The Red Cedar - Red Gold Trilogy: By Ian Ridgway
I have come to believe that so much of what happens in our lives - the paths we take and the choices we make are all due to tiny seeds that are planted into the fertile earth of our minds at an early age. For me, those seeds were planted by one of my grandfathers whose eyes would light up and whose words would become very reverent when talking about a particular tree. That tree - the red cedar - although forgotten by most in 2012, was the one that laid the foundations of a modern Australia and more than anything else, transformed a convict colony into a nation. For my grandfather there was one tree above all, the red cedar - the king of all trees - and I can still hear the distain in his voice when he described all others as being only fit for firewood.
From that tiny seed sown so long ago, my life has been greatly influenced by the story of red cedar because it truly is a fascinating story full of history, action, adventure, adversity, triumph, near extinction and reincarnation. My working life has revolved around timber through high school teaching, wood machining, cabinetmaking and sawmilling, and it now seems perfectly natural that I would write about the most famous of all Australia's trees. As I delved back through the generations of my own family from convict transportation through to the present, red cedar has played a significant role throughout and I wonder if my books and my story were all "meant to be" as if the collective memory of my forebears were willing me on.
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