Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Watching the river flow

The Elwha

The Elwha River flows down from the Olympic Mountains in northwest Washington state.  The story of this river is one of tragedy and now, perhaps, triumph.  One hundred years ago the Elwha was dammed which provided power to communities downstream but eliminated the great runs of Salmon that were the lifeblood of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.  The National Park Service in cooperation with the tribe has just completed the largest dam removal project in history, and as of spring 2014, the Elwha is once again running free.  Adult salmon have already been seen above the previous location of the upper dam.  


For me, the ongoing story of the Elwha feels like hope.  It's all about renewal.  We all seem to use metaphors to describe the harsh difficulties and the dark side of illness.  It's a great weight or a dark tunnel or a battle against great odds.  But we need metaphors too, to guide us toward health and hope.  Whether it's moving into the (sun) light or seeing light at the end of the tunnel, we need to find a vision, an image or a place that moves us toward health.  Gardens, benevolent spirit animals, milagros (from Mexico), saints or seismic events all have healing power.  The return of the Elwha to a free flowing river is just a newspaper story, on one hand, or, on the other, a profound event that has been years in the making, a story about succeeding against all odds.  I am working to develop a heightened sense of awareness, of beauty, of life itself.  On my good days, the days when I succeed........
the laugh of my grandson, a chickadee eating my sunflowers gone to seed, a late season humming bird sipping from the tiny flowers of the big old rosemary bush in my messy garden, they all move me.  I notice and feel a tiny bit better for it.


Last week we took a short trip to visit the Elwha.  We visited the River itself where I got to dip my feet, feel the flow of its cold water and squish the mud between my toes.  I listened to the hollow sound of water over rocks and sucked in its vitality.

Then we stopped at the site of the lower dam and dam.

We drove down to the mouth of the River where it dumps into the salt water of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.  There we saw all the newly deposited silt in the form of beaches and fresh water ponds with a huge abundance of birds.

We finished off our Elwha adventure eating dinner with friends Jenny and Melissa.  They work for USGS (US Geological Survey) and are involved with a survey of the outflow of the river and the sampling of water as it comes down the mouth and flows into salt water.  They are courageous, passionate women who run boats and dive to collect scientific specimens.  Hearing their stories, the science and the daily challenges and rewards of their work filled me with admiration as well as a strange kind of confidence that we are all metaphorically, somehow, in good hands.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. Powerful metaphor for healing. Watching the river flow.

    I found this, too: