The Tallest Trees in the World

By Linda Porter Carlyle

 Joseph Anderson Donetti stared out the car window. “Is that one?” he asked, pointing.

“No!” Mac answered. “When you see one, you’ll know it! You won’t have to ask!”

Joseph grunted.

“It won’t be much longer,” G.M. (Joseph’s Grandma Maddie) said from the front seat. “I promise.”

Joseph carefully watched both sides of the windy road. He could hardly wait to see his first redwood tree. He wanted to see the tallest and the oldest trees in the world!

“I think I’m just as eager to see the redwoods as Joseph is,” Mom said, carefully steering around the curves. “After all, I haven’t seen them myself for a long, long time.”

Mac wiggled in her seatbelt. “Well, I’m just as eager too,” she exclaimed, “because I love the redwoods more than anything! I love the way they tower over you, and you have to look up and up and up! And I love the way they smell! And I love how quiet it is in the forest!”

“It’s not so quiet when you’re there,” Joseph muttered under his breath.

“You’re lucky I’m too happy to punch you!” Mac retorted.

“There!” Joseph shouted. “That’s a redwood, isn’t it? Can we stop and get out of the car?”

“I told you you’d know one when you saw it!” Mac whooped.

Joseph’s head swiveled around as they passed the tall, tall tree.

Mom grinned. “We’ll stop the car pretty soon and walk down one of the trails,” she answered.

“Look at the ferns,” Mac said, pointing out the window. “I love the ferns too! They’re all over in the redwoods. When we stop and walk in the forest, there’ll be ferns taller than you!”

The highway became very narrow. Huge redwood trees crowded it on both sides. Joseph made himself dizzy trying to look up at the tops of the trees as they drove by. “How tall do they grow?” he asked, even though he remembered the answer from the last time he’d asked the question.

“About as high as a thirty story building,” G.M. repeated with a smile.

“Wow!” Joseph breathed.

“This looks like a good place to stop,” Mom said, slowing down. “There’s a sign pointing to a trail we can take.” She pulled the car off to the side of the road and parked. “Now you guys be really careful!” she cautioned Joseph and Mac. “Stay as far away from the edge of the road as you can.”

Other cars were parked alongside the highway. Little groups of people with camera straps slung around their necks stood looking up at the wonderful trees.

Joseph took a deep breath of the wonderful-smelling air.

Mac filled her lungs too and grinned at Joseph. She looked around. “Sorrel!” she exclaimed. “I forgot to tell you about sorrel!” She plunged ahead down the trail. “It’ll be all dusty right by the highway. Come on!”

When Joseph caught up with her, Mac had a plant that looked like a giant clover hanging out of her mouth. She handed him one. “Bite on the stem,” she instructed.

Joseph cautiously bit down on the greenish stem. A burst of lemony flavor filled his mouth. “That’s good!” he said. He bent down to pick another.

“Don’t eat it all,” G.M. teased, coming up behind them. “Save some for the next generation.”

“Look at that!” Joseph exclaimed, pointing.

A huge redwood tree had fallen over years ago, and its curly roots were exposed. They looked like some kind of crazy climbing equipment on a playground. “Can we climb up there?” Joseph asked.

“Sure,” G.M. said. “Go for it.”

Mac and Joseph climbed up the roots until they were as high as G.M.’s head. The roots were worn dark and smooth in places from years of being climbed upon.

“Hold it!” Mom said. “Smile! I want to take a picture.”

After Mom’s camera clicked, Mac jumped to the ground. “Let’s see if we can find a goose pen!” she shouted.

G.M. laughed.

Joseph looked at her, puzzled, and then jogged down the trail after Mac.

Mac stopped to circle one of the huge trees. “Here!” She disappeared.

“It’s hollow!” Joseph exclaimed. He ducked down and scrambled into the tree where Mac already was. “I’m standing inside a tree!” he marveled. “Right inside a tree! How come it’s like this?”

“A long time ago, a fire burned it out,” Mac explained. “And in the olden days, people would put their chickens and geese inside and block up the entrance at night. Neat, huh?”

Mom and G.M. appeared in the opening and peeked in.

“Can you believe this?” Joseph asked. “You could make a fort in here! I wish we had one of these in our backyard!”

“This tree could be a thousand years old!” Mac said, patting the thick bark as they climbed back out.

“Are you serious?” Joseph asked.

“Sure!” Mac said. “Right, G.M?”

“I don’t know exactly how old this particular tree is,” G.M. answered. “But it’s hundreds of years old anyway. I think the oldest tree known is a kind of redwood called the giant sequoia. Scientists think it could be 2,500 years old, which means it was full grown way before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. That would make it the oldest living thing on earth, I guess.”

Joseph’s mouth dropped open. “I want to see it!” he exclaimed.

Mom laughed. “It’s in California, not that far away. Maybe someday we can,” she said.

“Let’s go farther down the trail so we can’t hear the cars on the highway,” Mac said. “I want to hear the quiet of the forest.” She glared at Joseph, daring him to comment.

“Yes, let’s do,” Mom replied. She paused. “I just love Sabbath. I’m so glad God gave us a special day when we could take time to explore His wonderful creation, and listen to the peace of the forest, and think about His love!”

“Me too!” Joseph agreed. He looked up at the soft light filtering through the dense tops of the tall trees. For a moment it seemed to him that if he were quiet enough—and Mac were quiet enough!—he would be able to hear angel voices.

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