By Jeannie Patton, The Nature Conservancy
The little creek a half mile from my back porch has saved my sanity for years.
A small footpath parallels Coal Creek near my home in Lafayette, Colorado. There’s not much to the creek– born at 9,000 feet above sea level, it meanders through pine and spruce forest, across grasslands and through farm land, through two towns, and ends up in the South Platte River northwest of Denver.
When miners discovered seams of carbon along the creek’s course, it was nearly doomed. 1859 through 1956 were tough years; “manhandled” is an understatement. Yet the creek survived and is recovering nicely thanks to protected space rules and caring neighbors.
For years, I’ve walked a five-mile loop that leads to the next town over, usually stopping half way at Vic’s Coffee Shop to relax with a cup on the patio where the creek and path part ways.
I love this path & little creek, but realize that I’ve taken it for granted.
On my last coffee break, I thought of what Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday wrote in The Way to Rainy Mountain:
“Once in our lives we ought to concentrate our minds upon the Remembered Earth. We ought to give ourselves up to a particular landscape in our experience, to look at it from as many angles as we can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. We ought to imagine that we touch it with our hands at every season and listen to the sounds that are made upon it.”
I returned home, downloaded The Nature Conservancy’s “Nature Treasure Hunt” (primer for four to seven year olds), printed out the Treasure Hunt checklist and returned to the creek. Like they say, begin simply, one foot in front of the other.