March 16th, 2009 | Wild Kingdom
I went on a lovely hike with Hol out in the woods yesterday. I was thinking about the idea of watersheds because I just read a poem by Gary Snyder called Watershed. He supposedly signs his emails with it because it’s his “address.”
North of the South Yuba River
Near the headwaters of Blind Shady Creek
In the trees at the high end of a bunchgrass meadow.
(I learned about this in the book I just reviewed for the New York Times Book Review. I can’t tell you yet what book it was, but my piece will be in the 3/29 issue.)
I’ve always been rather fond of Gary Snyder, ever since reading Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, in which Snyder is fictionalized as the wild mountain man zen poet Japhy Ryder who takes Jack and Allen Ginsburg hiking in the Sierras in the fifties, before people really did stuff like that, and Japhy was so free and alive, he took off his clothes and bounded up a mountain wearing nothing but a jockstrap.
I kept all my clothes on yesterday, and I did not bound up Camel’s Hump. But I got this pretty picture of it with its snowy white bald eagle head catching the afternoon sun.
I’ve been working on my own watershed address. So far all I’ve got is,
Two miles uphill from the Winooski River
Next to a seasonal stream
That feeds Duck Brook.
I just googled “watershed address” trying to find Snyder’s poem, and I got this actual EPA website which will locate your watershed. So you can find your watershed address too.
Here’s a little movie I shot yesterday of some of the snowmelt beginning its trip down to the Winooski–which lies between me and Camel’s Hump.
Holly’s a Snyder fan too, (hey, her Compost Maven blog has moved and gotten fancier) and coincidentally alluded to his work and watersheds on her Facebook page recently.
She was showing these new t-shirts she had made for her “compost local” campaign, and our friend Cathy Resmer commented “Wait, where else would you compost?” Holly explained,
Good question! Well, for starters you could send it away from your backyard or your garden. One could consider that non-local, even if you’re sending it to the Intervale which is in your watershed. You could even put it in your (gasp!) trash bag and send it to the landfill in Coventry. Or worse (shudder!).
For me, this message is about raising awareness (and look! it’s already working!) about the importance of composting as a local issue. Composting matters because it ties together all kinds of important natural cycles and connections between people and planet and brain synapses. Compost local is about putting myself in an ecosystem. It pinpoints me somewhere on the earth with a precise watershed address where I eat food that is grown in living topsoil underfoot that needs organic matter derived in part from my own table scraps.
I have pledged my allegiance to the soil and this is my clarion call, my love letter to dirt!
So there you go. Dirt, and water, which is perfect because it’s Mud Season here right now.