the busy, late-afternoon traffic humming down Grand could not drown out the sound of rushing water
by Lindsey Shannon
In John Walton’s poem, “I stopped as if I knew anything,” he writes about Missouri Flat Creek and the awe he felt standing there beside the water. Winter brings a sense of gloom to Pullman, with constant cloud cover, and snowy and slushy weather. But on a surprisingly sunny afternoon, I ventured down Grand Ave., past the laundromat to the footbridge over the rushing water of Missouri Flat Creek. I knew I would not see the same grasshoppers, white butterfly, or honey bees flying amongst the greenness that Walton experienced. By the creek, the busy, late-afternoon traffic humming down Grand could not drown out the sound of rushing water (high because of recent rains). The cold bite of winter clashed with the bright light of the sun, and the creek was muddled, wintry. Walton’s “shaded creek” was now desolate, dead grasses and bare branches the creek’s only company. Walton wrote about a lush and rich space that I could not envision. Instead of billowing Willow trees, I saw the leaf-free aspens and a few ponderosa pines desperately holding on to their green hues. In his poem, Walton captures a particular moment in time. On a random Wednesday afternoon, he stood behind the laundromat and viewed this space through a pastoral lens; he captured the Romantic beauty of the creek and its surroundings. I could not look past my location, the thrumming of cars in the background, the memories of doing late night laundry across the bridge, just twenty feet away.
Now standing next to the creek, I felt out of place. The cars and trucks trekked along nearby, winter’s traction tires knocking against the pavement. I carried on down the trail to see if I could feel the same amazement that Walton felt during his visit. I paid close attention to the water, all its ebbs and flows, and “the thought of kneeling down / beside the water, and / putting my hands in it / as it trickled past came to me,” as it did for the poet. A rush of icy water flooded against my hand, the cool shock reminding me of the inclusion Walton craved as he observed this space. Walton was inspired by everything he saw by the creek, the water, the creatures. They made him want to be included, part of that moment forever. In the cold of mid-February, I felt the same. Even without the life and the greenery, maybe despite the greenery, I felt called to this place.
Lindsey Shannon graduated from WSU with her Bachelor's in English Education and interned for EcoArts in the Spring of 2020.