There’s a place called Paradise… Paradise Creek. Along its banks the trees are tall. The water is cool. Sunlight visits in dappled spots on the forest floor. Woodpeckers tap messages from the treetops. Lots of woodpeckers: Pileated, Hairy, sapsuckers.
Snowmelt feeds the creek and shade from old growth keeps it icy on its trip to this bottomland strip. Tree fall fortifies log jams and seasonal freshets shrug themselves into gravel bars. Backwater pools become the looking-glass into the aquatic realm’s wonderland. Shadows bellow from the giant grand fir (Abies grandis), Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) stretching across the creek bed, mixing with red alders’ shadows (Alnus rubra) at midstream.
The cast off leaves of the vine maple (Acer circinatum) suspend themselves over the still water, acting weightless yet growing heavier as they saturate with moisture. Slowly decomposing to feed the aquatic invertebrates, that in turn feed the wild steelhead fingerlings, the leaves’ fibers thin to transparency as they fade into their liquid matrix.
Oh, what a beautiful way to be: born all bright and green deep in the woods, brewing light and water into maple-sustaining sweets through the gift of chlorophyll, then collapsing, exhausted, into a cool mountain stream, and dying into the life of the creek.