Hugging Redwoods / by Benjamin Wilkinson

In late 2014, I decided to relocate to West Sonoma County after a challenging time trying to find a home in the greater San Francisco area. What was becoming a pretty large thorn in my side was quickly softened one Sunday last October when I returned to Armstrong Woods in Guerneville. It was as if these magnificent trees gave me a 1300-year-old hug and told me I was welcomed there. My new path clearly illuminated in front of me in the dappled autumn light on the forest floor. 

Within a month, I had found my dream home by the riverside. I packed up my temporary life in Oakland, and began to settle into my next chapter in a completely new environment. I moved without thinking too heavily about how this relocation would affect my career or personal life. I knew the elements would fall into place if I placed trust in this new and gifted direction. One might say I jumped off a cliff. I prefer saying I covered myself in bark. 

I have learned that my story is not unique around these parts. In fact, the forests and river are saturated with similar moments of clarity and direction for many individuals who live here, and from all walks of life. Sonoma's Russian River and surrounding communities are highly unique and magic-filled spaces. A brief read through local history will tell you that these forests were once the most dense on our planet in terms of harvestable wood. The wisdom and comfort found in an ancient coastal redwood forest is real. And although almost all of the ancient growth fell to human hands many generations ago, the regrowth period is a renaissance in many ways—for both the forest's growth and the humans that thrive within it. 

We can learn a lot about ourselves in the solitude and presence of an old growth forest. The quiet peace gives our souls a chance to breathe and listen, taking a break from the grasping and throwing to figure out our next move. I guess you could say that about any moment of solitude, but I'm admittedly biased to this particular place. 

So, if you're feeling stuck, creatively blocked, sick of the grind, wanting something more... I highly suggest hugging an old redwood tree as soon as possible. Wrap your arms around it. Look it straight up, squeeze it and give thanks for providing a true sense of wisdom, steadfastness, love and renewal in the world. It'll do your soul some good. And it's okay to be a tree hugger. My arborist friends agree. 

I work from here, too—so your design projects are in a very good place :-)