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The Creek

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It wasn’t easy to turn a trickling gash into a meandering creek. But with a lot of help from a friend, that’s what Andrew Lewis did. Here’s his Perspective.

This winter I fled the Twitter streams, personal information harvesting, and pump and dump news, seeking a less mediated world.

Over the years, a rill of water had cut a ravine through our property. I wanted to raise the water level and stop the cutting. It might be better to keep our topsoil and not have it wash out to the lagoon. The blackberry bramble and cut gave refuge to the bobcat, raccoon, deer and badger. But there are other complementary needs.

Water gives us life, and water does not come easily to California. It made sense to invite it to stay a while and help nurture our Gravensteins, our white figs and pear.

So I’ve spent months cutting back bramble and digging out blackberry. The creek has become my workout video. I spend mornings contemplating the flow of water and noticing what mushrooms grow in the leaf litter, what animal prints inscribe the mud.


My friend Abraham, a gardener from a small village in Mexico, volunteered to bring loads of debris that he had harvested from other sites; old redwood fencing, fill dirt, broken concrete, and most precious of all, gorgeous rust-mottled Sonoma field stones.

“It’s not junk,” he would tell me. “Where I come from it all would be used.” And it is: eventually deployed to hold the sandy banks, redirect streams of water, and buttress check dams.

The creek that now runs through Andrew Lewis' property.

What had once been a narrow band of water cutting a gash in the earth has become a meandering stream, cascading over rocks into successive pools. The water has slowed. And the water table has risen.

At dusk, the air fills with the cacophony of frogs.

Each time Abraham left I would thank him. Abraham and I come from different worlds, but this we have in common. Gazing at the creek he would smile. “I want,” he would say, “to make the world beautiful.”

With a Perspective, this is Andrew Lewis.

Andrew Lewis lives in Sebastopol and is working on a family memoir.

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