"It's All One Earth"

Diana Totten, a descendent of the local Wintuns, feels that there is more to the series of slides currently collapsing across the North Coast than the large amounts of rain which fell in February and March. “Yesterday,” she said, “An old Indian guy stopped by the Dobbyn Creek slide.  He had lived here all his life.  He talked about something the Indians had always known–‘Not all the water comes from the sky.'”

What caused this series of events, he told  Totten was “the water that comes from the ground.”  Then he added “white man looks at what they can see.  The Indian always holds things sacred they can’t see.”

After contemplating this for awhile, Totten believes she understood what he meant. Bear Wallows Spring up near Watts Lake is near the top of a high mountain. “It is a sacred spring,” says Totten. Water flows ice cold out of it all year long even when other springs dry up.  “My father and [others] used to gather water from there. It tastes so pure.  That kind of water that flows [even as most springs dry up] comes from some place far away.  There’s pressure from somewhere else….This year’s record snowfall plus the high rainfall has filled the aquifers.  They are pressing from below on the ground.”   What is happening in other places is causing an echo here in the North Coast.  “Even the earthquakes in Japan cause minute shifts in our landscape,”  Totten believes. “It is all one earth,” she says.  What affects one place, affects another.

This is true not only of the landscape but of our society as a whole. Yesterday, the danger to the house at Dobbyn Creek appeared to lessen as water levels dropped.  Yet, in the late afternoon, the crew realized that “our lake was getting smaller.”  The slide was slowly moving from the west side of the former creek to the east.  In fact, trees leaning on the bottom of the slide stretched pleading limbs to their still standing brothers on the other side nearly touching in their desperation.

The county workers who have been charged with saving the county road have become passionate about the people’s home which is endangered.  They know that the landowners have spent their savings to pay an excavator to keep the Dobbyn Creek channel open.  Totten says everyone feels for the landowners.  “It’s hard to watch these kids…” she says. “Kristine brings us hot sandwiches–all of us.  Not just the people who are paid to save her home but the construction workers and the county workers who are trying to save the road.”

Totten says, “An emergency deal bonds you…Something that people think can’t be done and you all pull it off…It bonds you.” Everyone out there is working to save the home and the road.  They have done some amazing “seat of the pants engineering,” says Totten but they had to because,  “It’s all one earth… It’s all one earth.”

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31 comments

  • This is such a great story presented for us all through community journalism like I’ve never seen it. Thank you thank you, for doing and saying. Blessings be!

    Word on the Indian word. Out in Whale Gulch residents have said since the 60s that a geologist came through saying their ridgetop spring water was from the Sierra. That an acquifer passes thousands of feet under the sediments of the Central Valley, pressured by water accumulating thousands of feet up the Sierra, and pressures clean springs out here more than 200 miles away on the coast more than a thousand feet high. Lots of people have heard this story, and the Indian understanding is exactly the same.

    We’ve had record snowfalls in the Sierra this year, the deepest since at least 1983. A lot of people poo-poo a theory so magical and wondrous, but is it more wondrous than what’s happening off and on Blocksburg Road? There should be community Pulitzers for stories like this, they’re what language and love are for. Thanks again to everyone making the stories.

  • This is such a great story presented for us all through community journalism like I’ve never seen it. Thank you thank you, for doing and saying. Blessings be!

    Word on the Indian word. Out in Whale Gulch residents have said since the 60s that a geologist came through saying their ridgetop spring water was from the Sierra. That an acquifer passes thousands of feet under the sediments of the Central Valley, pressured by water accumulating thousands of feet up the Sierra, and pressures clean springs out here more than 200 miles away on the coast more than a thousand feet high. Lots of people have heard this story, and the Indian understanding is exactly the same.

    We’ve had record snowfalls in the Sierra this year, the deepest since at least 1983. A lot of people poo-poo a theory so magical and wondrous, but is it more wondrous than what’s happening off and on Blocksburg Road? There should be community Pulitzers for stories like this, they’re what language and love are for. Thanks again to everyone making the stories.

  • Diana is a wise woman.. listening to the old ones is key. Love the story .. thanks Kym.

  • Diana is a wise woman.. listening to the old ones is key. Love the story .. thanks Kym.

  • How long our well produces in the fall is always influenced by the snow pack in at least the Trinities, if not the Sierra’s. We live up Alderpoint Road a ways and it became evident after years of watching local rain patterns (not a lot of influence) that it’s the distant snow pack that fuels our 70 foot deep well.

  • So true, thanks for the reminder!

  • So true, thanks for the reminder!

  • everything is connected to everything else

  • everything is connected to everything else

  • Thank you. Diana’s story really captured my heart this morning.

  • Thank you. Diana’s story really captured my heart this morning.

