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Waterway extending from water retention reservoir

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We don’t have wilderness
here.
There’s not an inch
that hasn’t been disturbed,
impacted,
changed
by the tread of humans.
But there are places
on the farm
that I don’t go
regularly,
though cattle do.
I hadn’t been down south
around the water retention reservoir
since we’ve had intermittent
rains this summer and fall.
Venturing forth a few days ago,
I discovered that not only is the reservoir full,
waterways wind out from it,
into the pasture.
This is exciting to me;
unexpected water on the prairie
is rare.
It can help recharge
a depleting aquifer.
It draws and spawns
life.

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Six feet wide,
these waterways are already
developing a riparian area
of willows
in one section
and there is much evidence
of wildlife.
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Young Willows along the shoreline

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A Great Blue Heron
suddenly
rose up from the willows,
its wide wings flapping silently,
and emitting its loud, croaky call.
A large white crane
flew in, flapping,
landing softly,
then flapping and hopping
along the edge of the waterway
for a long time
before it lifted and flew east again.
I followed the waterway
and found evidence of its life
there—a crawdad skeleton,
crane feet
engraved in the mud
along the edge.

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I stayed a long time,
walking slowly,
looking,
taking in this amazing
natural evolution
of waterway building its way
through grass and prairie growth.

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As far as the waterways have reached into the prairie

Most of the time
I’m not aware of life here.
And now I’m aware
of my arrogance—
that just because I’m not aware
doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of life
happening.
I begin to wonder what this prairie
would look like
in five or ten years
without us—
the cows,
me.
Seems like
there’s more life—
or, certainly, different life—
where we aren’t.