How We Change a River

I have seen this fascinating little documentary going around online, about how wolves changed the ecosystems and even the shape of the river beds in Yellowstone National Park when they were re-introduced. They ate deer, who stopped eating all the plants, which allowed trees to grow, which brought in more rodents, which attracted more hawks, etc. You know the drill. The wolves are at the top of the food chain in Yellowstone, along with the bears. A new (old) predator in the territory changes the way everybody else behaves.

So I went for a long walk on the river on Monday with two friends and their baby. And I was thinking, did we change the river too? Sure we did. Of course we did. It would be ridiculous to think that we didn’t. We just have to look at the small stories – the petits recits – all around us.

For example, I am sure I stepped on about a thousand salmon roe in the river bed gravel while wading in my boots for a millisecond before I remembered I shouldn’t be doing that. Sorry, salmon-babies. Also, I picked up an empty beer can and brought it home to the recycling, hopefully saving it from a long, rusty ride downstream.

Meanwhile, my daughter crawled around on the beach – “her name is Rio and she dances on the sand…” –  and we both got some much needed outside time.  I love living on a river.

How did you change your ecosystem today?


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