return to the redwoods – part 1   14 comments

Posted at 11:43 am in california,memory,rivers,trees

After quite some absence, I’m back – writing, that is. It seems that I want to mull over things for awhile before putting together words to describe what I’ve seen or felt. Meanwhile, life goes on here in southeast Arizona, where I’ve chosen to spend this winter. I may jump ahead and write about some of that soon — there’s no real need to be concerned about chronology as this isn’t so much an account of a trip that runs from point A to point B, but of a different kind of journey that exists outside of time and place.

In the last post I wrote about spending two or so weeks along some favourite rivers in Oregon. From there, I had hoped to move on down to the northern California coast for a few days before continuing on to Arizona. However, the weather turned bad, resulting in some changes to my plans. Still, I did return to some of the places where Don and I had camped, hiked, or visited while in Oregon and California in autumn 2006. One of my first stops was at a wayside trail where California Pitcher Plants (Darlingtonia californica) grow, and which I had taken Don to see on our way down to California. I’ve been to this site several times over the years, so there are many memories attached to this place. The plants, also commonly known as Cobra Lilies grow in a swarm that always makes me think of a densely-packed flock of geese.

In one of those quirky moments that you gradually must become accustomed to, I could almost see, or at least imagine, Don leaning on the railing of one of the viewing platforms as he surveyed the flock of plants. The light and air temperature were similar, so it was easy to imagine this moment not far removed from another two years before. This was to happen countless times as I traveled through Oregon, Calfornia and Arizona. But then, that was part of the purpose for this journey – to reconnect with the “better memories” from before illness invaded our lives. Sabrina hadn’t been along with us on that trip, so I took time to explain the significance of these places in our personal mythologies.

From the Pitcher Plants, we continued down along the Smith River to camp at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. On our last trip together, Don had chosen a campsite next to a redwood tree as he had never seen one until that day. This time, I chose a site just below the previous one, along the shore where I could hear the river. Occasionally, a drift boat would pass by, but otherwise, all was quiet and peaceful.

We arrived fairly late in the afternoon, so I ended up cooking our dinner in the dark. One thing I soon discovered was that it takes a bit longer to get things together when you’re traveling alone with your dog. In the past, one of us would have taken Sabrina for a walk, then helped to get things unpacked and set up. Alone, everything took that much longer, but eventually, dinner was made and Sabrina was settled down on a piece of carpet next to my camp chair. We sat next to our fire, listening to the crackling flames and the flow of the nearby river until late into the night. I’ve spent enough time next to rivers to know that each place has its own sound, and that of the Smith is etched into my mind, alongside those of so many others…

Written by bev on December 20th, 2008

14 Responses to 'return to the redwoods – part 1'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. “I’ve spent enough time next to rivers to know that each place has its own sound, and that of the Smith is etched into my mind…”

    Rivers show us their etchings.


    The Smith is like a Continent, in 90 miles.

    Or layers of worlds.

    Or lifetimes.

    This special water merges, and emerges in the sea…
    What ever that means.

    It is lucky water to have been The Smith.

    Tussock Mirth

    20 Dec 08 at 12:56 pm

  2. Whenever we traveled around southern Oregon and northern California, we always made a point to stop at the Smith River, just to have a good look and listen. It is one of the prettiest spots on earth.

    Seeing Don leaning over that railing, taking in the Cobra Lillies is a lovely sight. Remembering the very good days is a very good way to remember.

    robin andrea

    20 Dec 08 at 4:22 pm

  3. “. . . a different kind of journey that exists outside of time and place.”

    The redwood trees near the Smith River got to see Don on that day.

    Thanks for posting these photos and writing again, bev.


    21 Dec 08 at 6:48 pm

  4. Lovely words, photos and memories. I’ve always wondered what Darlingtonia looked like in its native habitat. It’s stunning.


    22 Dec 08 at 1:38 pm

  5. Tussock Mirth – Yes, true, it is lucky water to have been the Smith, and lucky we have been to spend time in or beside those waters.

    robin – I very much agree — along the Smith is among the most beautiful places I’ve been.

    am – The redwood trees near the Smith River got to see Don on that day. That’s a lovely way to think of things, am.

    Doug – The Darlingtonia are incredible to see in this spot. If you’re ever along the stretch of highway along the Smith River, do take the time to stop.


    22 Dec 08 at 6:43 pm

  6. Bev–
    I wish you joy this day–in remembrances and dreams.
    Merry Christmas.


    25 Dec 08 at 9:02 am

  7. I’ve seen plants like those. It never occurred to me, but they do look kind of like a flock of geese.


    26 Dec 08 at 9:39 pm

  8. Good to be there with you Bev, and I loved the image of Don leaning over the railing in his thoughtful and very focused way. The Cobra Lily colonies do look like flocks of geese.

    …. it is raining here in the Ottawa valley at present and very very icy.


    28 Dec 08 at 12:14 am

  9. That was a wonderful post. Looking forward to more in the New Year!


    1 Jan 09 at 11:29 am

  10. So good to read your words again – love the photo of Don and those exquisite plants.. what a beautiful place with so many poignant and treasured memories..
    please call soon, much easier than typing. (plus I miss your voice!)
    Wishing you all the joy your heart can hold for the new year and beyond..


    1 Jan 09 at 11:12 pm

  11. Your posts are always deeply touching to me. I hope that you might one day write a book about this journey.

    Travel safe!


    4 Jan 09 at 11:45 pm

  12. I know exactly what you mean when you say he is there with you … on my parallel journey Chris is there in so many places.

    I hope that your trip brings you healing and peace.

    Bring some warmth back with you please!


    6 Jan 09 at 10:08 am

  13. Nina – thanks for the well wishes. Best to you in the coming year.

    Mark – The masses of them seem sentient to me. I can almost hear them honking!

    Cate – I keep hearing weather updates from back home in the valley. It does make me very glad that I chose to winter in the south.

    Dave – Thanks for the very kind comment! (-:

    Cindy – Yes, so many incredible memories from our travels. I will try to give you a call very soon. Take care and be well.

    PhantomMidge – Lately i’ve been thinking that it might be interesting to create some form of book out of these posts and photos — perhaps an eBook would be most practical. In some way, perhaps it would be helpful to others.

    Shelley – Yes, I’m sure you are thinking and experiencing many of the same things. I wish I could bottle up some of this warm, dry desert air to send to you. Take care.


    6 Jan 09 at 10:02 pm

  14. Don’t recall finding your blog, before, but may have commented once and forgot.

    But I don’t remember seeing the Darlingtonia photo.

    Nice that you started a redwood forest blog entry with Cobra Lily. So many California redwood photo collections focus solely on the trees. And with the Cobra Lily bog so close to Jedediah Smith redwoods, more folks should know about that botanical wayside.

    I included the lilies too, from my page:

    Off the top of my head I’m not sure – but may have even added a short video clip too.

    The area around that one north park alone is worth days if not a week of redwood adventure.



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.