It’s 80 degrees in the shade. The air feels like a hand dryer at a rest stop on the interstate minus the annoying hum. The dry scent of sagebrush and what I learn are Jeffery pine trees come in and out. Five seconds after taking a sip of water my mouth is bone dry, like when you’ve slept with it open for the last hour on a plane. Mocha runs by me in a cloud of silty gray dust, she still hasn’t caught that chipmunk.
I’m only 2 miles into my long run but I swear it’s been at least five and I have fourteen more miles to go. Some days feel like the first day back to running after a long hiatus which is not the case at all, in fact I’m running more now then ever. I’ve been half assedly trying to convince myself that heat is my friend but deep down I miss puffy jackets and boots. I better try harder.
Currently I’m near Kennedy Meadows, a popular stop along the Pacific Crest Trail due to its General Store. The porch bustles with people who I realize probably very closely resemble me, a little too tan, hair a little sun bleached and clothes slightly sweat stained. The building, having seen probably thousands of thruhikers in its day, has a bit of a lean to it and inside is complete with pot belly stove and various wares. As some of you know I have a thing for convience stores and this one is certainly unique. Stepping inside and being slightly blinded by the darkness, I don’t think there are lights inside, I almost bump into a line of hikers. Each buying candy, beer and granola bars and some picking up packages they mailed to themselves. The store also serves as the local watering hole, a handful of locals sit around a barrel serving as a table and I can only imagine they find amusement from people watching as none of them seems to really say much. I am here to find a map, snap some photos of it and am on my way.
There is no cell phone service here and probably not for at least 12 miles in any direction. There is however a pay phone. A what you say? A machine that takes only change and some how along metal wires transfers my voice to another destination, magic! Well not really magic, science. I am in the land of the sequoia, which oddly enough there are few of where I am, most of the evergreens are pines. All throughout the forest there are fallen soldiers, massive stumps and charred remnants. These giants lived to be hundreds of years old. I stop to count the rings on one such stump, I lost count but I wondered while literally looking at this trees heart what it lived through. Some rings narrow, some wide, some darker, some lighter; each recording the characteristics of that year. And it crossed my mind; could these rings carry sound like the wires of a telephone? Could they have recorded sounds like the tape of an answering machine? I know, “uhh Sarah, they aren’t electrical.” BUT they did once have electrical charges running through them just like our cells do now. So think about it, these sleeping giants may know more than we think.
Or I’ve been alone for far too long…
Check out this video of someone actually playing tree rings.
Plus a bonus poem;
The Sounds of Trees
By Robert Frost
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.