Year 5, Piece Twenty: 39. Purple Green
New redwood growth. Old state stories.
[GIF] Rainbow Squared, Year 5, Piece Twenty: 39. Purple Green. A animated loop of a close-up of green fresh new coastal redwood growth with purple squiggly lines drawn on top and squiggling.
Nine out of these past twenty pieces have had Purple in them, nearly half. You can check the grid yourself. I determine each week’s colors by shuffling a deck of 49 different cards, and Purple just keeps showing up. In fact, Purple Green was the card I originally pulled when I decided to reshuffle and got Orange Blue. Purple wants to be here.
Purple is Mind, Mindfulness, Awareness, Wisdom, Self, Identity. Green is Heart, Love, Family, Leaves, Earth. So what does this Green tell us about Purple?
This past weekend we went to visit chosen family in Mendocino County. It was a reunion with the incredible humans that made up our germ pod for most of the pandemic, and it was also a reunion with the trees. The Redwoods. Coast Redwood, California Redwood, Sequoia Sempervirens, whatever you call them: the tallest living trees on Earth and some of the oldest too. But what struck me about seeing them again this time and perhaps at this time of year was not their age or their stature but all of the new growth.
Fresh redwood growth is such a vibrant green. On established trees you can see small branches of the new needles extending off the deeper green older ones. And on totally new growth, the whole shrub is that bright, new green, bursting with sheer potential. Potential to grow continuously, to tower over and outlive so many human projects. Potential to outlive the human project altogether.
Looking at new redwood growth also makes me think about its origins, how it came to be and all the other trees it is connected to. Because in all likelihood, any given redwood reproduced asexually. Redwood cones have a surprisingly low germination rate, so sexual reproduction by redwoods makes up only a small percentage of actual redwood trees. Most redwoods come from fallen branches, stumps, or sprouted from their own roots.
Yes, most redwoods are clones of other redwoods. New trees sprouting from dead parts of other ones, or right out of their trunk, or underground from the very same root system. Different manifestations of the same organism, connected. Redwoods demonstrate that there are many ways to make a family, many ways to reproduce, many ways to create and connect. And redwoods not only keep generating new redwoods, they create homes and habitats for other plants, bugs, birds, reptiles, mammals, fungus, and maybe even beyond. Redwood trees revel in community, and what I would call queer community at that, trees nurturing other trees and every other kind of creature besides.
And yet new redwood growth is also a reminder of loss. How many ancient redwood trees used to stand on California’s coast line, old growth forests decimated for extractive industry. We can never bring back those millenia of growth and interconnection. Preserving second growth redwood is a challenge even now, as the debate over logging in Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County plays out. It is perhaps hard to trust Cal Fire’s interests when they are ultimately the operation that profits from the materials. Frankly it’s hard to trust any state or government power, even when they claim to be doing good.
Yesterday the United States officially recognized Juneteenth as a national holiday. This is a good thing, AND it is not enough, as journalist Mara Schiavocampo shares in an opinion on CNN. I spend most of my internet time in a (beautiful) activist bubble, so it was exciting to read this on mainstream media. Also exciting for government officials themselves to speak out like St. Louis Rep. Cori Bush:
It’s Juneteenth AND reparations.
It’s Juneteenth AND end police violence + the War on Drugs.
It’s Juneteenth AND end housing + education apartheid.
It’s Juneteenth AND teach the truth about white supremacy in our country.
Black liberation in its totality must be prioritized.
Purple Green. If Purple is mind and Green is heart, then Purple Green is about keeping the two connected. Or more specifically, not letting the mind dominate the heart. Not letting social conditioning dictate who is in your family or how you love. Our expansive family connections are the basis of our identity and being; our relatives extend far beyond our own blood lines. Not letting extractive systems dictate what or even who is valuable.