To restore: from the Old French, restorer, to renew, to rebuild.  As writers, we create or build the new: new words on paper, new characters the world has never seen, new worlds, even.  Our version of restoration is also revision: once we are underway with a work, we renew it and recreate it until it fits our vision.

To revise: from the Middle French, reviser, to see again, to look at again.

I’m thinking of restoration as a way to help shape our world to a vision worth having: one with vital arts, literature, environment, and community.

There are many things that can be restored.  Here is one: a valley creek whose bed and banks were long ago excavated and straightened.  Once a wild waterway, now a drainage ditch.  Last weekend  I joined other volunteers for the Sonoma Ecology Center to plant nearly 500 native shrubs and trees along Fryer Creek–renewing habitat for native birds, creating loci of carbon sequestration, digging in plants of varied texture and color.  Around twenty local volunteers plied the soil with dibble, rock bar, and gloved hand.  We stayed warm in the brisk morning as we broke ground and planted.

Planting Native Shrubs

After three quick hours of planting, we joined the creek’s neighbors for a potluck.  Sitting around card tables draped in colorful tablecloths, we warmed up with hot chili, garlic bread, and organic salad.  We took time to catch up and converse.  We glowed with a sense of accomplishment.

These are the days that inch their way into my writing, my characters, my dreams.  Restoration asks us to fully inhabit place and community–to vision a world we want to live in.

Restore or revise something this week, and enjoy the rewards.



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2 responses to “Restoration

  1. Jim Nuzzo

    Have just read your book, Reading Water. It struck a cord with me. I found it in the public library here in El Paso, TX (it’s a signed copy no less). I spent the first half of my life in Modesto and Oakdale, camping, swimming, hiking, tubing and fishing on the Stanislaus and the Tuolumne. I like El Paso and the desert, but I cannot shake my longing for fresh clear, cold, flowing Sierra Nevada waters. Your book was enjoyable to read.

    • Good to hear from you, Jim! I agree about the Sierra streams. They are like arteries of lifeblood to our longings–those ones entered into memory during those times you recall! Thanks for liking Reading Water–it’s enjoying its 10th anniversary this year!

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