Lifting a brush, a burin, a pen, or a styles is like releasing a bite or lifting a claw.
Early mornings I walked from my rain forest campsite to the mudflats at low tide. The sun beamed in that open clearing and I delighted in finding silky clay. Sitting on a rock, the sun strong and heating my face, the slippery mud squishing between my fingers, little crabs scuttled sideways on the earth from one crater to another.
Thousands of little crabs! One such morning while I was forming a ball of clay, compacting and rounding its surface and not knowing a creature was within, all of a sudden a little crab mightily pushed itself out. Surprised, I leaned over the stream to release it into the water. Under water, with heavy clay on its arms, the crab stood outstretched, pinchers upwards as if waiting for this weight to be washed off, or perhaps standing in defense. I think I said sorry, imagining her indignation and internal conversation about getting stuck in a giant ball of mud.
This happened during a few days of trail building with the Wilderness Committee in Clayoquot Sound in Wah-nuh-jus—Hilthoois Tribal Park under the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardians this summer. We hauled chunks of cedar previously cut from nurse trees, spread them out, hammered them into place, bodies becoming hot, the forest sticking to the sweat on bodies. Midday running and diving into the inlet, my body was cooled, washed and renewed. Walking through the forest among ancient cedar trees I stopped to lean my back or nestle into a bend of a trunk. I worked beside a group with the joint effort of protecting that place, protecting old growth forests and being witness to it.