I… I… I (gulp) I Raised My Hand…

August 4th, 2008

On our last full day in San Fran….cisco… we drove out to Marin County.  Or primary destination was Muir Woods to see a forest of coastal redwoods and we were not disappointed.  Even though I now realize that the colossal redwood trees in Muir Woods are only tiny wobbly suckling infants compared to the trees in Humboldt Park and in a few other areas along the California coast, we were mightily impressed with the grandeur of these baby giants.   

Our boys were restless on the comfortable wide gravel path that the park is slowly changing to a wooden board walk to keep the visitors from constantly trampling the shallow roots of these ancient wonders.  As we discovered earlier on this vacation, our sons seem to settle down when they are pushing their bodies hard.  They love to run and to jump and to throttle each other mercilessly and this is much easier to do away from the throngs of people on the main path.  So we took our family off road and they all dug into the calf crushing climb to the top of the park as they got down to the serious business of bloody boyhood.

And yes, even though they are much calmer when they are in full exertion, I still had a hard time suppressing thoughts of just wandering back to the car and leaving them all there… in the backwoods… of California.  But I controlled that impulse.. barely… even though ultimately I think it might have been the best decision I could have ever made for everyone in my family.  Seriously! I am not even kidding. 

The Country Doctor is very fond of relating the time honored tale of eleven year old William Clark ( of Lewis and Clark) hiking to his grandmother’s every summer ALONE across 300 miles of the Appalachian Mountains. Imagine the educational opportunities that would abound for our kids if we did abandon them in the wilderness!   They would learn to survive…  and to make things… and to forage… and to subsist… and maybe even to work together!   In the end, don’t you think it is possible we would be doing them a huge favor?
Yes – the blog.  Okay back from my private little fantasy of wood worn children that do not suffer the taint of modern American boyhood.
Muir woods is awesome and also where I bought the book that is in the giveaway that is going on one post down.  
Right before we set off on our hike, we listened to a lecture in the park given by a passionate gentlemen who talked about the forest as if it were a sentient being and spoke of the connectedness of all things natural and how we are rapidly destroying the balance.  He was a very good speaker and he got choked up a few times as he spoke about his love of the woods and how they are going to disappear if things don’t change.  At the end of his talk he said there was a way to stop it.  A way to stop the destruction of the natural beauty of this planet.  He said that we could stop it.  Then he asked if there was anyone in the small group of listeners who would be willing to consume ten percent less than they are presently consuming.  Just ten percent.  Who would be willing?
I kept my hand firmly to my side.
He asked again – who would be willing to just buy ten percent less.  If we all bought just a little less, the companies would eventually make less stuff and fewer resources would get used up and less pollution would occur and the entire planet would rejoice.

I looked up at the huge old trees.  I looked at my young sons.  I thought about this old world and all it has seen and all it has weathered.  I wondered how much more it could take.  I wondered how much impact man really has.  I mean man wasn’t around to cause the first ice age or the um… other um… natural catastrophic things that have taken place on this planet thousands of years ago.   Honestly in the scope of all time and space is the work of man really so impressive to actually destroy an entire planet?  

But then I thought about how much we have destroyed already just in the past hundred years. How we managed to destroy almost all the coastal redwoods in the entire world except for a few that were just too dang hard to get to.  But guess what?  They aren’t that hard to get to anymore.  We have machines that can bust through anything.  Technology has made it possible to get to parts of nature that were previously safely out of reach.
I breathed in the spicy scent of the bay laurel and the fragrant humidity of the coastal redwoods that used to cover the entire world and now are only a tiny rag tag army of mighty towers pointing to heaven and creating an entire world in their upper branches that is only beginning to be understood.  
And I raised my hand.
I r

aised my hand.

I said I would consume ten percent less.
And I am going to try and keep my word.
It is a small thing for such an ancient glory. 
For something that has survived for 2000 years and maybe as long as 4000 years.  I can do with a little less.  
For the sake of this old world… I can.
I think I can…


  • Lyn M. Tucson AZ:

    I find it kind of eerie when I left a comment last night about the California Redwoods (being my favorite tree) .. and asking if you had visited them.. and today I find out that you had!

  • Patty:

    Don’t you just love them rowdy boys. I had one of each but my daughter was a tomboy. And you know if you have one of them critters they bring in a least a half dozen more. They use to help bring in the groceries so they could eat. A whole huge bag of pistachios once disapeared in ten minutes. Didn’t even get out of the grocery bag. Any way behind our house used to be all woods and thank goodness the children got to enjoy them before they were gone and honey they were gone overnight. New subdivisions. I won’t tell the names by husband called the man who built directly behind our house for building so close. But the children had their club houses there. My son and his rotten little boy friends delighted in finding turtle carcasses to frighten the neighborhood girls. We fed deer amd ground hogs. Then by the time the kids were over their twenty year mark those beautiful woods were gone. Love and hugs, Patty

  • Connie K:

    Yay for you Rechelle! I’m so glad you went to see the Muir Woods. I used to live right by there and back then, it was mostly countryside. Now when I look on Google earth, its surrounded by houses….how sad…I hope I win the book from Muir Woods, they didn’t have them when I used to visit over 40 yrs. ago. I can still smell the forest….love that smell. Thanks for the pics.

  • Lucy:

    Those beautiful redwoods have that kind of effect on a person. I moved there in 1970 and fell under their spell. I completly changed my life then and although I am more of a consumer now I still remember to conserve. I am proud of youlucy

  • Christina:

    Hey. I recently found your blog and have been following your trip in SF (I just moved away from there, oh my aching broken heart). But I felt the urge to comment about your thoughts about consuming less, or at least doing your best to keep priceless jems like Muir Woods safe for your kids kids. I find the possibility that my children (still unborn but I think about them) won’t see the endless smokey green mountains of northern California just heartbreaking, because so much beauty and peace comes from them. So thanks for this post (on behlf of my kids).

