We spent Saturday on Whiskeytown Lake, one of the many gems of California North. Whiskeytown’s beautiful sapphire-blue waters provide miles of fun for frolickers, human and animal alike. Waterfowl gather in coves along the green-shrubbed shoreline and race boats across the lake. The water is clean and cold, but not so cold teenage boys can’t swim, tube, or jump from high cliffs that line the lake. Nearly 40,000 acres surrounding the lake are filled with four waterfalls, sparkling mountain creeks, 70 miles of trails, and opportunities to explore the history of the California Gold Rush. Shasta Bally is the highest point in Whiskeytown at 6,199 feet and is often snow-capped.
It’s a beautiful place and one I grew up with. Many memories of love and friendship were nurtured here. It is the first place I ever scuba dived. It is the first place I ever parasailed. It’s the first place I learned to ski solo with my best friend’s dad waving his hand madly for me to drop the ski. It finds its way into my novel writing because of the early childhood memories.
We’ve also made a few memories here as adults with our own children. There was the moonlight kayak ride where hurricane-style winds came up and half of our group needed to be rescued by the Coast Guard. (A point of pride for us: despite paddling in place for 3o minutes in the dark, Mike and his teen, and me and my teen made it in without aid under the moonlit hurricane.) There’s just hanging out at Brandy Creek and watching the kids swim out to the raft and jump.
What I never realized until this weekend was Whiskeytown’s greatest resource: its biodiversity. Whiskeytown is home to more than 750 native vascular plant species along with at least 160 bird species, 62 mammal species, 33 reptile and amphibian species, and 8 native fish species. In addition to the vascular plants and vertebrates, Whiskeytown boasts a diverse array of less obvious, but equally important species, such as lichens, bryophytes, fungi, and arthropods of many kinds. Investigators have yet to fully study and record most of this diversity, and new species of all types are likely to be confirmed as biologists complete inventories within the park. (This directly from their website.)
It struck me as I was watching all the different types of birds in a cove. I remembered underneath the water there were so many types of seaweed. I looked around the shores at so many types of plants.
This diversity makes the place thrive as an ecosystem. It’s one of the many things I wish we modeled more as a human species. So often I hear people speak as if anybody who disagrees with their religion, politics, life philosophy, gender thoughts, feelings on race and ethnicity is the enemy. Indeed, we fight wars and form hate groups based on fear of difference. But these differences are what gives our planet biodiversity. The contrast is healthy and beautiful. How boring would it be if we were all the same? I don’t understand how that is even desirous, but I certainly can see evidence people want that. What would our world look like if we made this choice: rather than fear diversity, each human celebrates our magnificent tapestry called the human race. Imagine all the people. In that way, we could be the manifestation of what we write on our money. E Pluribus Unum. From many, to one.