We are surrounded by gentle giants. But it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I realized. Branches and leaves reach up to the sky from the patch of land between the concret slabs. They fan out over homes, and cut their shadows across the dry desert heat.

New York races its buildings past the treetops to scratch the sky, so though I’ve hidden from the rain, huddled against their trunks, they never struck me as big. The suburban pines of my childhood decorated the background of my consciousness, seen but unseen.

Except for one, proud in a pasture, preening for all who drove by, but far enough away that she never seemed big. She shrunk in on herself after a flood or a drought stole her leaves and eventually brought her down.

But LA’s trees are new. They fan their roots over and under the urban terrain; they are still here, still here, no matter what you do. And I see them. The new ones and the old ones, and wave hello on my commute. They smile down as my bike makes the hard right at the bottom of the hill, cutting in quickly to avoid the cars, and wave me on my way home.

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