Autumn dropped off her first sunny day here yesterday, after weeks of smoke and wind and rain. Walking up in the forest (working forest, currently a clear cut, you can see how I have learned to dream the long game) near my house, it felt like I’d been transported to a different time, a different year, one without the constant threat of doom. Yep. It got sunny and I felt hope. I’m so easy. Or maybe it just reminded me what it’s like to walk through air that isn’t constantly fighting back. I could breathe. I could see for miles. I wasn’t getting drenched. I felt good. I wanted to go swimming.
Sunshine does that to me, when it’s accompanied by a little bit of warmth. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for fifty years now, it’s an automatic association. I’ll take it.
I had actually already been out on the lake, only not swimming. I got to tool around on my boat for a couple of hours with Ben Peterson, an aquatic weed expert from King County, who is a generally truly excellent human. He’d come to be interviewed for my new … well, I started out calling it a Vlog, but, really, it’s a series of short films about this lake that I call home.
We talked about plants, and water quality, and the choices we humans face when we’re living in the middle of what could be a very healthy natural environment. Every time he talked about landowners giving the shoreline over to native plants, creating buffers, providing habitat for native critters, I got so happy. I could see it. Not, like, there in front of me. Most of the properties at the North end of Ames Lake, where we were at the time, have obsessively landscaped yards. I saw it in my mind and in my memories and in my hopes for the future.
There it is again. Hope. I guess it wasn’t just the sunny day. It’s that long view of an ecosystem in constant flux. It could go that way again. The clear cut has been replanted. This summer it was an ongoing wildflower showcase that never would have been there if they hadn’t cut down the trees. In the sections that were logged first this round, about ten years ago, the trees are fifteen feet tall.
When I moved to Ames Lake in 1970 the trees around the lake were only about 25 feet tall. They were babies. Time passes and trees grow and sometimes they get cut down again and sometimes new trees come to take their place. Sometimes people clear their lots next to a lake and put in cement bulkheads and manicure their lawns. And sometimes they don’t.
It is my hope that these short films I’m making (It’s not a Vlog when each one takes about a month to create) will be a nudge in that direction.