A Sonnet for the Housatonic
A blooming dogwood like a blushing bride
Shelters the shaded path to where I stand,
Where a lock and fence modestly hide
The stalwart shed where we serve at the river's command.
An iron hoe to pull up wandering sod,
A paint roller and bucket to color the bridge.
A patient eye to smooth the path clod by clod,
An open heart to receive the river's gift.
Those who came before us failed to understand,
Those who followed them began the work.
The mourning dove and blue jay guide our hand
To carve a sparkling blue from golden murk.
So much is fragile, weak and quickly lost
But we conserve and serve the River Walk.
I fell in love with trail work in rural Colorado. When I was about 10 years old, a group from our summer camp was loaned to a local organization to help build a stone staircase on a local trail near Colorado Springs. As a gaggle of children we were kept firmly away from the power tools, and honestly half the days were spent picking up worms and drinking the hot cocoa we accidentally made from brownie mix in the shade of the pines. But there was something that stuck with me about the calming, grounding experience of exerting yourself physically towards something that will help the community.
Fast forward to 2018, and starting college at Simon's Rock. At the time I wanted to study Latin, but the kernel that had been planted in my heart began to blossom as I got more involved in the campus farm, botany and mycology classes, and foraging wild plants around the area. I ended up getting my bachelor's degree in Political Ecology, with dreams of working in the national parks or doing science outreach with at-risk kids. Starting work with Greenagers this year has scratched that itch like nothing before. It makes me so happy every day to come to work and think, "Man, I love it here" and not "When do I get to go home?"
Interning at the Riverwalk has been especially rewarding. Setting my own hours and being my own manager is difficult - after a lifetime of school in structured classroom settings, having to learn to hold myself accountable is a skill I'm very glad I'm picking up now. The patience to pay attention to the details (the eroding edge of a path, the slippery leaves on a staircase), the strength to push myself to finish a job even when it's physically challenging, and the deep sense of respect for the way the river carries our entire ecosystem on its metaphorical back - these are lessons you can't learn from a textbook. I am so happy to be learning them now.
Kaspar Wilder, they/them, 21 years old - Riverwalk Intern.