In Mendocino, walking from the trailhead at Russian Gulch and then along Fern Creek to the waterfall two-plus miles northeast, walkers can see some of the changes the forest has gone through in the winter of 2017.
Trees have fallen everywhere, without a thought for where they were falling. Trees have snapped off and fallen from their roots downward and from their tips upward. Trees have fallen suddenly from heights of hundreds of years, and trees have fallen downwards from the day before yesterday.
Men and women from the California State Parks and Recreation have cleared the trees that have fallen across the path so that we can continue walking up toward the waterfall. We can see the sawdust that has fallen on the ground beneath the tree that has fallen all by itself, either across the path or into the stream. We can see that the men and women have had to cut the fallen trees we see into pieces with a saw so that we can keep walking along the path and the stream can keep flowing.
What we see from these fallen trees is that they've often been cut up into pieces by a saw into ever smaller pieces, and that at the very bottom of the pieces cut is something that usually ends up being called by all of us, 'sawdust'.
But some of us may object to the word 'sawdust', hoping that the people who've used the saw don't really think of what they've made as 'sawdust', hoping that we may someday think of it as something else, as the dust of wood that came from trees that fell all by themselves in the forest, giving 'sawdust' a new name, a name less presumptuous, less domineering, less assumptive of the notion that men control nature, more faithful to reality, a name like 'wood dust' instead.