吊 / Lament
Among the longest-lived creatures on earth, sequoia sempervirens can exceed a fir’s height by 200 feet, the base of its trunk wider than a horse carriage or city block. Its tallest example is named Hyperion, its eldest Grogan’s Fault, discovered after 2000 years of obscurity to all but itself, this tree that feeds on fog, bears both pollen and seed cone for self- insemination. It can churn through humus and bedrock for burls to adopt as seedlings after fire, the awl- shaped leaves—dark green, with blue- white bands of stomata—twisted and spire- topped to trap each glimpse of sun. Richer than wine with tannic acid, rilled with sapsucker pocks, the fluted bark resists fungus, insect, damp and rot. Flickers and deer mice thrive within its branch wells. So, too, do salamanders and pseudoscorpions, vines of huckleberry, tree frogs and webworm moths, the silver-haired bat and fringed myotis. Named for the man who developed Cherokee’s syllabary, this tree’s fire scars have housed horse stables and itinerant families inside its gouges, its milled planks alone remaining untouched when San Francisco burned, these lovers of flood and flame, that cannot conduct heat and compensate for weakness by sloughing and splitting, buttressing wind- lean with selective wood growth. Once covering, in 1850, over 2 million acres, they now prevail in strips and plots totaling 40,000 football fields. Stanford, attracted to what he saw of their strength, ordered steam engines into groves to drag logs down through skid trails, the heartwood stacked on railroad pallets to make more railroad, the billets uprooted, trekked to the opposite coast where Charles Sheeler painted Rolling Power, his portrait of Dreyfuss’ New York Central Locomotive, its wheel wells slick as cloisonné in olives, greys and browns. The most spectacular American invention yet, Sheeler marveled, the buckskin ties tamped tight to their irons, shadowing his canvas margin.