Greetings From: Crescent City, CA

Trying to see the top of a Redwood tree at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Crescent City, California.

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

In the 1920s, whiskey bootleggers needed to outrun the law. They modified their cars to fun faster. It led to races for bragging rights. The racing became as popular as the whiskey, and now NASCAR runs 1500 races per year at 100 tracks in 48 states.

In 1937, a man and his wife were tossing a $.05 circular cake pan back and forth on the beach. Someone offered them $.25 for it. A business was born. Wham-O bought the idea, improved it, and our world now has disc golf, disc dogs, freestyle competitions, and international associations.

In 1975, a California kid sold his VW bus. His friend sold a scientific calculator. They pooled the money to start a company named after a fruit. These days, their company has more money than Mexico, the Netherlands, or Switzerland. You may have one of their products in your pocket.

Humble beginnings.

We love stories where humble beginnings lead to majestic endings.

Rags to riches. Zero to hero.

Your favorite superhero probably started as an orphan. Or as a small, weak, bullied child suffering from a debilitating disease.

For us Americans, maybe we love these stories because we see ourselves in them. Pilgrims tired of being oppressed by a rich, entitled King risk it all in a wild, unsettled land. And become a world superpower.

Or maybe we love these stories because they parallel the Gospel. An innocent Savior, born in a lowly manger to working-class parents, cares for the weak and powerless, takes on the powerful established religion, and ends up offering his life for all of us.

“Tall oaks from little acorns grow.”

The white speck in the bottom center of the photo is our RV, dwarfed by the giant trees.

Whoever wrote that never encountered a Redwood tree.

You could fit 100 Redwood seeds inside an average Oak tree acorn. 

And tall?

The tallest Oak tree is around 100’. Redwoods can easily triple that. And more.

Rags to riches is never a direct path. Heros don’t immediately spring from zeros. 

There are trials involved. Villains to vanquish. Planets to save.

The three of us couldn’t even hug a quarter of this Redwood tree.

Early Redwood preservationists thought the best way to save them was to keep fire away from them. An easy, risk-free life would be best, right?

But Redwoods need fire.

Fires clear out smaller trees and underbrush that can crowd the soil and nutrients that the Redwood needs to thrive. The Redwood’s thick, non-flammable bark helps the tree tolerate the fire. 

Maybe we like stories with humble beginnings for another reason.

If heroes can come from zeros, if there are riches to be made from our rags, if the oldest and largest living thing on our continent needs a little fire now and then to thrive?

Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

Learn more about the Redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park at parks.ca.gov/?page_id=413