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.
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.