Mid-February, and I track through the snow toward a big spring in the hills. I’d follow the deer prints but it’s easier to step inside the wheel ruts of an ATV. I read new promise in the strengthening light. Grouse explode from briers and erect the short hairs on my neck. Oaks and hemlocks glisten in a ray of sun. A mile from the road, water issues from a steep bank 50 feet in length, gushing over moss and cress, collecting in a stream that ventures toward a river and its northward course to Lake Ontario.
Snow-bent weeds and deer scat. Green-leafed winter vegetation. Ah, the flown years. Oh, the great uncertainty of what’s to come. I stop like a snow flea at a frozen apple. I could leap with forest joy and say that all is good. There’s less erosion in these years. Water is cold and clear. I could hide my head, as well– afraid for a future of deregulation in environmental law. I could feel ashamed for our inability to act for the health of future generations, and the Earth itself.
Aldo Leopold said, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” He said it in A Sand County Almanac. He says it here, where the waters drop away, coalesce, and mingle with the downstream currents and their longing for a distant bay.