2003, I walked through the monument with visiting friends who were startled by the copper silver flashes of salmon and trout splashing their way through the rippled spawning redds in muted spotlights of dusk. They were surprised Coho and Steelhead still returned from feeding in the Pacific to this creek where they were born.
Watching the ocean fog sail overhead this morning, I ponder thoughts of recovery and return and what they hold in store for the seedlings I see walking through time.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here