  • StitchinByTheLake:

    Hi Rechelle, Your pictures are beautiful – just as I remember California forests. I applaud your decision to try to consume less. Have you been to this blog http://www.greenbarbara.com? This is a woman who pledged January 1 to stop shopping for herself for one year. Not groceries and stuff like that, but for herself. She has some interesting things to say. Blessings, marlene

  • LAW:

    Rechelle, I am destined for your used book giveaway after seeing today’s post. I know it! I asked you yesterday if you had visited Muir Woods while in the S.F. area, and you said you bought The Wild Trees in the gift shop there. Well, my story (and I’ll try to keep it short because, after all, it’s not about me): Back in May my family and I took a Muir Woods tour van to the site. I really dislike tours because the schedule is so confining—and this was no exception. Instead of staying on the boardwalk, our family went up the path into the hills. We kept climbing and climbing and climbing—we hadn’t seen anyone else for over 45 minutes—until we came to a sign that proclaimed that we were on, I kid you not, the “Lost Trail.” Checking the time, we noticed we had only 10 minutes before our tour van was supposed to leave. We took off running hoping we were going the right direction. Twenty minutes later we made it back to the boardwalk, our tour van, and the glowers of our tour mates (which were nothing like the glowers we got once our sweaty bodies were enclosed in the tour van for the return trip). So, here’s the short story part, we didn’t even get a chance to visit the gift shop! Yes indeedy, the book and I are destined for each other.BTW, lovely pictures of the family. Thanks for raising your hand!

  • pedalpower:

    Sounds like a wonderful vacation. And good for you….10% less could really make a difference. Hubby and I are not back to the earth hippies, but in our world of everyone keeping up with everyone else, we are radical “not keeping up with the Jones-ers.” It’s amazing how much stuff we all buy and then throw away….

  • Pearl:

    Every summer my mom and I would travel from Southern Calif up to visit her family in Spokane. My favorite parts of the trip were through the Redwoods. I hate to say that my own kids have never seen them. And now that we live in the Sonoran Desert, I can’t imagine we will get a chance to travel that way before the kids are grown and gone.

  • kikibibi:

    Well I could certainly stand to consume 10% less food! I kid, I kid. This is a great idea, and if more people did it, it’d really catch on. We’re doing our part in this corner of the world! Thanks for sharing some really beautiful photos. kkhttp://roundoaktablev2.blogspot.com/

  • noble pig:

    I’m glad you found a parking space there, it can be insane sometimes! Good for you.

  • Anonymous:

    Dee from TennesseeGreat post and I love the photos. Actually, I heart the third photo….wonderful!

  • Pat@Back Porch Musings:

    Beautiful post Rechelle.Bravo for accepting the challenge.Pat

  • Mia:

    Amen. And well said.

  • Literarysnob:

    Consuing 10% less is pretty easy….I found that taking public transpotation has made my life so much less stressful! But I live in the city and I attend classes a local university so I am on campus or home most days. I have also learned to keep my lights off unless I really need them. I read by one of those energy saving light bulbs. I have replaced all of my lamps with these bulbs.I just have slowly changed my life style to not be such a “consumer.” My recyle garbage can goes to the street more than the landfill can does and I think that is an important way to live.Good luck with your pledge!Small steps can make a difference!

  • Jennie:

    Good job! Using 10% could be viewed as a challenge but might be easier than you think. Good luck! We have a family of five and honey, do we make some trash. I’ve tried to decrease our consumption as well and will continue. Thanks for your blog, I love it!

  • Linda:

    Hey Rechelle,I’m loving reading about your San Francisco trip. It’s one of my most favorite cities to visit. But I just had to pop on here and tell ya what I’m watching on the Encore movie channel … yup, Cold Comfort Farm! I was just flipping through channels and there it was. Now I’m hooked. My family will have to order a pizza for dinner tonight. LOL

  • Renovation Therapy:

    Your husband must have been in TREE heaven. Did he hug any?

  • Rhea:

    You rock. I would have raised my hand too. How could you not? Talk about peer pressure with all those majestic trees around you.I’ve always wanted to visit Muir Woods. I plan to one day. My sister has just moved to Palo Alto, so I will end up there at some point, I swear.My boys are happiest working their bodies too, running, playing, climbing. It really is such a boy thing.

  • Rechelle:

    Oh yeah Jean – He was waaaay in Tree heaven. He was in Tree ecstasy. He was totally cracked out on trees. It took seven grown men to drag him out of there.

  • Jenni:

    Well, hallelujah, but then you bought a book, printed on paper, which comes from trees. Oh faithless and perverse generation! Okay, okay, I’m kidding. I am a little bit of a tree hugger (though not a tree humping fanatic) and I do think we should be good stewards of what we’ve been given. Good for you for thinking about how you can consume less. Maybe you can give us all some ideas of how to start. Just don’t ask me to give up my toilet paper.

  • Heidi Ashworth:

    So that is where you were on Friday. (I’m not a stalker, really!) Well, there is another arguement for giving away used books.

  • Laura:

    Beautiful post. I’m glad you were inspired to raise your hand–I’m sure I would have been too.10% less purchasing is not hard to do at all! Out of every 10 times you want something and go to purchase it, you just forgo once?! Easy!!Those woods must have been profoundly breathtaking–thanks for sharing your experience and your pictures.