  • Diana and the old Indian stories ring true. Many of us knew Andy Burgess, he was a well know water-witch. He always said that he could feel a strong aquifer that ran from east to west from Watts Lake, through his ranch in Zenia, which has a large enough spring to run a Pelton wheel generator that ran his ranch. From there it ran under the Dobynn slide, to North of Pratt Mountain where there is another major spring. Andy always wanted to follow the aquifer all the way through to wherever it went. I’m not sure if he ever did. But he had a strong feeling that the water came from the Sierras.

    Modern religion has taken much of the old Indian knowledge away from them. The Indian felt that knowledge and spirit came from the earth and the critters around them. I felt that spirit in Diana when she was elected as citizen of the year. She gave her appreciation speech and she talked about the “cricks” and the mountains. One of the things that impressed her was that she had stood on the top of Kings Peak and she was moved by the fact that it had grown 16” taller in her lifetime. Those are the kinds of things that are important to some of us.

  • Diana and the old Indian stories ring true. Many of us knew Andy Burgess, he was a well know water-witch. He always said that he could feel a strong aquifer that ran from east to west from Watts Lake, through his ranch in Zenia, which has a large enough spring to run a Pelton wheel generator that ran his ranch. From there it ran under the Dobynn slide, to North of Pratt Mountain where there is another major spring. Andy always wanted to follow the aquifer all the way through to wherever it went. I’m not sure if he ever did. But he had a strong feeling that the water came from the Sierras.

    Modern religion has taken much of the old Indian knowledge away from them. The Indian felt that knowledge and spirit came from the earth and the critters around them. I felt that spirit in Diana when she was elected as citizen of the year. She gave her appreciation speech and she talked about the “cricks” and the mountains. One of the things that impressed her was that she had stood on the top of Kings Peak and she was moved by the fact that it had grown 16” taller in her lifetime. Those are the kinds of things that are important to some of us.

  • Thank you, Diana, Kristine, neighbors, the ‘local boys,’ and County workers for helping all with their homes, flooding, food, and this emergency. Diana, thank you for sharing this wonderful story for us.

    Kym, great story! Another good example of how you’ve been using one’s quotes letting the story and words carry themselves (and a reminder to self). You’ve been doing this splendidly.

  • Thank you, Diana, Kristine, neighbors, the ‘local boys,’ and County workers for helping all with their homes, flooding, food, and this emergency. Diana, thank you for sharing this wonderful story for us.

    Kym, great story! Another good example of how you’ve been using one’s quotes letting the story and words carry themselves (and a reminder to self). You’ve been doing this splendidly.

  • Thanks to Diana for this… We go for that Bear Wallow spring water every year. That whole ridge, Grizzly, Coffee Pot and the Lassiks is a truly amazing place… and you can see Mount Shasta on a clear day. I have heard theories that the water comes from Shasta and the Trinities.
    I’m working on a great Wintu Coyote story by the 19th century linguist Jeremiah Curtin… It is a deep and beautiful tale of how Coyote made death. I’ll pass it along when I’m done.

  • Thanks to Diana for this… We go for that Bear Wallow spring water every year. That whole ridge, Grizzly, Coffee Pot and the Lassiks is a truly amazing place… and you can see Mount Shasta on a clear day. I have heard theories that the water comes from Shasta and the Trinities.
    I’m working on a great Wintu Coyote story by the 19th century linguist Jeremiah Curtin… It is a deep and beautiful tale of how Coyote made death. I’ll pass it along when I’m done.

  • Please do Ben, I love the old tales you bring back to life.

    Ernie, Thank you for enriching the story with that story about Andy Burgess. That was wonderful.

    Skippy–Thank you.

  • Please do Ben, I love the old tales you bring back to life.

    Ernie, Thank you for enriching the story with that story about Andy Burgess. That was wonderful.

    Skippy–Thank you.

  • Kym,
    Your photos of the the deer on the ridge and of the waterfall flow together wonderfully. The interdependence of all living beings surely can’t be denied and the stories of people and the dynamics of living in such a geologically young place bring about a lot of emotion for many of us. I find it interesting that most of the geologically young areas on the planet tend to be the most productive and fertile places and can usually support higher numbers of people despite their tendencies towards earthquakes, land slides and erupting volcanoes. I wonder if it’s places like this that nurture the high spirited people of the earth? People that are willing to embrace the gifts of fertility in light of potential disaster. I found a similar energy of beings on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. It’s the largest island on a freshwater lake in the world and was created by two large volcanoes. One lies dormant now and the other is active. The whole community of people living there has this volcano looming over them and could blow at any moment but the land is fertile and the bird song sure is sweet! I found myself being drawn to it’s people. Just like here.
    I have always appreciated James Lovelock’s theory of the Gaia hypothesis. I think he was a biochemist. His theory in a nutshell is, the earth is one self regulating organism–a whole being in itself. He presented that the geochemical processes that make life possible on earth are created by living organisms (microorganisms in soil, plants, algae, phytoplankton in the oceans,etc) rather than the inverse which was the previous theory. He was laughed at by the scientific community in the beginning when he presented his beliefs but now his theory has been embraced by even the most skeptical of scientists. The funny thing is that the native cultures always have embraced the same idea without the cold descriptions of science. The idea of the earth as our mother has been a timeless reality for the beings that have chosen to not see themselves as separate from the whole.
    Out of curiosity, I wanted to take the “place based” quiz on where the two photos were taken. The suptuous curve of a hill with the three deer looks like the south east facing bump above the Salmon Creek School? If so, I have seen the silhoutes of coyotes there as well as courting wild turkeys during sunset. Is the waterfall with the flowering currant near Debra’s place?
    Could we live in a more beautiful place? Thank you for all of your continued energy towards community.

