“To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven…A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 “There is no new thing under the sun,” says the preacher. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Like Octopus tentacles heading in every direction, the sloughs and bayous of the Sacramento Delta bisect the land. An otherworldly place of ancient lore and pioneer spirit where water snakes through rich farm soil. We take the sinuous curves of the road in search of Snug Harbor.
There are stories here to be excavated like the miners churned over the earth in the mountains. But I do not have time to dig into the minds of my companions. We are here on a retreat of medical and pharmacy students. Tailings of worn out boats to the dilapidated barns reveal the land has been well used. A place of contrasts, where at one bend of the road the bottom soil seems dry and desiccated then the tarmac curves and wineries appear with rose bushes decorating the ends of grape rows like a flower on a Derby hat. The pears have been harvested but a few hang like Christmas ornaments from the stretching branches.
The sweetness of ripe grapes and pears perfumes the air with the delicate touch of a wise vintner. Brown rows of freshly turned soil wait the farmer’s hand. Planting may never come. The water is held hostage by people who have never turned the soil, who studied farming at an obscure university where sweat equity is throwing a ball through a hoop.
It is a familiar battle in the west. Water rights are mixed into a poisonous drink where peace is destroyed. Computer savvy politicians with men from Southern California and men who rise with the sun are the combatants. Those blessed to see creation at dawn and feed their family with their produce are tongue tied by the lawyers in power. As roads are squeezed into one lane by ‘repairs’, ferry’s halted, and bridges ‘under inspection and closed’, people lose hope.
The sun glints on the waves.
Salmon hide in the overhanging willows.
In a place where water laps the tree shrouded banks,
Souls are restored.
It is worth protecting,
This place of yesterday.