A world of trees
Our bi-annual lunch date was well overdue. One thing and another just kept getting in the way of Bethany and I meeting at Café 50’s in Santa Monica. Even missed her 80th birthday party with friends. In August, we were finally face to face sharing delicious food and delightful conversation. That’s when Bethany planted a robust file in front of me filled with photos, poems, and articles about trees. You name it, she had it in there. What touched me the most as I went through it was her enthusiasm to share it with me. She knows my love for trees and while she also shares that passion, I felt the file was cultivated on my behalf as much as hers.
A few days after my visit with Bethany, imagine the joy I felt walking the Sequoia Trail at Heaps Peak Arboretum located in the San Bernardino Mountains near Lake Arrowhead. Nearly one mile long, the trail is an easy loop that descends gently and rises slowly. It’s part meditation, part educational, and sheer heaven to be amongst a dozen different kinds of trees in such a relatively compact area. Had no idea that I was in the presence of the largest grove of Sequoias in the San Bernardino Mountains. Thanks to the well-done, self-guided brochure, I learned plenty about trees as well as animal and plant life. It was like walking through Bethany’s file.
Do you know which pinecones are the heaviest in the world? Pinecones from the Coulter Pine can weigh up to eight pounds each. Incense Cedars have overlapping scales rather than needles and Native Americans use the cinnamon-red bark to make baskets. As you might guess from its name, the Arizona Cypress is not a native tree to this area. Its “closed cone” is sealed shut with resin preventing reseeding without heat. In a fire, the heat releases the seeds resulting in reseeding when the wind carries them elsewhere. Fire is also necessary for Sequoia seeds to germinate. Strange how something that seems so devastating can also play a positive role in repopulating some tree varieties.
As I sit here now thinking about Bethany’s tree file, I’m reflecting on her irresistible, one-of-a-kind nature. How many people do you know who read a mother’s hand-written account of her first birthday party in 1939 at the celebration of their 80th? And, from her baby book, no less! Well Bethany, here’s a one-of-a-kind gift for you—a very special column about trees with your name on it. Bet I know where you’ll file it!
Originally published, Orange County Register, September 12, 2019