Herman Hesse wrote, For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. Yesterday I was hiking at Mt. Si and in the lowest forest areas I saw a few Sitka spruce trees, unmistakable through their tangle of perpendicular and uplifted branches. Their growth habit is unlike any other tree, but to be sure, I took a look at the unusual rectangular scales of the bark. Long ago there were many more stands of Sitka Spruce in the Cascades, but now there are few, and the ones you see no longer live in tribes and families, as you see on the coast, but stand alone. I am always deeply struck when I encounter one; I've written about these encounters several times in these pages. It is their solitary nature, their survival against all odds. Of lone trees, Hesse wrote, In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, the build up their own forms, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing more exemplary than a beautiful strong tree.