My friendship with this tree is an old one. Our introduction was not a meeting so much as being summoned to a waiting cradle of branches. My wow has the force of a hundred surprised children without the tongues to speak; the tongues of a thousand agog aliens synthesizer- circling electronic eyes; the eyes, ocelli, of a million metamorphosed insects testing the beat of their wings, antennae tasting air of moss and mushroom, ocean and leaf. Octopus tree responded to this wow by warming me: Your light is so very blue. This is something you don’t forget. Now all of me autopilots down the trail, wondering if in the evening hours this Octopus dances to the edge of the cliff overlooking the Pacific and considers returning to watery home. Branch over root Octopus Tree would fall, until broken bark revealed the tentacle truth. When we are face to face this is something I show her, while she pulls at my nearest memory, crows on a wire, and pushes moss and mushroom into my skin. Octopus Tree and I tangle, light dancing around every limb, reading her, reading me. Colors swarm us, mold and mushroom, moss and sap, wildflowers yellow. All the while, blue ocean beckons from below: to me, to us, to me.
The challenge: one observation for every day of July. 31 days, 31 observations. Day 1 took me to Cape Meares and the Three Capes Scenic Route along the Oregon Coast. It’s one of my favorite spots in Oregon, thanks in no small part to the Octopus Tree and Big Spruce. Observation after the photo!
Cape Meares boasts woods that whisper, and the only path in has found our feet. A fallen Sitka spruce leaves a dry canyon to our right, its spider roots reaching skyward. Life is already hatching from its corpse; moss and ferns find the vein. It’s less a walk than a stop and whoa, as we move around marvels that have crafted themselves into scare-trees to banish some and call others in. News of our arrival is traded from branch to leaf, through circle roots and stacked limbs. The tallest spruce in Oregon winks through the cover of neighboring trees, offering a peak at dinosaur skin. She knows we’re coming. One final turn and there: what 800 years of living can do. Reverence. I wonder if I should have brought such an elder a gift. Her knuckled base moans: bring only yourself, and leave with exactly this. She is thunder dug deep, and with a touch to root she relieves me.