• author
    • Donald Sanders

    • March 20, 2015 in Columnists

    Creek wasn’t the way nature made it

    Debra, I just read your column about the Putah Creek “Nature Park,” and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. You are not only a beautiful specimen of a woman but you are pretty darn smart too. I’ll tell you why everything you say is like gospel to me. Your writing rings of truth and common sense.

    What you had to say in your column reminds me of stories I have heard about the early pioneer families that so brazenly moved into this area like a thousand years ago. I can’t remember what the guy’s name was but when he arrived at the shores of the Putah Creek he must have thought to himself, “Yeah, I can handle living in this place.”

    You see, the first thing, what’s-his-name, thought was, ‘This land, as it is now, is totally useless for anything.’ It was pitiful because the first night he spent here he had to use a rock for a pillow. It was apparent to him that this just wouldn’t do. Changes had to be made so he began making a list of things to do to make the creek livable.

    The first thing he did was kill all of those pesky Indians, Apache I think they were called. The  always ate with their fingers and didn’t use any napkins. Apparently all the Apache moved out to Cache Creek. They called it that because they didn’t know how to spell ‘Cash’ so from then until now it has always been called “Cache Creek.”

    Anyway, once, what’s–his–name got rid of the Apaches, he hired a bunch of people to start chopping down all of the trees. They used dynamite to blow up the stumps because why chop down the tree if you are going to leave the stump, right?

    What’s–his–name thought it was funny to give his workers a 3-second fuse and tell them it was a 10-second fuse. I’d have to admit that it had to be pretty funny when things blew up in their face. Anyway, once all the trees were gone, what’s–his–name could plant the trees he brought with him from wherever he was from — it don’t really matter where.

    Pretty soon their blackberries were everywhere and they were perfect for hiding all the garbage that what’s–his–name dumped into the creek. He brought in some Eucalyptus trees to make furniture and now they are everywhere along the creek. To make all the roads, what’s–his–name took all the gravel out of the creek, so the creek almost flowed uphill.

    The creek was like a gift from God, because everything you dumped into it would just disappear. They built a little dam so the kids could swim just downstream from where they built the sewage plant. which was right under the railroad bridge. If they saw a floater, the kids would throw them at each other. All them stinky animals moved downstream too after the storm drain was put in right where the swimming hole was. Everybody thought the chemical smell came from the bean soup.

    Anyway, what I’m getting at is the fact that our ancestors spent a lot of time and money to get the creek just like they wanted it and if it was good enough for them then it ought to be good enough for us. Now look at it! Everything has gone to pot!

    Debra, you were exactly right. I saw that damn otter too and some beaver, a lot of turkeys, and I’ve even seen a wildcat a couple of times too. Now the dam is gone so the water is too cold and clear to swim in and the animals are taking over.

    Everywhere there was a giant hole where the road gravel came from it’s been filled in so we have a flood plain. As a matter of fact they have made the damn creek just like it was when what’s–his–name first set eyes upon it. Well, all except for that little part that hasn’t been changed yet that you mentioned.

    There are still some blackberries and Eucalyptus trees there, so it won’t be long till their seeds will change everything back like the nature strip you love so much. To top all that off, the Apaches are coming back and buying up the whole damn creek.

    Now they won’t let me dump my garbage can off the railroad bridge anymore. What is this world coming to? Now, I have to lift my garbage can way up high to dump it over the little fence you mentioned. Why do they have to make it so hard on me?

    I’m gonna get those damn otters too! You see what it all boils down to is the fact that the creek you and I like is not the way nature made it. The creek we like was changed by a lot of hard labor over generations of our ancestors. There was a hell of a lot of dumping too so it was just right.

    Well, Geeze! I should have asked you to write this so it would sound more gooder.

    • It is true, the blackberries choked out much of the creek a few years back. And the eucalyptus, yes, they were thick. But the branches of those eucalyptus, used to tremble with birdsong – all gone. In the shade of those eucalyptus were once blankets of lupine and wildflowers… gone.
      And it is true, people used Putah Creek for a dump, and that was reprehensible. There should have been $1,000 fines imposed for dumping in the creek, and jail time on the second offense.
      And it is also true that the addition of the concrete dam also changed things, as did the construction of the Monticello Dam.
      It is also true that the creek is accessible to so many more people now. However, that could have still been done without tearing down the eucalyptus, which was teeming with life. And, it most certainly can continue to be accessible, just as it is now, without tearing down the last little wild part of the creek.
      Were it up to me, I’d prefer that they left the creek alone. Which doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all the people volunteering now to try and repair it, such as yourself. I just wish they hadn’t destroyed it in the first place.
      And…. you don’t need me to write anything… your writing is gooder than good. 🙂

      • I think all of this work was brought up over and over again in committee. Once the master plan has been adopted after years of discussion it is hard to deviate from the plan. I truly believe the creek will be everything you want and more but it is a long and laborious process. In the end, it will be more like it was before man came in and screwed it up. Personally, I am truly grateful that our community has chosen to invest in the health of our waterways. I know you are too so be patient and you will see an amazing transformation of Putah Creek. I am going to dedicate 10 hours of volunteer labor just for you because I know how hard you have worked behind the scenes for the overall health of our little town. When that is done I plan to do volunteer work at the creek for every citizen of Winters California that is unable to do it themselves. I will enjoy every minute of it – well, except for the ticks and poison oak – oh and the bees that seem to seek me out.

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