11-17: Yesterday Twig and I walked what’s called the Canyon Trail (at StillWater Cove) along the creek eastward to its terminus at private property. (The distinction between a canyon and a valley is, even in dictionaries, very loose, which allows plenty of room for privately tinged definitions. I tend to think of canyons as rougher kinds of land and generally larger or deeper than valleys, so Grand Canyon fits very well whereas Grand Valley wouldn’t do. Yosemite Valley could easily have been Yosemite Canyon owing to its depth and vertical walls, but its softness [smooth granite, abundance of tall trees] makes valley fitting; habituation to the name surely plays a part as well. As often with language, I also trust my senses, particularly ear and eye, and some “elongate depressions of the earth” just feel/look/sound like a canyon or valley. This “Canyon” feels far more like a valley to me, but in deference to tradition I will grudgingly accept canyon.) I estimate the vertical drop from rim to creek as close to 200’ and most of the redwood at 100’ or so tall; it’s also a rather narrow canyon although it opens some as it moves away from its mouth into the sea, its sides clothed in downed trees, bushes, a few lower story trees, and dense fern. Our first day here the atmosphere was thick fog but yesterday had turned to bright sun. In both cases it was dark with shade along the trail and throughout. As second growth the trees are about the same height with little to obstruct the view through the forest except boles as the canyon widens. Its feel is of both mystery and foreboding, and its aura dramatically beautiful—I cannot imagine any way the space of this place could be more so, nothing could embellish, no improvement possible. I imagine the land, the trees and the ferns, happy in their life here with much comingling of roots with each other and with fungi, moist even during dry times, soil rich with fallen matter and indigenous creatures of all sorts, mostly unseen. It’s quiet, no more sound than a couple of woodpeckers and creek gurgling as it flows toward reunion with ocean mother a half mile downstream. For a century or more the canyon seems to have been left undisturbed; I hope it remains that way for as long as it can be. Its happiness depends on it.
No, I have no problem calling it a happy landscape. I’ve been in unhappy ones and the difference is unmistakable.
Photo from Unsplash