Monday, December 9, 2019

The Moss Abides

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Recent rains have brought the moss back into furry exuberance. Here it cloaks a canyon live oak, or maul oak (Quercus chrysolepis), on the little hill near Sunset Point (which I almost invariably visit around sunrise). According to the Forest Service, "The hard dense wood is shock resistant and was formerly used for wood-splitting mauls. It is an excellent fuel wood and makes attractive paneling. Canyon live oak is also a handsome landscape tree."

The same web site says the tree can live for 300 years. If so, the oldest canyon live oak recorded on Monumental Trees, which was planted at the State Capitol Museum Park in about 1870, is only middle-aged at 150 years. This one on Mt. Tam has a companion of similarly impressive size, both of which have endured on this very exposed and windy ridge.

Countless bits of acorn rubble were scattered over the ground beneath the two oaks, the remnants of nuts foraged by deer, turkeys, squirrels, acorn woodpeckers, steller's jays, jackrabbits, raccoons, gray fox, and coyotes. And, I suspect, many had simply been squashed beneath human shoes, as this is a popular location with an adjacent parking lot. 

I recently found a discarded or forgotten bridal veil here, remnant of someone's photo shoot, strewn in the tall grass. How long beyond the Instagram moment will the bride's marriage last? Maybe less than five years. The median age at first marriage for women in California is 25.3; the median age for first divorce is 29. Like The Dude (who recently turned 70), the moss and the oaks abide.