The Guest Book by Ashleigh Tremere
We haven’t been to the creek since early spring. Summer is our busiest time, but I woke with the urge to go. The morning held perfect weather for heading down the open fields. A nice strong breeze, rolling clouds and scattered, warm sunshine.
When we made it to our spot, the place where the spring emerges from the Earth, still existing despite the fields that have filled and tilled up to it for years now. I’m sure that at one point the waters started running at least 100 yards or more sooner, the plants that remain paint that story for anyone who knows how to look at it. But where it emerges now is where we always set up.
The spring becomes the creek, becomes the Hillsborough river. It’s an intertidal place full of life.
Today the jewel weed is blooming, squirrels are chattering, dragonflies dart and six different kinds of birds are singing a chorus. The kids draw and read, build boats out of leaves and put their feet in the cool waters. The wind moves the clouds and the trees carry its song.
We shift our blanket up the bank as the tide slowly rises to meet us. We are in no rush to leave. The creek is not a place we go to rush. The creek is a space for lingering, for admiring, for solitude. It’s a nostalgic escape for me, I grew up surrounded by forest, with little creeks and streams to follow. Taking my family and their friends there pulls at the core strings of my being and I hope that those notes build melodies in their memory to carry too.
But then I notice the forest’s silence and there’s a strange taste in the air. Time to go I think. When we break from the canopy’s shelter, my suspicion is confirmed; the potato fields are being sprayed with fungicide… again.
The kids know I don’t let them out of the house while it’s happening, I call them inside and close all the windows or we jump in the car like we are fleeing the scene of some crime we didn’t mean to witness.
I don’t blame the farmers, I blame the system that’s been created around them. A system that binds them. Farmers are incredible really. If you’ve ever lived near one, you’d see for yourself the extent of their endurance and passion. I see them. I’m thankful for them.
But I feel angry. It shouldn’t be happening with the wind at these speeds. Yet I have no choice, no say about what comes right to our backyard and within the reach of ‘our spot.’
We head across the neighbours field instead. He’s been letting his fields heal, he told me they needed the rest. Little conciliation as the wind carries that taste. The girls bike ahead and I pull my son in the wagon, encouraging my dog that her old little legs can make it back without another break.
My head hurts now and I wonder what else has been lost in the spray, beside a day carved out in the creeks solitude.
I wish I could steward more of this land that surrounds us. I’d plant more trees in winding paths, I’d tell all the neighbours children to go run and build forts—to seek out the creek and watch the tadpoles become frogs. I’d linger and admire and the air would taste only of cool, damp earth and tides. Maybe someday I will have the say, the choice to let a piece of land I love heal.