After months and months of living here on the Oregon coast, I finally am getting the opportunity to meet my neighbors. I am very pleased to introduce you to one of my favorites…
I have been so amazed to discover that there is a 900 year old cedar tree just a few blocks from where I live. It is hidden back in on a large piece of land that was set aside to become a city park when the town was laid out back in the 1890’s. It is a park that was planned for, but never was developed by the community where I live. So, this area has sat untouched by humans basically since then and it is now a full on, thickly forested wild spot smack dab in the middle of a tiny beach community that nestles on the little the bit land found between the mountains and the pacific ocean.
This particular bit of land is surrounded by human development on three sides, but backs up on the east side right into the foothills of the Northern Coastal Mountain Range of the Tillamook Forest found behind our homes. This is just one part of a larger forest system which stretches from the west coast of Oregon unbroken clear up into Canada/Alaska and down into California. It is forest that is so dense that it is hard to navigate through at all.
Even though it could attract more tourist $$$ by becoming a unique stopping destination, the town, in it’s wisdom, has quietly just let the land and this tree do their thing without advertising it’s presence (with too many feet visiting, this would compact the soil and the tree would most likely die sooner). So, the only way to even know this tree is there is if a local finds you worthy enough to share the secret information that it is present, and then physically takes you to point out the location of the start of the trail to get in to see it. The little path off the street is completely unmarked and basically is impossible to see.
Earlier in the summer N & I finally reached enough local status to be deemed worthy of being told about the tree and were shown it’s location by a delightful human neighbor. It is SPECTACULAR. You step off of a perfectly normal “urban” city street into a dense coastal forest within only a few feet. If you turn around and look back after just a few steps in, the town completely disappears as if it were never there.
On my first visit to this tree I experienced what I can only describe as a distinct feeling that the tree and the forest absolutely knew that I was there. This little patch of nature is surrounded on three sides by lots of human activity so I think it is wild land specifically attuned to the presence of humans in a special way due to such close proximity of their homes. I felt a sense of great love and support coming from the land, and particularly this tree, as soon as my feet stood on that ground.
As I moved deeper into the forest and close by the tree, my eyes spontaneously welled up as a result of hitting a wave of great, overwhelming joy. It was like being welcomed by an embrace into the presence of a comfortable, unflappable, wise old friend. It was a delicious feeling.
Think that sounds crazy?!? Well, WELL worth watching the following:
It turns out that this experience may not be as new age woo woo sounding as it may initially seem. It it is very possible that I was unconsciously smelling, and then consciously feeling, the meaning of an ancient scent of chemical communication of “welcome” that the forest puts out when we are aware. Could it be that the forest and this tree could “smell” in return the current emotional/chemical make up of a human being (me), one who in that moment was experiencing deep admiration and sacredness in a reverent approach into this special wilderness surrounded by human life? (Separation that melted away in chemical communication).
Does the state of aware presence in love in human beings have a detectable smell?!? We often talk about “the smell of fear” now don’t we.
Interesting to think about.
At any rate, I feel so blessed to live so close to such a magic and holy spot.
I am just in the process of getting together a traveling tea set and in the near future I am absolutely looking forward to taking a picnic in and having tea with this special tree. It is a Native American tradition to toast and always spill a little of ones drink first on the ground as a share in gratitude to and with the earth that is our very home. I think that hiking in with a little pot of Townshend Tea to share in the flavor of say, Forest Park, will just do the trick.
I love the fact that when humans and trees communicate and collaborate, such beauty can be smelt, felt and heard when human hands touch wood with love.