Wide Open Words – October, 2016 – It is Up to Us!

dscn1167 It is up to Us!
by Alan Clarke…………..

Forty years in the city. That is a long time. Long enough to forget about the sound of wind blowing through the forest…to forget what a fox looks like…to forget the glory of a sunrise…to forget the sweet, heavy scent of pine trees in the hot sun. My mother-in-law has come from the city to stay with us a while. Now she is remembering.

She sees the turkeys strutting up the hill, pointing with joy on her face. She calls out wordlessly to the deer pacing out of the scrub oak. Sitting out back, she is suddenly face-to-face with a furry…a…a…What is this being? I show her pictures in a guidebook—ah, that is right, a fox. A young bear scampers across the road as she is driving out with my wife one morning. Remembering. Remembering. These creatures are not in the city.

I catch my mother-in-law sitting on the bed, gazing out the back window at the flowers and Douglas firs on the hillside. Other times, I find her standing on the front deck, gazing across the valley at the red rocks, the forested mountains, the buttes. She spends many hours gazing out at the natural wonders around us. Remembering. Remembering. The city used to be like this, but no longer.

There are still places that have not forgotten. Where the wild things still roam. Where the views are dominated not by dwellings and businesses, billboards and traffic lights, but by the primordial. So close to the city. Yet not the city. How can these places resist, stand up, to the relentless spread of mankind’s creations? Will there soon be nothing to see, to remember? Or will my mother-in-law’s great, great grandchildren still be able to see these sights she is seeing? Yes, yes! There is a way. It is up to us.


About the Author:  Alan Clarke grew up wandering the fields and forests of upstate New York. He received a B.S. from Duke University and a M.S. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, both in Civil Engineering. Professionally, he works as an aerospace engineer, helping to ensure success for a wide variety of satellite and launch vehicle missions. Alan is a Life Member of The Nature Conservancy. Since 2000, he has lived in Perry Park, Douglas County. A favorite past-time is hiking the high mountains with his daughter.