Monday, September 12, 2005



I come from a family with deep roots in the landscape of the Sierra Nevada and the central San Joaquin Valley. The roots are so deep that it shapes the landscape of my mind. My great-great grandfather settled in the 1850s in this region below what was to become Sequoia National Park. In May I returned to present my book to the Sequoia Riverlands Trust at their annual banquet. It was held in a small oak preserve about one-and-a-half miles from the old farmhouse where I grew up. As I walked through the magnificent old towering valley oaks and sycamores along the St. John's River where I used to go swimming I could feel my feet sink into the soil and toward the center of the Earth, toward the center of things. I exhaled as if I had held my breath forever and then begin to breathe deeply.

There are very few acres of this old forest left. It used to be over ten thousand acres spread around the delta of the Kaweah River. There used to be more of this forest across the highway along one of the sloughs, but the farmer who owned it went out one night with friends and some chainsaws to cut most of it down. He thought he was saving his land from the curse of ecology. He'll be dead some day, if he isn't already, and his legacy will be the dead landscape. It's better to leave a legacy of life. When we do these things we are actually taking the chainsaw to our own mind and to the minds of the rest of the community.

If I could, I would be the Johnny Appleseed of these great valley oaks. Johnny Acorn. I'd hope by planting them it would restore a bit of sanity to my home and leave a little legacy of life. This posting is a bit of an acorn.

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