by Joseph Grant
In retrospect, the great flood that swept through the valley nearly a century ago must have been terrifying, thought Ethan as he scratched his weathered, gray whiskered cheek and ambled over the parched brush that crunched beneath his boots as he examined the land for any evidence of the cataclysm that came in the night and swept people out of their beds and homes, drowning the lucky ones, but allowing the less fortunate to survive with the dreadful memory of loved ones lost and all the while holding onto the fear that always resurfaced with the advent of each falling drop of rain. As a result, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built two years later, ensuring that such a catastrophe would never again befall the people anywhere in the whole of the 90-mile wide county, but in the process, it smothered many of the natural wetlands and choked off the water supply vital to the once countless beautiful rivers, one in which, as a member of the California Wildlife Preservation Committee, Ethan was standing, the water currently trickling at barely the ankle level, a sad visage of its former self. It had taken the voice of one, a petition of signatures in the hundreds of thousands and a ballot to pass, but in the end it was pushed through county legislature with little to no resistance or protest, as anyone with even a remote memory of that horrendous night were now eking out their last days, oblivious to anything but the flood of atrocious daytime television, if, anything at all. Only half a year had passed, a miracle by bureaucratic standards, but a blink in ecological tenure that Evan stood on the banks of the sinuous new river, no longer nourished by the Aqueduct, which would have been ironic, but in an even more paradoxical twist, by a new water system built to circumvent the now-antiquated and underfed Aqueduct. Within a few years time, the entire area would experience an unlimited environmental renaissance, starting with trout, pike, perch and largemouth bass being reintroduced to the eco-system, which would bring other aquatic life such as frogs, salamanders, snakes, turtles and insects for the fish and birds like the starling, finch, sparrow to pick at the fallen seeds that the scurrying field mice and rabbits would drop in the outer lying grass and sediment, as well as the deer, elk and hawk, which as a result would spark the growth of wild flowers, underbrush, sage and cedar trees beside the newly planted forest of future evergreen put down in the past few months by the Parks Department. Where man had failed his fellow man by building a dam that withstood every rainy night but one, all that it took was a lone voice in the wilderness for man to reinvent himself and rediscover the sanctuary in the cathedral of the pine, the fir and the spruce and as man paddled along in a canoe once again as he had for centuries and marveled at the beauty and the serenity of nature all around him, it was truly a river reborn.
Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is a 6S All-Star and the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.