A Christmas Gift

The redwood forest is a wondrous place, nearly unbelievable the first time you visit. We walked the loop trail at Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park (CA). http://www.redwoodhikes.com/RNP/LBJ.html   The path was wet from misty fog that drifted through the treetops. And what trees! They stood straight and tall,  thickly barked columns that disappeared upward into the canopy. Two other hikers came along the trail. I nodded greeting, the woman replied in a whisper, and that is how we conversed. No one spoke out loud. Instinctively we knew this was a holy place, a natural cathedral.

Walking among those trees and thinking about how old they are sparks the imagination. I was awed by the fact that when a giant tree was a sprout in the ground, Jesus of Nazareth was walking the earth on the other side of the planet. In real time he shared the Good News that is still changing the world with a ministry of healing, forgiveness, and love. That realization led to the writing of this story.

The book was a labor of love. I wrote it as a Christmas present. One holiday season my husband, Don, and I decided not to buy gifts. Instead we would make something for each other. So I sat down and wrote this story as a gift for my husband, Don, who loved the redwoods as much as I do.

We made the same camping trip to the Northern California Coast many times. We hiked the redwood trail first with our children, later with our grandchildren. We grew to respect the abundant life found there and resolved to help nurture and protect the forest.

I sketched plants and animals that we saw. For field sketching I used an HB pencil or drawing pen on standard drawing pad. Occasionally I used watercolor paper and applied a wash, then outlined with pen. I took color snapshots of the ferns, the gnarly burls, the cones, the understory, the lovely rhododendrons blooming. When it came time to render illustrations for the book, I had a lot to work from.

My favorite sketch I had to draw from memory. It happened one time as we were driving out of the park, I looked back to view the big creek alongside the road.  Through a break in the trees I caught a glimpse of an elk herd splashing across the creek, heads lifted, following their leader, a magnificent bull elk. There was no place for us to pull off, no camera at hand, no time to draw. It was a moment frozen in time. I never forgot that arresting scene and used it as an illustration in the story. You will find it on p. 22.

I love the redwoods—the giant trees, the lovely understory, fields of ferns, the wildflowers, carpets of greenery, occasional glimpses of animals, all the abundant life found there. But above all, I am moved by the sense of history, living history in the plant community where we can find the past, present, and even the future hope of the forest.

Some of those trees mark the story of the ages, when God’s Son was born on earth. They echo those teachings. They await the return of our Savior. Till then it’s a place of wonder, of awe, and great beauty. It is a showcase for the Creator’s handiwork, a labor of love.

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Have you been to the redwoods? If not, I hope it is on your bucket list. Find videos and information at Redwood National Park ( https://www.nps.gov/redw/index.htm )  Learn more at Save the Redwoods League. (http://Savetheredwoodsleague.org) .  
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