Spring Bird recently received some much needed TLC that required an excavator and laying new pipe. As a daughter who grew up watching Caterpillar Tractor's public demonstrations and stood in wheel wells that were double my size, I shouldn't have been shocked by the effectiveness of a little excavator. For the two years that Pat and I have been hacking down honeysuckle and buck thorn, digging fence post holes by hand, and cultivating earth that is more roots than dirt, I was completely impressed by the power and efficacy of the machine.
Before the workers even got started, Pat cleared weed trees from the future work zone, but the excavator still had to remove a few more. Not only did the tractor easily pluck them from their location, but it dug deep pits and trenches, obliterated the ground cover, and back-filled a layer of clay over the rich topsoil like frosting an earthen cake. This final task unearthed many stones that had been buried for who knows how long. As I collected them in my bucket I thought about the animals, insects, bacteria, fungi, plants, and hidden worlds that were displaced by the construction work. Our repairs were a natural disaster to our forestrial neighbors. I had an unsettling feeling, but I know that in time and with our own efforts, new plants will return creating environments for insects and animals to once again inhabit.
Before we could get to planting new ground cover, we had to manage the overflow water from the new pipe which now flowed in a new location at Spring Bird. We decided to dig a small retention pond to slow down its flow to the creek. During that process of excavation, I had many regrets of not utilizing the machine that had been parked at my house for a week. We then dug an overflow channel from the pond that leads to the creek. As I dumped the collected stones into their new home and watched the water level rise I thought again about how we participated in even more displacement --- of earth, water, insects, animals, etc. But, hopefully, we are also creating a place for new life to inhabit.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.