11-15: I walk the trail out of the campground [on the Pacific coast now at Still Water Cove a hundred miles north of San Francisco] and can make a left when I reach the valley bottom and find myself in a small cove a quarter mile to the west. A right takes me along a creek into redwood forest and fern-covered slopes to the top. I always want to speak of the beauty of such places but realize there’s a quality that precedes and encompasses beauty—what I can only call presence. In this case it’s an especially powerful presence owing to its comprehensive and coherent unity, the creek running with water from recent rains and lined with great second growth redwood and fir and the ubiquitous fern. In one remarkable spot there’s what looks like the ancient stump of a truly giant redwood out of which a half dozen or more hundred-foot progeny reach skyward. Part of presence is autonomy: This is an area that takes care of itself, that knows what’s needed and what belongs and that restored itself after the logging from the 19th or early 20th century. With all of this, how can there not also be great beauty of the sort that stops me in my tracks when I enter the trail and then proceed slowly downward to the creek. If there were sun it would still be darkly shaded and with today’s heavy fog it feels somewhere between foreboding and enticingly mysterious in its green-gray obscurity. The kind of place that evokes meditation and gratitude.