Recently, while visiting the Sunriver Nature Center, I was inspired to re-print a poem I found in a book called Camp Talk, by: Russ Baehr (published in 1977) about Ponderosa. As many of you may know, Ponderosa trees were once heavily logged in Sunriver, thus there are few left and I wanted to pay a bit of homage.
In addition, it is important to me to acknowledge the massive efforts made by the Sunriver Nature Center to promote conservation in the high desert. There are countless efforts hosted by this community resource, none more important than the seasonal employees like Austin Buskohl, who work tirelessly through the summer hosting natural resource education opportunities.
In 1520 I was born
Beneath some rotting leaves;
A thousand generations back
Some chipmunk helped conceive
My life, by quaint device
Of being greedy, pine cone mad.
He nor his children knew my place
When just a forest tad.
I did what was my power to do.
I grew, and cast off sons,
And shed dead limbs, my flanks kept clean
Beside my river’s run.
I built veneer of thin-layered soil
To clothe the malipai.
The sterile beds of lava must
Hard to the earth’s core lie.
Fires, lightning, wind, and drouth
Left scars that killed my mates.
With troubled healing, still I grew
As God predestinates.
My times were not the times you knew,
My cries were not yours.
But time and circumstances had traced
A one when we’d concur.
My spirit slept in solitude,
Four centuries or so.
The peace of time, man laborless,
Built the best world I knew.
Close by my river, men came by
And liked my company.
Unpainted shack and rag house, too,
Were pitched beneath my knee.
Saw, and snoose, and steel-whipped line
Churned dust and smeared the snow.
Death rattles echoed from Butte tops;
Men saw our pitch blood flow.
But they moved on, and still I stood,
Saved by a boundried need.
The years marched too, with wars of men.
My land had gained a deed.
A deed and title from the men
Who now so lately came.
Four centuries of time I stood
Upon this land they claim.
Possessive monkeys claim this earth,
With all that clings to it.
A pretty boundary here and there
Gives power, bit by bit.
There was no change in ’64
Except my land lay pared
‘Till half an acre held my roots
That sickly elms now shared.
A foreign bush replaced by last
Of manzanita now.
And as a couple stood and stared,
A shudder shook my boughs.
An arrogance protruded from
His belly thrust straight out.
Stakes were moved and re-set by
A lady with a pout.
My crisis now was blossoming;
My span was not yet lived.
My Maker planned a hundred more.
He must the two forgive.
A snarl of sound, a smear of smoke,
My owners feel they must
Make room for shrubs and steel and stone.
Now will I turn to dust.
I’ll write the monarch’s epitaph;
He in his death throes lay.
“So few who know they do not own
What they poses today.”
To find out more about what you can do to contribute to Pondarosa re-planting, contact Lee Stevenson who heads up Project Ponderosa.