TABLE OF CONTENTS
Welcome to John Griffith
Stopping Global Warming
and Saving the Eel River
Citizens Monitoring the Eel
Impressions of the Eel River
The Van Duzen Watershed Plan
Train Whistling in the Wind
A Tale from India
Letter from SCWA to Santa Rosa
Review When the Rivers Run Dry
A photo Tour of the East Rim
A Directory of Our Supporters
A Tale from India
A long, long time ago the old man in the sky, name of Sun, fell in love with the woman named Ocean, and straightaway made love to her, and, for a time, that was fine. But in his gung-ho solar affection Sun kept staring, staring, staring at her lovely blue-green body before and after and during their love-making till she began to feel transparent, sunburnt, over-exposed—and this was not so fine: Ocean, like a human, was made almost entirely of water, and so like a human she shied from such bald, brilliant adoration. But there wasn’t much she could do, so she tolerated his hot gaze. Then she bore him children—and he beamed so brightly that they were blinded at birth! After the fifth child—all daughters, all blind—Ocean had had enough. She gathered her daughters around her. She changed them into clouds. She said to them, “Help me. Hide me from your father!”
The five daughters did their best. It even worked for a time, with Ocean looking very like the planet Venus swathed in a thick layer of cloud. Sun tried to brazen his way past the daughters, but all that heat and light only fattened them up. So he called on his brother, Wind, and Wind got mixed up in the affair by blowing the cloud-daughters inland. Ocean saw what Wind was doing and kept changing more daughters into cloud, but she couldn’t keep herself covered.
That’s when it became plain that she had made a big mistake. If she had been lovely naked, she was ravishing now, for now she was garbed in billowing cotton robes and thin veils of swirling mist, and at her dawn and sundown borders these garments flamed scarlet, auburn, pink; and all day long the robes and veils fluttered and slipped away from different parts of her body so that poor Sun would see a bare shoulder here, a naked breast there, a pale throat up here, a smooth thigh down there, so that now he was constantly aroused. And constantly gratified—for now he made love to her without ceasing, moving gently across her undulating body as the planet spun…
Ocean got used to it. She realized in time that her daughters were no less beautiful from their blindness, and she came to see that the sun was a skillful and prolific, if tediously brilliant, lover. And she gratified her dark, restless side by keeping a little flirtation going with Moon on the sly. (Sun got wind of this, but didn’t mind figuring what good looks old Moon had were borrowed from him.)
As for the five blind daughters (their names were Ice, Snow, Fog, Rain and Dew), Wind did his job well: he blew Snow to the distant mountains, Ice to the highest, coldest places, Fog to the headlands, swamps and river valleys. Rain to the ends of the earth, and little Dew right down into the dust itself. But the five daughters were simple-hearted, and they loved Ocean very much: their only desire was to do her bidding, and her bidding, as far as they knew, was to shield her from Sun. So as soon as they touched the earth they began trying to return to her. Being blind, they couldn’t tell north from south or east from west, but they could feel the difference between up and down. Knowing only that Ocean lay somewhere below the, they returned into water and began to grope their way downwards.
Since they couldn’t see where they were going, they brushed against or crashed into just about every plant and creature on the face of the planet. The plants and creatures grew accustomed to them, and learned to stay away from the places where the daughters ran fast and strong; they became fond of their soft, yielding, almost apologetic touch — so fond that in time no plant or creature could live without that touch. But this meant nothing to the daughters: seeing nothing, they were distracted by nothing. They moved on downward with the relentlessness of their father, merging in the valleys and canyons, gaining power, speed and surety, unwittingly benefiting every least plant and creature as they won their way back to the sea.
from the book The River Why by David James Duncan 1983, Sierra Club Press.
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