Thursday, July 1, 2010

From the Breaks

I live on the breaks between the Minam-Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers.

Part of my every day commute brings me in contact with the seasonal changes, including the glorious spread of wildflowers the extra rain has encouraged into blooming.

As I gaze at one of my favorites, Clarkia pulchella, my mind wanders. This is the truth of where I live - land that still maintains the seeds of wildflowers along with the seeds of invasive weeds (there's cheatgrass in the photo), land that maintains its integrity in spite of barbed wire and property lines. I don't know how long that will continue, without our intervention and restoration. Streams that used to be year-round, with trout and steelhead, are now barely seasonal and dry down to algal mats by July. One lifetime. I've noticed that at our elevation/rainfall it takes about a decade for wildflowers to grow back from where they've been grazed, about 2 decades for where they've been plowed. Part of why I choose to live here is that the land still remembers, the seeds are still there waiting for rain, waiting to sprout.

Clarkia pulchella means "beautiful clarkia". This is the beauty of where I live, the absolutely stunning diversity of life, from Clarkia to lupines to cat's ear lilies to cougar to coytoe to Pygmy nuthatches to the wrens that are raising their young in the birdhouse on the eaves of our house. Every morning is a hallelujah of meadowlark, redwing, flicker; every evening a choral benediction of robin, bluebird, mourning dove.

I love where I live, I love the rich gift of this beauty. I am honored to be part of this zoopolis.

It seems that every day my heart is breaking with some terrible news of irreversible loss.
I have known many good friends who chose to see only the 'Truth' - the spreading invasives on every hillside, the degraded streams, the damaged lands, the loss of spring peepers or hummingbird moths. I do see all that, and refuse to close my eyes or pretend that "Nature" will take care of the problems.

But I also deliberately choose to see the Beauty, the humbling resilience of life. I can only do so much to change the world I live in, but I can change the focus of my attention. Truth and Beauty. Clarkia pulchella and cheatgrass. Seeing both, I can make a choice about what I will assist in thriving as well as celebrate.

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