Ibis Nights: The Pale Giant

Every time I turn around Eucalyptus trees are being vilified.  Whether it is the brittleness of their big limbs causing them to break off in heavy winds, falling on peoples' houses, bikes, and sometimes even the people themselves, or their exceptional flammability, their prodigious growth and spread, or their profligate love of water, they have many critics. In spite of the good sized one in the neighbors yard next to the house I grew up in, I never had any of those things happen to me and thus do not have any practical negative impressions. One of my most lasting memories of Eucalyptus are those giant ones lining Highway 99 through the San Joaquin Valley, and of the massive ones that once lined the middle of old Highway 101 in the Camarillo area.

There is a great big one in, what I call, the Oak Woodland at Pomona College. Its white trunk stands out against the darker trunks of the oaks; on this evening it had a little extra help being illuminated by the sun, its double trunk looking as if it had been whitewashed, strips of peeled bark twisted and curled upon the woodland floor. The trail runs right up next to it before bending away, but the best view is the approach along this darker corridor where, if your timing is right, it looks as though it has been slathered in zinc oxide sunscreen.