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A narrow path, or if you are especially lucky, no path at all, takes you there.

Do you prefer to explore upstream or downstream?

Downstream gathers ever more and gives the promise of something greater just beyond, but so often ends in sadness, losing its identity in a desecrated place.

Upstream is splendidly doomed, splitting, getting smaller, becoming less, but holding out hope of an even more secret discovery, or the miracle of a mountain lake.

I prefer upstream.

The stream changes by microns every moment, while honoring the same imperatives that have moved it for thousands of years.

Have you ever explored a stream when you made a point of not checking the topo? The lines don't lie, except the egregious lie of omission.

It is a glorious thing to leave when it is still running strong, unfinished business for another day. Dream of the possibilities as you return to the joy of family and the necessity of that day job.  

Perhaps you can stay away from the map before you get a chance to return, but be warned, it is even harder than not checking your phone the moment you get reception.

To be your secret stream, it doesn't have to be a place where no other person goes. To imagine making that exclusive claim is arrogant presumption, a doctrine of discovery in microcosm.

It might even be recognized by many as special. To be your secret stream, it must simply be a place where you are the only one who has your personal experience there.

Because it's not only about the stream. It's about being open to seeing, if even for a moment, the spirit of such a place, and of the natural world that has defined our existence on this planet for so long.
There are no unsacred places
There are only sacred places
And places that have been desecrated

- Wendell Berry

 

The stream featured in this post is part of a very large parcel of land that is now protected after years and even decades of dedicated efforts. To anyone who protects lands that you care about - your work matters.

 

Originally posted to James Wells on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 09:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Backyard Science.

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