I spent most of my day in the Chattahoochee National Forest yesterday. With the temperatures in the 90's it was a cool respite under shady greens with flickering sunlight dancing through the leaves. I took the forest road out to the fish hatchery and was blown away by the scope of the project. They are hatching our native Brook Trout, Brown Trout (a European native) and Rainbow Trout from out west. There were about 24 long pools of fish and a building with smaller pools for the tiny rainbows. Outside of the hatchery, you could find fish in the Toccoa river very easily, and of course, there were plenty of fishers there just pulling them out of the water constantly.
This hatchery is slated to be closed after 2012. The reason? The budget. The financial sector of this country has bankrupted the nation and while a tiny percent has made a fortune on top of their already obscene fortune through fraud and corruption, their debts must be paid. And so we lose the hatchery.
Driving back to Chickory through the Skeenah gap area I was on the verge of weeping at the beauty of the valleys, still green though we've had little rain. Fields had been cut and the hay was rolled dotting the landscape with their familiar cylindrical shape. The mountains, gentle and ancient, were very blue and the clouds bright and rising high until finally releasing the much needed water in the afternoon along with dime-sized hail. It was the first real rain I've seen in two weeks and it was the perfect endnote to a perfect day.
I can't believe I live here. Whatever I was doing before, I only thought I was living. Now I know what it is to be really alive and connected to the source of life. It is a privilege to live in a landscape that is still relatively wild and so breathtakingly beautiful. But it is fragile, just like the tiny fish, so it must never be taken for granted. Being present and awake in each moment is a discipline that must be cultivated and nurtured, so that I am worthy of this life.