I am impressed and amazed by the Sequoia tree(s) in California. When I visited recently, I learned several interesting facts. Sequoias are one of the oldest living organisms on the planet – they can reach ages of 3000 years or more. However, one of the most mind boggling tidbits was that they rarely ever die of old age. They have such pungent chemicals in their thick bark that bugs and fungi cannot kill them easily and their bark is so thick that fires have to be extremely hot and huge to do them in. More likely, what happens is a fire clears the rest of the underbrush and other smaller trees leading to soil erosion. Then if there is a rainy spring or fall, the Sequoia might topple due to the lack of top soil depth. Is that not fascinating?
When I told my Tibetan friend about this piece of info, he was shocked because according to Buddhist theory (some of which are actually more like universal cosmic reality), everything that is born eventually dies – that is of natural causes. He found it strange that Sequoias might not die from natural causes – rather outside factors must be involved to kill them. Although I guess growing to be so big (more than 2 millions pounds of tree and roots) that you cannot stay standing in a powerful winter storm or with flood waters running past you might count as natural causes… Not sure.
Due to those powerful chemicals in the wood of Sequoias, it takes years (I mean centuries) for their dead wood to decompose. There are still trees on the ground from when they were felled back in the 1890s and they have not changed very much. Plus, when the lumberjacks were sawing down one particular tree, they made large piles of Sequoia saw dust (in 1890 something). And today, these piles are saw dust can still be seen. Whoa! Also, back when sawing down trees was completely manual, it took two men 13 days to saw down a Sequoia. Goodness gracious they are large.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed my trip to California (see previous posts about the Land of the Medicine Buddha retreat center and other posts about my time in King’s Canyon Nat’l Park).