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I took this photo in 2004 in a forest of giant redwoods in northern California.  This was during a road trip my husband and I took to Mendocino - a small town on a cliff overlooking the Pacific - just before we began the huge transition from quiet life in Santa Ynez to, shall we say, a less-than-entirely-quiet-life in Santa Monica.  That trip was like so many of the holidays my husband and I take, where we throw our bags in our car and drive to a place where we can be in nature, hike for hours, read our books and enjoy delicious meals.  On my own, I tend towards the more unusual journeys and locales - Cuba, New Zealand, and, in just a few weeks, Jordan - but with my husband I meander towards quieter fare.  After contemplating for weeks about where we should go on our next vacation together - a discussion that included Italy, Sweden and walking across the U.K. along Hadrian's Wall - we finally decided to drive north again where our time will be split between Yosemite and Big Sur.

This will be my first time exploring Yosemite, but Big Sur is a place I have visited many times.  It is where I have headed in times of confusion to find some semblance of peace, and also where I go to sink deeper into my contentment, my joy, and my love of this awkward, beautiful, sometimes bumbling life of mine.  Even though a walk across the lush English countryside has now captured my imagination and my husband has not likely heard the last of my longing to experience that, I am happy that we chose to keep things easy this year.  No airport security lines, no 3 oz. bottles of liquids in ziploc baggies, no jet lag, no currency exchanges.  Just us, our hiking boots, a stack of books, our cameras, and a road map of California.

All this talk and we're not even going until May.

I imagine the tree pictured above is still exactly where it was when I took that photo.  We won't be walking through that forest on our trip this spring, but we will be walking amongst this tree's kin, along paths with ferns as far as the eye can see and trees so tall I almost fall over backwards looking up at them.  Did you know California has the tallest, biggest, and oldest living things on earth?  I am eager to be near them again, looking forward to that unique feeling of safety, hidden-ness, and solitude that only a forest provides.  This sense of security in the company of trees - under their canopy and surrounded by all the vegetation their shade encourages - goes all the way back to my childhood, when I played for hours on end in the woods near our homes, walking, digging, pretending, and exploring.  Wherever I am on earth, if I am in a forest, I am home.

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide