From the time I was a child listening to my father talk about his Boy Scout experience living in California and camping in the giant Redwoods in northern California, I’ve always wanted to visit and experience the Redwood “giants” for myself.
The opportunity came this past February when two of my married children, Erwin and Dr Jaleena Jessop and their families, gave me a very nice birthday present – a trip to the Redwoods for me, my wife Leenie and our youngest son. Wow, what a treat!
So, about ten days ago we flew to northern California where we experienced the time of our lives. What made it even more special was discovering the forest with my children and the grandkids that accompanied us. We went jet boating, hiked and experienced nature at her best – with all the vitality of the young ones. It was a blast!
Being dwarfed by the mighty redwood giants is at once humbling and awe inspiring but also causes reflection on the depth and breadth of life. There are trees that climb 250 to 370 feet into the air with diameters of 10 to 25 feet. This can often make one feel pretty “puny”. It’s more amazing to consider that these incredible giants existed 100 million years ago – up until the last ice-age and covered a large portion of the globe! For example, well preserved fossilized stumps have been found in Colorado and elsewhere, 25 million years old and beyond. Following the ice age, they have survived principally in the narrow strip of the coast of California.
And yes, these gorgeous giants need a special habitat to survive. They need a lot of fog to water even the tips of the tallest leaves and branches. The absorb a lot of water via the air and soil. And, they release up to 500 gallons a day to create their own “fog” which in turn helps support the other plants of these forest which are also dependant on the humid condition. But most incredibly, even though they line a corridor heavy with seismic activity, strong winds, and lightening storms, many have lived beyond 2,000 years of age! In fact, their bark is actually somewhat fire resistant giving them an advantage over pines, spruces and other resin/sap containing trees. Initially, I assumed initially that the roots of these giants must extend pretty deep into the ground so I was surprised when I found out that they only reach down about eight feet!
So, how do they withstand wind and earthquakes with such height and incredible mass? They do so via a system that we can all learn from: First, their roots interlock with other redwoods over a large area to support one another. This incredible “team” design is complete with exemplary “flexibility” which enables these giants to support one another for many, even centuries. This type of support is referred to as a gargantuan trampoline. Flexibility with undaunted teamwork, teamwork with flexibility – what a marvelous lesson we humans can learn from! For those human teams who’ve become most accomplished in this regard, the result has been proven to be nothing less than awesome.
We have many opportunities in life. Some of the best opportunities to learn come from nature. The mighty redwoods remind me of the value of both teamwork and flexibility, outlining the benefits of mutual trust. Teamwork with appropriate flexibility, mixed with other quality core values, necessary skills, passions and the like, plus a noble goal and vision can become a very powerful driving force.