Down the valley,above my parents home town,up a country road and into the woods is where my favorite place in the whole state of Oregon ,Butte Creek Falls.
I grew up along the trail to those falls.I know all of the plants,edible and not,the trees and living beasts that call this place home.Each thing like a member of my family,close and dear to me.
From the trail head the roar of the water is like a siren calling me home.Come this way the water will call,come sit by me for awhile,let things just float away,down the creek and far away.
The trees whisper and the birds call.Whispers and calls to come home again.
This place is my shrine,my temple,my resting place,a place to recharge and just be.It is a holy place in my heart.
Yesterday was my birthday and the single thing I wanted was a day at Butte Creek.We packed a picnic,invited two close friends and away we went.Down the valley,above my parents home town,up a country road and into the woods.
We came to the turn off and my heart was glad but what is this? Signs on the side of the road,saying there was logging going on? Surely they mean way up the road on the other side of the hills? We ignored the signs,like Woody Guthrie sang, "But on the other side...it didn't say nothing." We had seen caution signs before asking drivers to look out for logging trucks,no big deal.
Then we came to the dip in the road about a mile from the trail head and there across the road was a brand new bright orange gate.Locked tight with signs reminding people to stay out,things were dangerous ahead.
In that moment it was all more than I could take in or grasp.I was two weeks old the first time my parents took me up into those woods they are part of my being.The roots of all the green growing things entwine my heart.How could someone cut that with a big bright orange gate.
I am grieving and angry. I know what happens when they log,everything is cut not just the trees.What will happen to the little things that grow beneath the trees?The tiny dog tooth violets and their sunny yellow faces?The trilliums that only bloom every 7 years? The maiden hair ferns that are one of my favorites? And what about salamander,wood beaver,dipper bird,deer and maybe even the cave crickets under the falls?
Without the shade of the trees and their roots holding the soil on the bank of the creek what will happen to the water and its creatures? Will it become brown and muddy and full of death? The water will warm to the point nothing will live in it again.
That's the way the woods work.Cut one thing or take it all away and everything else will suffer too.It's the very beginning to the circle of life.
I want to go back soon.If today it had been just Chance,the boys and I, we would have gone but I didn't want to take our friends on that journey.I want to see what they are up to.How close will they cut.It's going to hurt me to the bone but this is something that is important.
Long ago when my Dad was just a young man and my Uncle was just a teenager they stumbled on these falls.My Uncle cut notches in the trees so they could find the road that was high up the hillside from the falls.My Dad went away to Vietnam and when he came home again he took my Mother and my Brother as babe in arms to see the falls.From the road they followed the notches towards the falls.My family stepped out of the brush onto a brand new road,cut since the last time 3 years before my Dad had been there.My Dad sat down and cried.
I have always understood my Dad's tears but now I know how they must have felt.I am going to have to tell my Dad about the gate.And then there will be more tears.
Every time we go to the falls I look for the notches my Uncle cut in the trees.As a child it was still easy enough to find them.As I grew taller so did the trees and it became harder and harder to see them.I wonder if a logger will notice them and wonder who cut them.
There are woods in stories and legends that are holy or haunted.Places no one dares to enter or do harm to.Places that spin you around until you are lost.I can only pray to the Universe that this place has soaked up my family's love for it to the point of becoming sacred land,that will spin those loggers,break their saws and fill their nights with night terrors.