On Tuesday I went to the Nursery to meet up with Tyler to do some restoration hours. I was the only one who showed up that day, and even though I would have liked to be working with other people, I was enjoying working on my own. I was removing invasive grasses at the south side of VLSB, and all was going well until I suddenly got hurt. I felt something pop in my knee, and after a few moments of incredible pain, it felt like whatever moved in my knee went back in to place. After some minutes of Tyler and me trying to figure out what to do, I took a few tentative steps and it happened again. I fell to the ground and Tyler called The Loop to pick us up and take us to the Tang Center. There would be no more creek for me today.
I’m a film student, and apart from messing around in creeks when I was a little kid, catching tadpoles and things, I was never what you might call formally introduced to riparian ecosystems. I work at an art museum and a film archive. I’m an artsy-fartsy, indoors kind of gal. As such, I sometimes see things in terms of cinematic composition, how one could frame shots for maximum beauty and expression (don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this). When the golf cart came, Tyler walked over to explain, and I was sitting on the bank of the creek. Just beyond the cart, the coast live oak trees were dropping their leaves. There were so many falling, gently but insistently, against a splendid backdrop of autumn color. Tyler was framed nearly symmetrically by trees. The serendipity and loveliness of the moment took my breath away. As filmic compositions go, it was totally harmonious and almost looked staged. It was one of the greatest tiny little moments I’ve had at Cal and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
My perspective at that moment was unusual, low to the ground and at a slight diagonal. Had I
not been sitting so, I probably wouldn’t have noticed something so beautiful. And that, my friends, has been my experience of the Strawberry Creek Restoration DeCal in the proverbial nutshell. If I hadn’t taken this class, would I have noticed they were oak leaves falling? Hard to say. Probably not. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to use the word “riparian” in a sentence, mostly because I’d never heard it before the first class meeting. More to the point, being close to the creek, learning about it and helping it, has changed the way I see my environment. I’m more aware now of the interconnectedness of things: the roots supporting creek banks, the leaves that give food to the creatures that live in and around the water, and the water that nurtures those very plants. I’m always grateful for opportunities for a new perspective on things, and getting to know Strawberry Creek these past few months has been just that.