“Look! We could put the kitchen table here—next to the fireplace! And there’s a room for my granddaughter behind those ferns!” Her blue eyes wide with excitement, she pointed and paced. All weekend, she’d chatted about her current favorite TV shows on the home and garden channel, and the grand Coastal Redwoods leapt forward as another fantasy real estate venture.
Besides creative space planning opportunities, a walk on the short, paved loop at Muir Woods just outside of San Francisco was truly a multi-purpose excursion:
“It’s good to spend time in nature,” my father-in-law matter-of-factly stated.
“Hmmph, no cell phone reception,” (that’s my husband, poking at his phone, then dejectedly slipping it back into his pocket.)
And me, “One more loop around and we’ll earn our scoop of ice cream!”
DIY-television references aside, it is good to spend time in nature. I’d play along. We ventured further into the park, the mythical trees shading the ground almost entirely. Clover was the groundcover—I couldn’t help searching for a 4-leaf sprig. Then straightening my neck, my eyes wandered up a massive redwood trunk to see an oak hugging its side, wrapping itself around the beast to soak up a bit of sunlight. I followed the ray back toward the ground to a green shoot that produced a bright orange bud, right in the spotlight.
We stood up tall, posing for photos in front of fallen branches, rings and loops showing hundreds of years of growth, of history. We leaned over bubbling streams searching for schools of wild salmon among the mossy rocks. In a particularly dense area of growth, we noticed a circle of trees—five younger with a wide, decrepit tree in the center, a family. I’d read about this. When a tree is under distress, its roots grow deep and strong to produce new shoots at its base. Eventually, the older tree is surrounded by small, supple growth, protecting it, forming a family of support—a neighborhood.
“What was your favorite tree today?” I asked my mother-in-law later over ice cream.
“Oh…” she licked her cone. “There were so many nice places…”