Cedar River’s Mini Maple’s Story

This fall, Dre Anderson, our brand-new Communities Engagement Manager tromped out to the Cedar River near Renton to see firsthand the restoration work that Forterra is doing along the river. For over five years, Forterra has been removing the dreadful invasive knotweed and planting native trees and shrubs, improving habitat for salmon and improving water quality for drinking and recreation for millions of Washingtonians.

He was inspired to write this poem about a young maple sapling that he met that day.

Cedar River

Excuse me?! Hey you, down here!

Here’s a tale I think you will like to hear.

It’s the life story of my Grandfather, the Great Bigleaf Maple of River Cedar.

Did you know 45 is the number of miles the Cedar River watershed stretches?

From what you call Maple Valley to Washington Lake where the river now empties,

Has been for centuries

The Fall destination for Steelhead and Salmon catches

My grandfather grew up watching brown bare feet

As they walked back and forth hauling their fair load of fish meat

The few parts they could not use,

They fed to my grandfather in the soil of his roots

For generations he was nurtured and grew until his great wide leaves were large enough to protect his crew

From the harsh rays of the sun, or provided refuge until the raindrops were done

From his great height, he claimed the forestry divine

He watched as the land changed under the padding of boots

They came with their weapons of mass destruction

They didn’t even ask for extra lumber support

They took not what they needed, but more as if it were sport

Their carelessness caused rage in the form of flames

Until all that was left were the scattered remains

From the river’s edge, the wind carried his family’s screams

The way my grandfather described the scene, still seems to haunt my dreams.

They left the land weak, so invaders intervened

Black berries took over in droves

Whichever area they choose

The flora broke

Their henchmen the knotweeds would grab the nearest plant and choke

The suffering lasted so long, even my grandfather began to give up hope,

As their vines tightened their vice like rope

It wasn’t until he was in the last 20%

And was marked for death

That they decided to finally come for him.

For three whole days they hacked

He remembered how their jaws dropped with awe

The first time he broke their “strongest” saw

Just when they realized how futile their efforts,

In came the true environmental protectors.

They cut through black berry bushels with swift ferocity

Then they brought justice to the weeds mid-wrap.

As the healing hands proceed

The invaders secede

And its true they’ll succeed

But unfortunately for one mighty tree

They came too late to help him breathe

The damage had been done, by the lumberjacks and the knottedweed

But the protectors were privy and though they could not save, they plucked a seed

Then they sewed with all the water and love it could ever need

And you know who it sprouted to be?

Yes you guessed it, that little seed was me!

Not the first to fall in a lifetime of prime

But I was selected, chosen to grow in his honor

And it is only a matter of time I grow to be just as tall

before this story is passed down to a seedling of mine.

Whom I hope gets a view of the luscious as the one my grandfather described as divine.

  • Dre Anderson

    Dre was born at the UW Hospital and has explored green spaces from Ocean Shores to Shoreline. Capturing each experience in his mind, he lets the accumulate with time, until the poet in him unleashes with flurries of rhyme. Patient, friendly and kind, Dre sees each person as an opportunity to grow, with experiences and knowledge gleaned from what other’s know. With a B.A in Philosophy and a M.A in Urban Environmental Education, Dre can see the multifaceted challenges that affect a diverse community, then systematically plan ways to address and resolve the issues of even the most marginalized individuals.
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