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  • Writer's pictureAnna K Young

Creeks. Kinship. Connections.

Updated: 4 days ago

If we more thoroughly understood the kinship between everything around us, how would that change our relationships with the world?

Is Enduring Necessary? found images, Dark Divide Pale Creek, Mount Tabor sumac black, colored pencils, iron oxide, thread, found paper, and synthetic pigments on paper, 2020. Artist: Daniela Molnar

On a bright but cloudy January morning, I go out with the intent of quiet observation. No headphones, no keys, no wallet, no phone or cafe punch cards. Down the road from my house, draped with apple trees and dormant lilac bushes. Cars zip over the busiest crossroads in town, as per usual. I find myself striving toward a goal: get to the creek.

This “need to get things done now” attitude plagues our culture. We want to win; kinship comes second to getting ahead. In the worldview I’ve grown up with, “being” is just shorthand for “being lazy.”

So even after high-stepping through the tall grass to the banks of Missouri Flat Creek, and finding a flat boulder to sit on, I’m still just waiting to check “observe nature” off my list.

My fingers drum against the sedimentary stone beneath me. The creek ambles idly over rocks and fallen branches. I put my chin on my hand and watch the water slide under the bridge, below the street, onward. It meets up with a river at some point, which meets up with the currents of the Pacific, creating a perilous sandbar. In another way, it meets up with the water cycle, the creek becoming the nightly Pullman fog that morphs into rain one day, frost the next.

So what makes it Missouri Flat Creek? For some reason, this line of thinking needles me with frustration. Isn’t it just a narrow section of river, a freshwater arm of the ocean? In fact, aren’t all the oceans just one big super-ocean? And the super-ocean, isn’t it just a thunderstorm waiting to happen?

On the way here, I took a shortcut through an alley, the many potholes dotting the asphalt filled with water. Are those puddles just part of the river?

The idea of interconnectedness through water, through the earth, isn’t anything new, but in this moment it strikes me in a way I haven’t felt before. The scratchy surface of the rock electrifies my fingertips. The sands that made this rock, formed under pressure, are also connected infinitely to the silt at the bottom of the creek, the sand on every beach, even the asphalt and its potholes.

For someone so obsessed with goals and categorization, I start to wonder if these artificial groupings create more boundaries than they cross. If we more thoroughly understood the kinship between everything around us, how would that change our relationships with the world? With each other? Would we feel isolation as intensely as many of us did in the past two years?

Daniela Molnar and Linda Russo’s dear places therein addresses this idea of kinship. All the pieces, visual art and poems, take contributions from various creeks, silt and watershed collections. The materials - pigments, words - come from creeks miles and miles apart, and yet they’ve always been connected through the spaces between them.

In our world of looming goals and desired accomplishments, it’s worth reflecting on kinship and what gifts the creeks and stones around us have to offer. dear places therein invites you to think about the way something as “simple” as silt can connect us to an ocean, to the cold evening rain. To each other, to a pothole, or even to a boulder alongside Missouri Flat Creek.

Anna K. Young is a summa cum laude graduate of WSU (BA English ‘21) and an MFA candidate in creative writing at Western Washington University. Alongside a forthcoming novella with Running Wild Press, she will be featured in Cutleaf Literary Journal, Sheila-Na-Gig’s online poetry journal, and Mortal Magazine in 2022. Her latest work appeared in Crack the Spine’s “The Year” anthology in 2019.

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