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stirring the waters

Kneeling by the bank of the small river that ran behind her house through a public park, the old woman leaned over near the water surface and peered in thoughtfully. The water line had receded by close to 5 inches in the past 24 hours alone even though they had received quite a bit of rain that week. And the water that once flowed fast, crisp and clean, emerging from springs high in the mountains was now still, cloudy and laced with algae that also clung to the rocks drying in the summer sun. About a foot away, the woman noticed a small turtle sitting in the mud, looking quite forlorn and as he looked up at her, he cocked his head to the side quizzically, as if to say “what’s going on here”?

“I don’t know friend, let’s take a little walk and see what we can find.”

And with that, the woman slowly stood up, gingerly stretching her stiff joints. Walking upstream, she noticed that the water level problem was not unique to her little patch of river. Finally, she came to an area of the park that had been ignored for many years. There wasn’t a house on the hill above, just an empty, unattended lot. She looked around and noticed a tree stump, jagged at the top where the tree had splintered with scorch marks and patches of ashy white.

It appeared as though there had been a lightning strike here and the huge tree had fallen across the river, blocking the flow of water and creating a pool higher up the bank, overflowing the water into the park above.

Sighing with a twinge of frustration that this wasn’t going to be a quick fix, the old woman walked back to her house to call the city officials, notifying them of the problem. And like all good city officials, it took 4 more calls, a strongly worded letter and a visit to the mysterious “city clerk’s office” where she had to formally sign a complaint on an official form in triplicate to finally see a team of workers arrive to restore the proper flow of the river.

Afraid of disturbing the grounds of the surrounding park, the city left the heavy equipment behind and wisely opted for a less invasive approach of chainsaws and trucks. Never the less, the damage to the ground and foliage was quite extensive with all the foot traffic and vehicles driving in and out all day. Many of the animal inhabitants had left at the first sign of the workers to find a new and more quiet abode. But eventually, the chainsaws were silenced and the trucks drove away as the river was restored to it’s previous rushing glory.

The old woman stood by watching as the pieces of tree were hoisted out of the river. The sudden flow of free water caused a stirring of all manner of debris. The usually crystal clear water was suddenly tainted with pebbles and dirt, leaves, bug carcases and a variety of waste along with the occasional soda can tab, fast food straw, long lost grocery list and even a little toy dog.

She followed the new flow down to her patch of river and looked on with sadness realizing that the river here would never quite be the same. But as the silt settled and the water calmed, she began to see new sparkling rocks, rubbed clean by the friction and over time, she realized that when the water was agitated, it stirred up and transported old and long forgotten treasures that brought a newness to “her river”. Of course, along with it also came the trash and other debris that she had to clean up, but in the end, she felt revived by this change.

Kneeling down by the edge several days later, she noticed her little turtle friend who was happily wading in the now clear mountain water. Looking up at her he stretched his neck in a way that she was sure said “thank you.”

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  1. Paul — September 14, 2007 #

    watertastic :)

  2. sonja — September 16, 2007 #

    I meant to write this much earlier … but I’ve been distracted by my livingroom. I loved this parable … it’s really beautiful.

  3. Pingback - Subversive Influence » Blog Archive » Random Acts of Linkage #27 — September 22, 2007 #

    [...] “stirring the waters,” a parable from Makeesha Fisher. [...]

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