October 26, 2023
By Dana Ngo, Ecological Advisor, Teravana
Rising from the dead, the descendants from the ancient Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) began their journey back to old places where they once stood tall. What was once a coastal habitat of giants, rainbow meadows, and small critters who peeked through the canopies and shrubs, became a rolling bed of seasonal plains in their absence. Hollowed remnants of their ancestors left scars perceived through the surrounding landscapes. Once permeable were the soils, rich with organic matter and teeming with life, now hardened to the history of repeated logging, ranching, and forgotten natural cycles.
If you listen well, you could hear the hungry creeks eating away at the barren soils and toppling more old friends. Spirits of many beings still haunt the area. Standing at the feet of the Austin Creek watershed, S. sempervirens shed a tear for their lost friends. Where have the beavers gone? Where are the salmon, the oaks, the bobcats, and the flowers?
Without the redwoods, the droplets of rain could not find their home for the season. Without the home, the raindrops ran straight into the creek valleys and cut away at the land. Without the fallen limbs and wise engineering of beaver neighbors, the water eroded deep pathways rapidly heading towards the ocean. Without the proper meandering channels, the fish also could not return to their spawning grounds. Without the salmon, the whales have gone hungry. And without the whales, the oceans would have an imbalanced sea surface microlayer and would not produce precipitation.
Fortunately for S. sempervirens, Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) joins in this journey to the West, in faith that their family’s survival will be met by the new weather patterns here. Maybe there will be enough water, and maybe the fires will greet us more gently this time. There is no guarantee, but hope has become the fuel for this migration. These two species quickly became friends, and are able to transform grief into hope. These megaflora now rest on the trust of a few earth tenders at Teravana and Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, who are taking on the roles of beavers and tree keepers.
The great fires of San Francisco caused a chain reaction of harvesting our tree friends to resurrect a new city. Little attention was given to the impacts on the grandchildren of Cazadero, also known as the Kashaya Pomo and Miwok territories. Gone were the vision quest regions where medicine for the soul grew abundantly to feed for centuries. In their place, grazing beasts took to the new grasslands, pulling away at the blades and unknowingly, causing the roots to become more shallow. There is a delicate balance between seasons, and satiation could be met with holistic grazing management and re-seeding native grasses and flowers—an endeavor taken on by members of this coastal region.
As new roots anchor into place, S. sempervirens and S. giganteum share the ancient tales of two regions, bringing together a new culture befitting of a new climate. The arrival of earth tenders has also given rise to new creek and land patterns, to be visible after the next rains. Collectively, we are all holding space to welcome friends, old and new, back to this region of Sonoma County, to participate in the restoration of the coastal forests and oak woodlands of northern California.
Join us on this journey of rebirth (by attending one of Teravana’s workshops and/or donating): https://teravana.org/canopy-of-giving/