Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I See Nature's Reservoir of Forgiveness

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I See Nature's Reservoir of Forgiveness

Article excerpt

In autumn and winter one year on the Girl Scout ranch we took care of in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado, men measured and marked the earth by Lone Pine Creek. Then they brought machines that roared, growled, and dug out a half-acre. The workers lined the new reservoir with impermeable clay, covered the clay with topsoil, loaded up their machines, and drove away.

Twice in early spring, we postponed planting the reservoir because the ground was frozen, and snow covered the frozen ground. Then one sunny Saturday morning, Girl Scouts and their leaders drove up the mountain.

Small girls, larger girls, women, and two men, we planted wetland plants and seeds in and around the reservoir. We gathered together in sunshine, scraped off mud, and ate lunch at picnic tables in tent site No. 2.

Then scouts and leaders hiked up the ranch while I took care of details in and around the reservoir. Before sunset, they walked down the meadow trail, got into their vehicles, and returned to the city.

To satisfy state laws regulating water use, the Girl Scouts, owners of this ranch, will run water from this reservoir into the creek when the water level gets low during the summer. This is to make up for the water used by the camp throughout the year.

At the headworks, I spanned the banks with a long pole, placed posts from the pole down to the front of the concrete apron set into the bottom of the stream, and spanned the posts with boards. The water in the creek rose, and some of it flowed into the reservoir. I checked the slowly filling reservoir and the headworks every day.

Spring storms brought new snow. Sunshine and warm days melted some of the snow. More snow drifted down from dark clouds above us. Snow melted on the mountain and ran into the stream. Water in the stream ran faster and higher between the stream's banks.

I walked toward the reservoir across snow a foot deep. I broke through the crust with nearly every step, an energy-consuming way to walk. I stopped and rested often. I looked at the mountain, at dramatic ridges of granite rising toward the sky on both sides of me. It was white where falling snow had found lodging. Gray, green, black, and all the colors of lichen grew on granite where snow fell away toward level ground.

Forest and grasses grew from all available soil between giant stones. Lone Pine Creek flowed past me, past our two lodges and three tent sites, and across the open meadow.

Sun shone into the warming day. Here, a hundred yards into my journey, an owl had swooped silently down just after midnight and taken a vole or a mouse. The owl's wings had marked the snow, which had stopped falling about midnight and frozen too hard to receive more impressions by 2 or 3 in the morning.

Already, bluebirds had returned from southern vacations. They courted on rapid wings in the sunshine above the snow. …

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