None of this is false. Our Tar Creek has a reputation to live up to, worst, most polluted, lost. She is even the namesake of one of the largest superfund sites in the nation. A site that has yet to have a comprehensive plan developed for a real and lasting cleanup.
We have all shown patience. We have waited knowing that the only federal governmental agency with PROTECTION as a middle name would have the best and wisest scientists, geologists, hydrologists who would put their minds together as one and solve the issues, scrape this moonscape back together, healing the land and allowing clean water to flow through it, passing through Commerce and bringing that delightfully refreshing water down through the pecan grove, past my friends' homes along her banks, siding by Torbert Park and nesting through the Frisbee Golf course sliding by what was the Coleman's gazebo before she ducks beneath the Rockdale Bridge, edges through the college campus, lies neatly beneath the bridge at Central before passing in sight of the Rotary Centennial Park where those walking know she passes quietly nearby, while barely noticed she slides under the Highway 10 bridge and gets going wide and deep enough for a fleet of kayaks to join her on her way to the Neosho.
I came to see Tar Creek differently today. I was invited by one of LEAD Agency's board members to come to care for the creek. We have done cleanups along the creek over the years. But this was different. We did pick up a bit of debris, but we took time to watch the water flow, traveling as it did over the rocks, spilling past, shining in the sunlight, rushing past, not noticing many of us watching, pausing to marvel at the roots of the trees washed away by the water, finding the limb broken from a tree, so clearly worked by the resident woodpecker, the hole a work of art no longer his. I always slow when walking along this part of the creek to find a rock that works as a worry stone, and easily bent for this day's, which was later gifted to one of our local medical heroes walking past at the end of his day. We can ease much of his worries if we all wear our masks, social distance and take our vaccines when our turns come around.
Discarded items, some unnamed, debris, bits of broken glass already being weathered by the water were removed. But the Indian patterned blanket we left wrapping the tree as we had found it. As has usually been the case, we did find a tire, this time a very small one, allowing my Texas accent to announce that, "Yes, we had indeed found TIRE CREEK." (An old and sad joke I have pulled on her all these years, because there most always will be a TIRE discarded in her.)
The sun's light, the breeze, the temperature of the afternoon put together gave those of us gathered this pandemic day a chance to see this creek in a new way, brought together friends, and new friends and gave us pause before we left to reflect on the time we had experienced there.
I left the house without bringing Olive Sullivan's poem, Martin Lively read Amanda Gorman's insightful words:
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Then the words of an old Gaelic Blessing were read by a child:
May you always be blessed with walls for the wind.
A roof for the rain. A warm cup of tea by the fire.
Laughter to cheer you. Those you love near you.
And all that your heart might desire.
All these years coming to the creek, this time we came to show we cared while we listened to Jen Myzel, whose music is medicine for these times, sing "Seed Kiva's" words:
"Dream with me. What is the beautiful world beyond war and fear,
that you know in your heart is not only possible but is what we are here to do?"
"The seeds are dreams of poems yet untold of stillnesses the universe unfolds."
That is what we heard and the seed of this day is the dream of what we can find, what we can have if collectively we begin this journey to care, to genuinely care for this water that seeks only to pass through and find her ocean.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim