"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.”