Redwoods, a lament

by | Aug 23, 2020 | Musings, Poetry | 0 comments

We are all on edge in Sonoma County and other California locales contending with raging wildfires amid COVID-19. The news this week that Big Basin, California’s first state park, was consumed by flames hit me hard. It was the first place my husband, Jim, and I took our daughter camping.

What a time of bliss it was to look up, up toward the tops of ancient trees, to sit around a campfire while raccoons peered from behind bushes, waiting for us to turn in so they could see what we might have left behind, to read about the park’s history at the visitor’s center while friendly staff answered all our questions.

Then I heard that flames invaded parts of Armstrong Woods, a gorgeous redwood preserve closer to where we now reside. We don’t know what will survive once the flames are brought under control or what will be renewed in coming years. Right now, we don’t even know which ways the fires will spread today or what the effects of dry lightning predicted for the next couple of days will be. I was sorting through papers, deciding what to pack up in case we are ordered to evacuate when “Greenfields,” a lament from the Sixties came to mind. I came up with new lyrics expressing my sorrow about the fate of the redwoods.

By Laura McHale Holland

Once there were redwoods kissed by the sun
Once there were rivers where salmon used to run
Once there were rain clouds aplenty high above
Once we were living beside the woods we love
Where are the forests that we used to roam?

Redwoods are gone now, scorched in the sun
Gone are the rivers where salmon used to run
Gone with the hot flames that tore into these parts
Gone with the families that fled with broken hearts
Where are the forests that we used to roam?

I’ll never know what made us look away
How can we do nothing when red clouds mar the day?
I only know we’re choked by tragedy
Sleepless and lamenting all who have to flee

Still, we are hoping that we can end the burn
Still, we are searching for what we have to learn
We can’t be happy upended on the roam
We can’t be happy until we save our home
Home by the forests that we used to roam

I will appreciate your comments. Be safe.

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