Once a year, I get to escape to a forest of Redwoods. The forest is quiet and peaceful, and begins almost abruptly as the road goes from scrub brush to a cavern of overhanging branches. As Redwoods go, the trees are quite small, but when compared to my beloved Ponderosa, they are massive. The ocean can just be glimpsed from the back windows. Earlier in the year, it is a scene of many a spectacular sunset, but not in December. December brings rain; often the small smile of ocean is completely hidden by clouds bearing the next storm. The drought has made it impossible to complain, though.
Rain brings its own beauty. The rhythmic spatter on the windows sounds like a lullaby in the night, and by day, the clouds add a haunting, mysterious quality to the towering trees. It’s easy to stand and watch the branches sway for hours.
The downside to all the rain is activities are essentially confined to the indoors. When there’s a story to be edited, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but places of beauty have a way of demanding that you drop everything and explore them.
At least, normally they do. This beautiful forest has one glaring fault that makes me hesitant to set foot in it, especially in December.
The redwoods are tarantula habitat.
And December is mating season. (Read: uncommonly active tarantulas.)
Two things one never wants to hear about a place.
I learned this about the forest several years after I started visiting, and it has tinged my visits ever since. That lovely tree, half-veiled by fog? Tarantula habitat. Those flowers? Tarantula habitat. This forest trail picturesquely colored by leaves? Ideal place for a tarantula to put in an appearance.
Are phobias and a vivd imagination a terrible combination? Yes they are.
The likelihood I will cross paths with one during the few short days I get to stay each year is nonexistent. Still, a portion of the time is spent considering all the horrifying ways it will happen. (Never mind the family I visit have only seen one once in all their years there – I know it’s going to happen!) But the forest remains a haven. There’s too much beauty to let a few arachnids keep me away.
If I were poetic, I’d make some profound remark about seeing the forest through the trees and so on. I am most emphatically not poetic – I sound like a greeting card gone wrong when I try – so instead I’ll end with this: the world is a troubled place, and seems to have only grown more so this past year. There’s a lot to be afraid of. But Christmas is less than a week away and a fresh New Year is right around the corner. Don’t let all the bad that could be in the future keep you from appreciating any good that’s around you.