By Tommy Hough
No phone. No TV. Not quite knowing what day it is. Classic cabins with stained, knotted-wood walls and quaint, humble furnishings. No phone. No TV.
Standing on the banks of the San Lorenzo River in the Santa Cruz Mountains, under the gaze of giant Redwoods and a canopy of stars, my breath hanging in the air of the cool, early morning as the mildest of early spring chills works on the tip of my nose and edges of my ears.
A dog barks far across the river as a skunk quietly works its way along the edges of the lawn. The river never stops, never lets up, never slows – it only flows, swollen with the beginning of the spring runoff. Dry or damp, it will be here long after we are gone.
As for the Redwoods, they do not age so much as keep growing. Other than man, they have no natural enemies. Nearly impervious to rot, they grow to massive heights and widths – when given a chance to do so. Their presence is an indicator of abundant life, health, hydration, sun, warmth and cool. Like the ferns lining the river, they are some of the oldest species and oldest living things on earth.
Redwoods don't die of old age. They are felled by storms, humans and sometimes by fire, but have been elegantly designed to withstand and survive numerous burns. They are North America's greatest examples of millenia-length longevity. The nobility of trees persists, however often we may compromise their pride with ornaments, signs and abuse.
Spending time with loved ones amidst friendly faces and happy people. Big, hearty laughs. Feeling the health of clean air, limitless trails and standing atop mountaintop sandhills. Sunshine, rain, cycles of life, cycles of earth. Balance. The green of spring. Big trees and big streams. To borrow a phrase from Warren Zevon, "a quiet, normal life."
Warren loved fishing in New Zealand (been there, wonderful place). I generally feel at home at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, but I'll take the solace among the rolling hills, oaks, big trees, spring wildflowers, unnamed canyons and drainages of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties too.
Tommy Hough is a San Diego broadcast personality, wilderness and parks advocate, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action. He was a candidate for San Diego City Council in the 2018 election cycle.