watershed1The thirsty drink water from a bowl made of mountains, hills, and trees…

In the rural area where I lived for 20 years — and throughout Oregon, as well as elsewhere — “watershed management” has become a common term. Farmers and ranchers compete with urbanites and salmon for water to feed us all. The media call them “water wars,” but without water, no one eats and no one “wins.” If the salmon lose, we lose too. The issue looms ever larger: climate change, population growth, and an economy on the verge of collapse. Fear makes it hard to manage anything, but we try. Meanwhile, “watershed management” has become a career path. Years ago, an earnest young woman came to a community meeting to asked us this question:

“What is the one most beneficial thing that a resident can do to improve the quality of watersheds?”

She was trying to organize a citizen’s committee to come up with a “management plan,” but I thought instead of all the waters that pour from the sky to fill the creek where I lived, which replenishes the wide ocean, as well as our cloudy Oregon sky. I saw myself standing at the creek watching the salmon spawn as they have spawned since long before my ancestors stood on two legs. I thought of the bucket I used to haul water to my little house. I felt, again, the immense gratitude and wonder I have for all the miracles, seen and hidden, that make my life possible. Rather than sign up for more meetings, I sent her the following message:

(The rest of the story will be posted at Mother Earth News after 5/23/15…)

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