The City of Elfanen

Imagine an ancient city built miraculously into a hidden coastal valley, where towering conifers and uncanny masonry exist in complete harmony. Living giant redwoods, their roots fully integrated with wells and aquifers beneath the surface, serve as columns in buildings built deep into the granite walls. Cascades of steps and terraces flow gracefully down streets and alleyways that were once narrow ravines. Inconspicuous doorways lead to subterraneous highways bridging the coast to the inland plains.

Visions of this lofty arboreal city set in stone have been in my head ever since childhood, when I was first enthralled by the fantastic settings of Tolkien's tales: the dwarven halls of Moria, the mountain citadels of Gondolin, Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith, and especially the elven enclave of Lothlórien. They became all the more vivid when the redwood forests of northern California were filled with loft-building Ewoks in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi.

When I began exploring the Giant Sequoias, the High Sierras and the Coastal Redwoods of my state, as well as the alpine villages of Switzerland, southern France and northern Italy, the imagery was indelibly complete. In moments of idle leisure, or the few minutes of sleeplessness in bed, I entertain myself with stories of this place -- of its long, illustrious but tumultuous history through natural calamities, wars as well as changes in technology, culture and social mores, played out by a resilient people rumored to have immortals walking in their midst.

Next Page: The tree wells of Elfanen


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