By Tommy Hough
No phone, no telelvision, 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, breath hanging in the air of the cool, early morning as the mildest of early spring chills works 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 flows in increasing volume, slowly becoming more and more swollen with 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 they simply continue to grow. 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 humans may compromise their pride with ornaments, signs, and terrible abuse.
Spending time with my extended family amidst friendly faces and big, hearty laughs. The clean air, limitless trails, standing atop mountaintop sandhills bathed in sunshine, or the quiet patter of rain on the roof. 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."
A former San Diego broadcaster and media personality, Tommy Hough is a wilderness and conservation advocate, communications professional, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.