“What is learned in the Immanent Grove is not much talked about elsewhere. It is said that no spells are worked there, and yet the place itself is an enchantment. Sometimes the trees of that Grove are seen, and sometimes they are not seen, and they are not always in the same place… It is said that the trees of the Grove themselves are wise.” –Ursula K. Le Guin (The Farthest Shore, Earthsea Cycle)

Enter a wise forest. Notebook in hand. Preferably solo. Be ready to pause. Kneel when a yellow spotted millipede putters across the path. Rest your cheek on the mossy whiskery trunk of an immense Sitka Spruce. Feel your senses drenched in the swaying, greening, blooming, spinning, spiraling, and bird singing.

Come with me on May meanders among the “immanent groves” of Cape Lookout State Park on the northern Oregon Coast, where chainsaws, roads, and machines have not violated the sanctity of Sitka spruce and western hemlocks rising, leaning, growing, dying, renewing, and skirted in multi-layered thickets. All is interwoven. Kinship is the word. While camping there for several days, I followed trails illuminated in Chandra LeGue’s Oregon’s Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide and scribbled notes in my field journal.

Later that month, while hiking in the Columbia River Gorge’s enchanted Latourell waterfall loop, my son Ian (climbing trees along the way) reminded me of the “immanent grove.” That sent me seeking out the books I’d read as a child and sometimes when nestled in the nook of a tree, like Ian first read them in a treehouse–The Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore. From there, I fell to investigating other books and stories where the brilliant Oregon author wove in the power of the ancient forests she had come to know, love, and defend in her home state.

Ursula carefully chose the adjective for the grove of wise trees. To be “immanent” is to be essential, intrinsic, innate, engrained, remaining within, indwelling, inherent, and deep-rooted.

“The novices, the townsfolk, the farmers consider that the Grove moves about in a mystifying manner. But in this they are mistaken, for the grove does not move. Its roots are the roots of being. It is all the rest that moves.”–Ursula K. Le Guin

We have a historic opportunity to save the wise immanent groves. The Biden Administration is asking us to let them know how best to protect “mature and old-growth” forests on National Forests and on Bureau of Land Management lands, too. We can stop the ongoing logging of unprotected forests and big trees. We can change hearts and minds–if enough of us step up. The deadline for comments is June 20th–less than a month away. Thank you for taking action. Find out more at Climate Forests.

First–come with me on my wandering ways on the Cape Lookout trails…

“No way was clear, no light unbroken, in the forest. Into wind, water, sunlight, starlight, there always entered leaf and branch, bole and root, the shadowy, the complex.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, The Word for World is Forest. (Marina’s photo hiking the North Trail up from the beach at Cape Lookout State Park)


Fiddlehead to fern…
spiral unrolling a pinnate ladder
called “circinate vernation”
Circling Vernal is the way.

Snapped by storm, the twisting fall.
Jagged teeth protrude from ripped top
Hollowed out invitation
Shelter. Home. Banquet.
Vaux’s Swift, Northern Saw-whet Owl
Pacific Wren, Douglas Squirrel…

Wafting within translucence like a moth drawn
to a full moon, I am fluttering upward
through tall trees until at last I am released to float
down to the ease of shamrocks—redwood sorrels–
Oxalis oregana tendering every wound.

Strung in spider web
A stickery spruce twig
Lucent basketry

White-crowned sparrow singing from a bare branch
above the salal, above the beach, above the great chorus of the Pacific Ocean
opens his beak and I open my mouth to sip the salty syrup of notes
All I yearn for, all I’ve ever loved, will love, have lost, and will always seek.

I left the forests of Cape Lookout with a promise. I will humbly honor my wise tree elders. I will do my part to protect the threatened ever more rare wild forests that are capturing and storing carbon at far higher rates than small trees and plantations. Ah but there is so much more to the oxygen-yielding, pulsing with life ways of entangled forests.

Thank you for walking with me in May in the rare forests of Cape Lookout State Park (sadly with so many fresh clearcuts on private lands nearby). I wish I could have given voice to the multitude of bird songs stirring my heart–Hermit warblers, Wilson’s warblers, Pacific wrens, Chestnut-backed chickadees, White-crowned sparrows, and more. I’ve added more photos below, and another reminder to speak for the trees, because as Ursula Le Guin wrote in The Word for World is Forest:

“A forest ecology is a delicate one. If the forest perishes, its fauna may go with it.”

Share your story–your love for big wild forests and centuries-old wise trees wherever you live and why we must save them from logging. Take action and support grassroots conservation groups advocating for permanent forest protection.

Trillium trills in threes.
Immanent spruce –listen to our elders.
Admire the ingenuity for survival of the yellow spotted millipede–denizen of lush Pacific Northwest forests. And check this out: https://blog.nature.org/2017/10/17/millipede-protects-itself-cyanide-yellow-spotted-bugs/
A dew drop globe upon every bristle of the horsetail or equisetum brushing up from platter leaves of skunk cabbage.
Spruce extends a mighty bicep to hold up an airborne tree.
Tree beckons the ocean. Ocean and forest as one. Cape Lookout.
Salmonberry bloom like a scoop of sherbert ice cream waiting for…hummingbird.
The way of the forest is humbling in complexity and layers. A tree falls and nurses new life.
With every step on a wild forest trail, a chance to open all senses to joy.
On my way to the North Trail through the forest by way of the beach, the ocean has left a message…
Outdoor office at my campsite at Cape Lookout State Park.
My son Ian up a tree as usual! (This from the Columbia River Gorge forests).