One essay caught my attention, the evening before leaving for the Southeast Riverkeeper Retreat in Georgia, as he defined a river "as a body of water flowing through land. It's starting place is called its source. The place where it ends is called its mouth. Its sides are called its banks." The next day I was sitting alongside water protectors of the rivers in the southeast dedicated to protecting their waters and the lands they flowed through.
A book Debbie Clark Seeley recommended went with me out on the walking trails to get the feel of one of the southern states. The book was The Slaves' War, the Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves, written by Andrew Ward. Walking in the forested area then through what would be a swamp, now completely dry after their 4th year of drought, where only a few weeks ago Hurricane Mathew had delivered devastating floods in other parts of the south. Both examples of extreme climate change.
Slaves had been property and the owners wanted to keep them, since they were their ticket to wealth. They had great investments in the slaves they owned. Some slave holders took their slaves and "refugeed them" to hide them from freedom during the Civil War and they got meaner as they went further south and west with them. Over a million soldiers died during that struggle. The fossil fuel industry now, is invested and does not want to lose and are destroying the whole earth to keep making profits even as the price of oil has decreased with all the overproduction.
Oklahoma has continued to produce oil and gas creating more waste water and injecting that water has resulted in the man-made earthquakes we have all been experiencing.
We learned about the Cushing, OK oil spill while at the retreat from another Riverkeeper. Over 2 million gallons of crude oil spilled out of the Seaway pipeline, an old pipeline owned by the same company building the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota where water protectors at Standing Rock are risking their lives to stop. Seaway is 500 miles long from Cushing to the Gulf, Enterprise owns the section that leaked. It carries 50,000 barrels a day and it spilled it's whole load last Sunday night and by Tuesday the media was saying little about it while their emergency manager said, "it just happens sometimes."
All Pipelines leak, it is just a matter of time. The Galveston Baykeeper found when inspecting old pipeline in a former occupation a remarkable thing: the old pipes had totally dissolved and the oil was simply flowing through the space the pipe had created, running through the harden clay. Really.
We learned this week that sixty percent of the animals with vertebrates have gone extinct on this earth since 1970. We have vertebrates, and it seems no heart for any other living creatures, and not so much for our fellow humans.
The phrase by Norman Maclean "A river runs through it" inspired the motto for this year's Tar Creek Conference: A Creek Runs Through It. That phrase is lifted from the paragraph below:
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's
great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless
raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
What sort of life are we leaving for those who may follow us? I too am haunted by water and what we are doing to what's left of it. The water protectors at Standing Rock are doing the right thing. The company and the industry have a legacy of ruined land and ruined water. When watching how they are being treated I see the faces of slaveholders desperate to stop change.
Water is life and won't we all be sorry when the well runs dry?
Respectfully submitted ~ Rebecca Jim