Two weeks ago the staff of Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center gathered in Jawbone Flats to celebrate the end of another successful program season. Seasonal staff were getting ready to depart their tiny cabins and Jawbone Flats, a place they have called home for the past 7 months.
It’s hard to describe exactly what Opal Creek is without experiencing it for yourself. For me it has been eye opening in beauty and character, and has become like a second home in the short amount of time that I have been here.
I moved to Jawbone Flats in March with the understanding that I would spend the spring season developing skills as an environmental educator. What I did not realize at the time was how many mysteries the forest held, and that I would quickly come to consider my role in the forest to be that of a detective.
I grew up in New England with a forest outside my back door, but my grandparents grew up in the high desert above San Bernardino, Calif. An old family photo shows my grandmother at 9 years old, surrounded by her siblings and friends, perched atop a cluster of rocks with the scrub and sand of Cajon Pass behind them, grinning in the sun.