Our reading today was provided by Silvio Curtis and is from the Ursula K. Le Guin book Always Coming Home, pp. 51-52:
In our day the River of the Valley barely trickles through a drought year, when by September all but the biggest creeks are dry; but the Na will have been a bigger, though a shorter, stream. When the Great Valley as a whole subsides, the rifting along the fault lines and probably some magma pockets under Ama Kulkun will have sent the Valley's elevation up; 'the watertable under it would also rise; and what with the hot summers of the Great Valley much tempered by the Inland Sea and the vast marshlands, and the sea fogs flowing over the sea currents through a far broader Gate, the climate will have been modified. The dry season not so intensely dry; the creeks fuller; the river statelier, more considerable, more worshipful. But still less than thirty miles from spring to sea.
Thirty miles can be a short or a long way. It depends on the way you go them; what the Kesh called wakwaha.
With ceremony, with forms of politeness and reassurance, they borrowed the waters of the River and its little confluents to drink and be clean and irrigate with, using water mindfully, carefully. They lived in a land that answers greed with drought and death. A difficult land: aloof yet sensitive. Like the deer who live there, who will steal your food and be your food, skinny little deer, thief and prey, neighbor and watcher and watched, curious, unfrightened, untrusting, and untamable. Never anything but wild.
The roots and springs of the Valley were always wild. The patterns of the grapestakes and the pruned vines, the rows of grey olive trees and the formal splendor of flowering almond orchards, the sharp-footed sheep and the dark-eyed cattle, the wineries of stone, the old barns, the mills down by the water, the little shady towns, these are beautiful, humane, endearing, but the roots of the Valley are the roots of the digger pine, the scrub oak, the wild grasses careless and uncared for, and the springs of those creeks rise among the rifts of earthquake, among rocks from the floors of seas that were before there were human beings and from the fires inside the earth. The roots of the Valley are in wildness, in dreaming, in dying, in eternity. The deer trails there, the footpaths and the wagon tracks, they pick their way around the roots of things. They don't go straight. It can take a lifetime to go thirty miles, and come back.