Old Growth: Towering Redwoods and the Family Tree

We depart sunny Miranda early on this July morning.  40 parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins squeezing into a parade of wagons, hybrids and SUVs.  As we enter the Avenue, a canopy slowly begins to grow over us.  The sunlight dims and our car instantly becomes neighbors with the towering trees hugging the road.  Past Rockefeller Grove, the Founder’s Tree, and the beauty of the Eel River, we travel deeper along route 254 into the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  One after another, the massive posts from times before swish by as we creep towards our destination.  The line of cars, carrying generations of family, pull off the highway and we spill out into the forest.


The Winifred Brown Bell Grove, along the Avenue of the Giants, is a turnoff like many others along the road.  Noted by the standard California State Park brown and gold lettered sign, we park and douse ourselves with bug spray to guard off the mosquitoes bound to exist along the way.  The 40 descendents of the Brown family gather for the required photo to document our journey to this magical space.  Children and dogs pose with anticipation, eager to scamper along the path, destination unknown and really unimportant.  It’s the journey amongst the trees that they look forward to.

As we move deeper into the grove, lush emerald green ferns replace the dirt corridor of the entrance.  Their verdant carpet encroaches on the foot space, cautioning us to tread lightly-poison oak adding another element of excitement.  The air cools, making me glad to have my warm sweatshirt.  We pause, photographing a huge tree or a massive, upturned root hosting a bevy of fern and new growth.  We caution the children again, hoping that they stay focused and on the path.  Stellar Jays announce their presence, golden butterflies dart through my line of sight.  The group spreads out, some going left on the longer loop, hoping to extend the sensory delight just a bit longer.  I can’t see my son or daughter, but I sense that they’re moving forward along the path.  Someone will be watching them.

I pause, absolutely mesmerized by the sight before me.  Where did this glory come from?  How could I not have known this existed?  How can this image remain untouched, unchanged, for centuries?  Such splendor, such lushness, such beauty, such…bigness.  Freedom.  Growth.  Awesomeness.  I am so undersized, honored to be in their presence.

I look up, and only a sliver of blue sky is visible between the towering trees.  I am small, almost insignificant in this landscape.  My children and husband catch up to me, and we pose amid the ferns, part of a larger family group yet perfectly isolated at this moment.  Like the seedlings that once began this landscape, I realize again that my offspring have immense potential.  Nothing limits them; nothing keeps them from achieving their dreams.  Their growth, nurtured by their guardian hosts, stretches before us, soaring with possibility.

What I learned at Winnie’s Grove is that growth happens.  Hosted and nurtured by our families, cautiously curious as we dash along the path of life, we all contribute to the development of our children.  Time inches along, slowly and subtly raising them to heights we may never know.   Hidden groves and untapped potential lie before them, their existence eager for exploration.

What I’m still learning is how to let go and let them wander among the giants.  They will turn left or right as they choose, hopefully remembering the path  leading back to their hosts, their strong family tree.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusYelp

Friday Photo – Paradise Found

Can you feel it?  Today’s Friday photo was taken on my recent  road trip family vacation.  As my son said, ‘This place is an 11 year old’s playground paradise!”  I have to agree on the paradise part-it was a lot of work to get there, but so worth it!  Can you guess where we were?
Sometimes as I’m moving around in my day, an image gets stuck in my head that I can’t shake. Sometimes it conjures up a memory, a feeling, or provides an impulse to do something. Often, though, I just see something that I want to capture in my mind for no particular reason-it just speaks to me. I’d like to offer these images up for ‘thought contributions’-as a way to generate a community of ideas together.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this ‘Paradise Found’ – leave me a comment!  Where is your ‘paradise’?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusYelp

Guest Posting Today: The Mommy MindSpa

Greetings from the Redwoods!
Today I will be guest posting on The Mommy MindSpa and sharing my ideas about road trips, family vacations and how to build in a Mom-ME Moment.  Please visit The Mommy MindSpa to read my latest!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusYelp

Friday Photo – Big Trees

Sometimes as I’m moving around in my day, an image gets stuck in my head that I can’t shake.  Sometimes it conjures up a memory, a feeling, or provides an impulse to do something.  Often, though, I just see something that I want to capture in my mind for no particular reason-it just speaks to me.  I’d like to offer these images up for ‘thought contributions’-as a way to generate a community of ideas together. 

Here’s my second ‘Friday Photo’.  It was taken a few hours ago as I hiked among some of the biggest and oldest trees I’ve ever seen.  They inspired me to use this photo today to generate thoughts…what does it make you think of?

Please share your stories, memories, or just what comes to mind when you look at it.  I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusYelp

The Eyes Tell The Stories

The Eyes Tell The Story

The eyes stare at me from the photograph, beckoning me to explore.  I turn it over, determined to learn more.  If I’m lucky, I find a name or date to lead me to the story.  If I’m really lucky, I get more-a narrative, a nugget of information, a description of the subject’s outfit.  Regardless, I file the image and search for more clues.

This summer my husband and I are spending hours digging into our family histories.  After inheriting 27 boxes of loose photos, albums, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, letters, and assorted memorabilia, we are determined to put it in order and discover the untold stories, hoping to add to a long legacy left in our hands.

We start by searching for names and likenesses.  Two generations back-no problem.  We remember the Christmas celebrations, the Easter egg hunts and hilarious outfits of the sixties and seventies.  Recaptured vacations to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite amuse us.  We still visit the same houses and sit on the furniture, eat at the tables and sleep in the guest rooms.  Letters to our grandparents, thanking them, are sprinkled amongst the images.

Three generations back-yes, we knew some of them.  Distant memories from our childhoods stream through our minds like an old filmstrip in elementary school.  The cracks and blurriness only delete fragments, allowing the stories to flow in bits and pieces.  The old Model T and beach cottage.  The Oakland homestead, now a shopping center.  The softness of her lap, and the heartiness of his laugh.  The eyes of those who died before our birth, only remembered through those that they left.  Skiing, really?  Yosemite Falls looked the same then.  Letters from the war are tucked in between.

Digging deeper-four generations.  The path sometimes stops abruptly-a widow?  An immigration, or perhaps one shunned by their family?  The photos are black and white now, the images lacking much detail or expression.  The dress is formal, the postures upright.  The proud automobile owners pose with smiling eyes.  The doll house stands in front of the Christmas tree, ready to be treasured.  The newspaper clippings tell us of his college athletic statistics, proudly preserved by a mother.  Letters explaining the death of a loved one, far away, gather in a box.

On and on the stories go, some now limited to names and dates we eagerly find and place on our pedigree.  Bits of stories gleaned from documents and treasures fill in some gaps, and create new tales in branches otherwise unknown.  A sea captain, a wagon train, a sea voyage, a football escapade.  Immigrants from Canada, Scotland, Germany, England, and those who have been right here, in America, since the beginning, come to life. 

As we sort and search their eyes bore into my mind, driving me to open the next box, read the next letter, search for the next clue to our history.  What I’ve learned is that their eyes stare from the same places, although time separates us.  These people celebrated the same way, valued the same possessions, and wanted to share the same stories that we do.

What I’m still learning are their stories.  I smile as I think of all that I have yet to discover within these boxes, and open another.  Another set of eyes gazes at me.

Will we ever learn them all?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusYelp