A meadow as sanctuary

Sep 28, 2020
Read a guest blog post by Indian Ford Meadow Preserve neighbor and long time Land Trust supporter Pamela Burry as she reflects on the comfort that can be found in even the smallest of meadows.

By Pamela Burry

This year, I find myself living in a small green house on the edge of the Meadow.

Out the south-facing windows, and beyond my deck, I can see the length of the Meadow, and the bend in Indian Ford Creek, and the riparian willow, and the aspens beyond.  

It has been a year unlike any other, one of despair and heartbreak, and the growing prospect of unimaginable damage to our bodies and our souls, and to the land. 

Many of us have lived with the conviction that protection of our wild spaces is essential. We have been guided by the principle, seared in our minds, by Wallace Stegner, that if we ever let our wild spaces become destroyed, “Something will have gone out of us as a people....”

With the environmental rollbacks thus far executed by this administration, Stegner’s words are a warning and a prayer. This year, the Meadow has become a sanctuary. 

Since the smoke has lifted, fall has arrived. The grasses in the Meadow are turning; the wild turkeys are easily visible; the same coyote occasionally stands not far from my deck and stares at me while I write; the doe and her fawn threaten to eat my few remaining perennials; the shadow of the resident red tail hawk in flight always gives me a start. 

Stegner was referring to wilderness, whose value was immeasurable to the human spirit even if all one could do was “...drive to its edge and look in.” 

The Meadow is not untamed wilderness. It is not a forest. It is not even a secret picnic spot off a forest service road. This Meadow is encircled by houses. They are tucked in the trees directly across from me, and there are many more on the south end, clustered in little neighborhoods.  

Ashley Lowery and Pamela Burry smile for a photo during a planting. Photo: Land Trust.
Ashley Lowery and Pamela Burry smile for a photo during a planting. Photo: Land Trust.
There is a story in the community of the Land Trust, about friends, many years ago, going out for a beer and deciding to come up with a plan to save the Meadow from development. Now, decades later, I look out my window and say: Look what you’ve done! Could you have ever imagined by preserving this relatively small bit of beautiful land you were in fact supporting the survival of its neighboring community, body and soul, during a year of ongoing threat, coming in from many directions? 

The Meadow is more intimate than a wilderness, closer to the bone, a comfort, a protector, a reminder that despite the terrible odds, the fight to conserve beauty is worth the effort and the uncertainty, and it is even worth the agony of possible loss, because the future payoff of preserving that beauty will radiate in ways you never could have guessed. 

Soon the aspen leaves, directly opposite me, will fall, and the houses along the perimeter will be visible. Across the meadow grasses and beyond the creek, their lights will glow yellow at night. I will sense the families living in those houses. The couples. The people living alone. As fall turns to winter, we all will face another lockdown. People will shelter and isolate. We have endured one phase of the virus and its reckless handling; another phase awaits. 

The Meadow is our comfort. It says: here, nothing can be harmed; it cannot be lied to or corrupted or stolen. We, who live at its circumference, are fortified by its endurance, by its ability to simply exist.

If they could see me, I’d stand out on my deck and wave to those people living across the Meadow. A big wave, both arms up, a collective way of giving thanks. 


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