A vision that stays

Another unsuccessful attempt to capture the indescribable: Muir Woods, May 2003

Another unsuccessful attempt to capture the indescribable: Muir Woods, May 2003

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always.  No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree.  The feeling they produce is not transferable.  From them comes silence and awe…they are ambassadors from another time.”John Steinbeck

It really is impossible to capture a forest of redwoods in a photograph, and not just because they are far too tall for even the widest angle.  Walking through a redwood grove is a multi-sensory experience that permeates the soul.  As many times as I visited Muir Woods, I never felt ready to leave.  I always left later than I intended to, promising myself another visit as soon as I could get back.  Now that I live on the east coast, I can only visit in my memory, but Steinbeck is right: the vision stays.

What are some of the places you carry inside your heart?


  1. Eric

    “No, Lennie,” grinned George, “you don’t climb Redwood trees, you just have to stand on the ground, and look up at them, and take in a big deep breath.”

    • This movie, directed and produced by then-little-known Gary Sinise, is when he became my favorite actor, and has remained so to this day. Sinise was at Walter Reed giving a free concert the day after Jeff’s surgery. His support for the troops has been unwavering. Thanks for the quote from Steinbeck’s masterpiece, which was captured flawlessly in the movie linked above.

  2. “Walking through a redwood grove is a multi-sensory experience that permeates the soul. ”

    you nailed it with eloquence!

    • Thanks Z, I tend to think that the experience is impossible to capture with words, just as it cannot be captured by photos. Somewhere inside me the image lives on, nature’s cathedral in my mind where I run to when stressed or in despair. Thanks for being here!

      • there’s an old song by Queensryche that says, “Hush now don’t you cry…wipe away the teardrop from your eye…” then ‘…there’s a place i like to hide.. a doorway that i run through in the night..’

        the first time i heard that first part, i cried. it was a difficult time in my life when that song was popular…

        • I’m so grateful to have such places to hide, even if only in our minds. Isn’t it amazing how music can bring back emotions from years and years ago?

  3. Mike Bertoglio

    Steinbeck always a wonderful writer– ” a feeling that is non transferable.” Been there one time. Olympic rain forest in NW Washington state- also pretty awesome and leaves you awestruck , not unlike St. John the Divine cathedral. Cathedral in the Pines.

    • Mike, “cathedral” is exactly the word that always came to my mind when I went to Muir Woods – in fact, one section of it is called “cathedral grove.” I hope I will someday be able to visit the forests of Washington state. I think of them as being so deep and magnificent that they would dwarf Muir Woods. We did take the Coast Starlight from Santa Barbara to Vancouver Washington, and saw some amazing sights. We had to get off the train in the middle of the night in Klamath Falls, OR because a train ahead of us had de-railed, so it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped it would be, because we were in a bus the remainder of the way; some said that the train tracks went through much more stunning scenery than the highway. But it was still impressive.

  4. Mike Bertoglio

    Also one of my favorite books and the movie with Sinise and John Malkovich? if I remember correctly.

    • Yes, the clip I linked in the comment to Eric was from that movie. I still think it’s the best translation to screen of any book I have ever read and seen later in movie form. Perhaps because the book is so short it’s more easily adapted to screen, but I still think Sinise was a genius (and a very young one) in both his performance and direction. Malkovich was born to play that role. Ray Walston was also perfect. A brilliant film.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, I look forward to seeing this movie, as the trailer leaves me wanting more. The awesome redwoods have been featured in National Geographic recently and I always love those articles. A fold out poster several years ago featured 80+ images to capture the whole tree.Quite impressive! Thinking of y’all, Sheila

    • Sheila, it’s definitely a great movie, but I must warn you that it is VERY hard to take if you love happy endings. I think a lot of people would describe it as depressing. I see it as far more realistic than most people would be willing to admit, and of course I have my own reasons for thinking so. What makes it beautiful is the love that runs through what is otherwise a very tragic story. Save it for some time when you are feeling cheery and don’t need anything funny or perky! WOW that NG story sounds as if it might have come close to doing justice to these amazing trees, although I’m sure nothing can capture the richly scented air, especially just after it rains. Thanks for your thoughts, and for being here!

  6. MaryAnn

    Yosemite National Park WITH the large group of Christians, known as Yosemite Family Encampment, will always live in my heart! The surrounding beauty, the love shared, living as close to Heaven on Earth as possible is how I remember those years.
    Aaric, our youngest grandson, & I spent almost the entire day at Muir Woods during Spring Break. It was wonderful weather for being in the redwoods: slight, intermittent drizzle; with occasional bursts of sunshine. We walked & talked & enjoyed being together in God’s Showcase. We were “waiting” for a tour to begin, when Aaric saw a sign stating “Ocean view”. Since I am always drawn to the ocean, we headed out. Three hours later, after a marvelous hike, we read the rest of the sign. It seems we did a 4 hour hike in much less time! We were so glad we had not read all the “instructions” beforehand, as we may have chickened out. haha!
    I really appreciate how you guide my mind to the joy of life!~~~
    I love you,

    • Mary Ann, I am not completely sure, but I don’t think I ever made that long 4-mile trek. It seems like I was always too pressed for time while I was there – usually had to be back in Vacaville by 3 pm to meet Matt’s bus, and just couldn’t risk it. Maybe you and I take that hike together someday! It will give us an incentive to stay in shape :-). I love you too!


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