    Kyle

  • Kym,
    Your photos of the the deer on the ridge and of the waterfall flow together wonderfully. The interdependence of all living beings surely can’t be denied and the stories of people and the dynamics of living in such a geologically young place bring about a lot of emotion for many of us. I find it interesting that most of the geologically young areas on the planet tend to be the most productive and fertile places and can usually support higher numbers of people despite their tendencies towards earthquakes, land slides and erupting volcanoes. I wonder if it’s places like this that nurture the high spirited people of the earth? People that are willing to embrace the gifts of fertility in light of potential disaster. I found a similar energy of beings on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. It’s the largest island on a freshwater lake in the world and was created by two large volcanoes. One lies dormant now and the other is active. The whole community of people living there has this volcano looming over them and could blow at any moment but the land is fertile and the bird song sure is sweet! I found myself being drawn to it’s people. Just like here.
    I have always appreciated James Lovelock’s theory of the Gaia hypothesis. I think he was a biochemist. His theory in a nutshell is, the earth is one self regulating organism–a whole being in itself. He presented that the geochemical processes that make life possible on earth are created by living organisms (microorganisms in soil, plants, algae, phytoplankton in the oceans,etc) rather than the inverse which was the previous theory. He was laughed at by the scientific community in the beginning when he presented his beliefs but now his theory has been embraced by even the most skeptical of scientists. The funny thing is that the native cultures always have embraced the same idea without the cold descriptions of science. The idea of the earth as our mother has been a timeless reality for the beings that have chosen to not see themselves as separate from the whole.
    Out of curiosity, I wanted to take the “place based” quiz on where the two photos were taken. The suptuous curve of a hill with the three deer looks like the south east facing bump above the Salmon Creek School? If so, I have seen the silhoutes of coyotes there as well as courting wild turkeys during sunset. Is the waterfall with the flowering currant near Debra’s place?
    Could we live in a more beautiful place? Thank you for all of your continued energy towards community.

    Kyle

  • Wow. A whole new way of looking at the spring at my place, the genesis of Mineral Creek, which runs cold and clear year round. In the long drought years, when everything is bone dry, it runs. I’m at 2500 feet. For years I’ve been trying to understand where this water comes from, so high, thinking the aquifer must run for miles. I like this, it has the ring of truth.

  • Wow. A whole new way of looking at the spring at my place, the genesis of Mineral Creek, which runs cold and clear year round. In the long drought years, when everything is bone dry, it runs. I’m at 2500 feet. For years I’ve been trying to understand where this water comes from, so high, thinking the aquifer must run for miles. I like this, it has the ring of truth.

  • Kyle, You win the Salmon Creek Local prize. You were right on target with the photos! I’m not surprised though.

    Jim, I hadn’t really thought about Mineral Creek that way but now I have a whole new respect for its beauty.

  • Kyle, You win the Salmon Creek Local prize. You were right on target with the photos! I’m not surprised though.

    Jim, I hadn’t really thought about Mineral Creek that way but now I have a whole new respect for its beauty.

  • Kym,

    I didn’t know if I was on the right blog. I’ll have to get used to the new urban look. I think it loaded up faster though. What do I get for the prize….a work day at the school? I headed out your way today and as always, I was blown away by the beauty. The lighting this afternoon was sensational and I just happened to see a male western bluebird hanging out on the maple you photographed on your most recent entry. The coming months of spring are going to be blissful with the saturated soils giving extended life to blooming wildflowers. Migrant song birds from Latin America are just starting to roll in now and soon enough, as the days warm up, we will be serenaded by those neotropical jewels. I can hardly wait!

    Kyle

  • Kym,

    I didn’t know if I was on the right blog. I’ll have to get used to the new urban look. I think it loaded up faster though. What do I get for the prize….a work day at the school? I headed out your way today and as always, I was blown away by the beauty. The lighting this afternoon was sensational and I just happened to see a male western bluebird hanging out on the maple you photographed on your most recent entry. The coming months of spring are going to be blissful with the saturated soils giving extended life to blooming wildflowers. Migrant song birds from Latin America are just starting to roll in now and soon enough, as the days warm up, we will be serenaded by those neotropical jewels. I can hardly wait!

    Kyle

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