The Waterfall

Anne Putnam, October, 2013

Among the jumbled slabs of red sandstone at the waterfall’s base, the skinny peewee redhead is engrossed in the silt mud, waterbugs, and tiny poolside plants. She licks the wet stone and catches delicious falling water in her upturned mouth.

Clambering up the streamside margin, she side-steps along the narrow ledge to hunker behind the water curtain, remembering how this magic hideaway feels when it is sparkling ice. Later she is above the falls catching fish by hand and risking quick steps across the slimy green creek as close to the edge as she dares.

Below, the original gravity-flow pipeline brought water to faucets for household use – roiling red in spring, green filamented in summer, crystal cold in winter. A new pipeline provided seasonal water for ewes in the lambing shed. Ditches delivered water to orchards and vegetable gardens. Years before, the secured water rights also fed Granddad’s ingenious electric light plant. Continuing more than a century, utilization and maintenance have been the owners’ personal and legal responsibilities. The precious Falls Creek waterfall seemed indomitable.

But no, my gut wrenches as I acknowledge the present truth that the waterfall is now but a damp scar on the rock. I look away when I drive by. Water lawyers and plentiful dollars have diverted the stream above – too many people demanding too much from the fragile creek. Years pass, the waterfall has died. And yet …

… joyfully reprieved, the waterfall is again cascading as the lake is drained in preparation for dam repair. I visit the waterfall and drink in its spiritual song. The indomitable waterfall has returned, if only temporarily.