We had gone to pick up some dry wood that had fallen near and on the neighbor's fence there on the prairie's edge just at the fence line where the tree whose limbs had fallen, the bark sloughed. There at the base where the land lapped were waves of du-wi-shi , fluffed up like light golden miniature pillows: Pleurotus ostreatus. I never saw such a site. But right on the edge of my property, inches away, across the fence not mine to take.
Another day took me to the edge of the property where a family of red cedar seedlings had landed, all perfectly lined up like soldiers next to my adjoining neighbor's barbed wire fence. I had driven the John Deere and taken the heavy lobbers and turned the engine off and began the process. 86 cedars cut that afternoon and had daylight lasted, the other 89 cedars would have been cut to finish that fence row.
Today after sitting through the best part of the virtual Oklahoma Water Conference presentation, the daylight could not be resisted, so it was the slow removal of honeysuckle vines. One plucked out, gingerly to not break the strand, strand after strand. Each one hung separately on the leafless redbud tree. Those vines will become baskets in the weeks to come. The vines will be boiled and the bark easily removed to reveal the smooth woody strands that will make beautiful Cherokee double-weave baskets that will be filled with the wild plum jam made from the summer's crop and black walnuts for Christmas gifts. The plants that grow on my property are why I push for the cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund site. None of the plants that grow along Tar Creek, or in the flood zones along the Spring River down to Twin Bridges may be safe to eat. Research by our own Ean and Meredith Garvin has proven this. And that is NOT right.
DEQ called to say GRDA will be addressing the dams on Tar Creek this week, so her flow will be restored, but the trees that have been vandalized and will die may produce wi-shi, that no one should eat. The sediment they have been growing in will have accumulated metals for the last 100 years that the roots have been pulling up into and embedding in their cells, while those roots were holding sediments that would stabilize the banks, curbing erosion, trying in their way to protect her neighbors from more extreme flooding. Tree seedlings will have to grow for decades to replace the ones our very own vandals have cut down or cut in ways to ensure they will surely die.
Last week in kayaks on Hudson Creek down to the bend that flows into the Neosho River, I was reminded how water can connect us, that slow smooth surface brought friends together to enjoy nature's beauty, find the feather treasures left by the pelicans who were finding the same place a sanctuary. That beauty along our creeks serves as our buffer, provides life to the communities of species, and is our gateway to the treasures of the natural world we live upon with them.
The Rights of Nature. We understand that right deeply and much more clearly as we take ourselves out in it. Take some time and gift yourself that afternoon sun, a moment to value the treasures we have around us, the random seedlings that are planning their life's work for your grandchildren and know our responsibility is to live through this pandemic for them. For in us are the stories we have not yet told, the work we have not completed and the true love we still need to express.
With Rights also comes Responsibilities. We have a responsibility to ensure those rights for Nature, too.
And Eddie Webb, our county's environmental deputy will be enforcing them!
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim