Widgets The Good Place (Michael L. Umphrey on gardening, teaching, and writing)

"Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. - Benedict Spinoza."

Hunting with questions
     Asking questions about the landscape and the past

A team of adults and students visited Gerald Leighton along Spring Creek in the Mission Valley. They had been brought there by questions. They were studying a stream restoration project spearheaded by local environmental activist Bill Edelman that was underway, and they wanted to compile a history of the stream. They had read the journals of fur trade era residents, and knew that once the area supported dense beaver populations, but they also knew that now few beaver were to be seen. They had looked at aerial photographs that made vivid how the stream had been straightened and wetlands drained to increase ag production during World War II. They came intending to talk to Gerald about his fifty years experience living along the creek.

As they talked, they noticed an abandoned barn that, as they got nearer, they saw was crafted of hand-hewn logs. It was all that remained of a stagecoach stop, Gerald told them. This led to a story about his mother’s arrival in the valley in a Model T taxi before there were roads. He began pointing out where the cold house had been on the creek, where people lodged. All sorts of questions arose about the history of transportation–roads, waterways, railroads–began coming to mind.

Most places have layers and layers and layers of hidden history, and the more you learn the more you wonder. Our landscapes are enchanted with traces of lost worlds.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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2005 Michael L. Umphrey

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