Thursday, May 31, 2007

Neighborhood Mystery # 3

Alice sometimes takes me on a long walk to the main Post Office downtown. A tree there is a bit mysterious. It's called a Dawn Redwood. It smells different from all other trees. Sounds different, too. A bit like the California redwood in my backyard, but the whole vibe of it is different. Softer needles. Alice says that's because it is not from here, but from China. It also turns brown every fall and drops its leaves which our redwood never does. The prime area of interest for us dogs - that sweet spot from ground level up to one or two feet is like nothing else. There are butresses on that tree! Lots of wonderful curves to save important dog p-mail. But... there's something about that tree.... something very special, dare I say "sacred"? I've sniffed it a lot but never left a personal liquid message.

That particular tree was planted from samples taken in 1948 from China. They grow so fast - even in standing water! - people are considering growing them for lumber and to reforest places where they used to grow. Alice saw some petrified wood from these trees at the Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. They used to grow there 55 million years ago, but now it's just eroded badlands, nopal cactus, and a few trees along the streams. Quiet. Very quiet there. Quiet too in the Scottish Highlands where Alice has seen hours and hours of hills from the train with stumps like that on poorly sodded soil. Quiet and sad. Waiting.

Maybe that's what makes it feel different from all other trees in my neighborhood. A sort of hushed feeling. Waiting patiently to come back to life all over the world in great numbers. Knowing it will happen one day. It knows how to wait. 55 million years of waiting.