Greetings from Sequoia National Forest! I’m writing this from a cabin a few miles outside the park’s boundary, having just hiked through that forest and visited a brewery (as is my post-hike tradition). Because, despite having cultivated a scholarly persona through this blog, I am, in fact, a fan of hikes and such. And not just because I get to pretend I’m Nathan Drake.
Anyway, because I am me, I definitely played the Parade of The Ewoks while driving to the trailhead. Even though I’m still far south of where they actually shot Return of The Jedi and these trees aren’t the coastal redwoods that served as the backdrop of Endor, this is still pretty damn close (and they’re in the same taxonomic subfamily!).
To that point, I think it’s really cool how Star Wars (and other pieces of ‘genre’ fiction) are able to make our planet seem otherworldly.
These sequoias are incredible (the biggest branch of the biggest tree is two meters in diameter!) and unbelievable tall (I saw a tree that stood 97 meters tall!) and, for me, there’s the added bonus of getting to imagine I’m at risk of falling into an Ewok’s net at any moment. Iceland’s a beautiful country, plus everywhere I look I get to imagine I’m in Death Stranding. The Garden of The Gods in Colorado is gorgeous and I get to pretend I’m Aloy navigating the edge of the Sacred Lands. I want to go to New Zealand because it’s Middle-frickin-earth.
I’m sure someone much smarter than I (and less tired) can write a better essay about the blurring between fantasy and reality, about how fantasy makes reality seem more exciting. And y’know what, C.S. Lewis did! In an essay about stories and fantasy and the risk of it distracting people from reality, he wrote that the reader “…does not despise real woods because [they have] read of enchanted woods; the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.”
And I like that. I like my outdoors a little more magical.