This place is like a garden! A garden given to us by God…
I’m paraphrasing — fictionalizing — a story I heard several times from members of the Tataviam tribe who live here, in the San Fernando Valley, in the place we call home. It’s the first words uttered by the Spanish upon coming to this place, expressing their astonishment at not only the bounty they could see but its seemingly innate organization. It reminded them so strongly of the beautiful gardens they had left back home in Spain and they came to the only conclusion they could; that God had created, here, a paradisical garden on Earth.
Only it wasn’t God who created it.
The Tataviam, Chumash and Tongva were the caretakers of this land, from Ventura County all the way down to the tip of Orange County. They’re the ones who shaped, crafted and maintained the garden and did so successfully for millennia.
Do you feel like you live in a garden now?
Can you go out to the stream and get a drink from the cool river water? Can you lounge under a stand of trees and breathe in the clean air? Can you walk down a path and pick from your choice of food, medicinals or useful plants? Can you enjoy watching a host of animals — from deer to herons to butterflies to coyotes to mountain lions — cross over your land? Why not?
The thought I’m putting out there is a simple one: once upon a time, we — that is plain, ordinary humans – worked with this land to shape its beauty for us. We did it without high technology, massive external energy inputs or an eon of recorded book-learned experience. We did it with respect and with the power of human creativity. And, I might add, probably more than a bit of stubborness.
Now, I know times have changed, times are hard. But think about this; consider it seriously. What do you think we could do now? What happened if we really committed to recreating the “Gardens of God”? What if we really wanted to restore the land, renew its beauty and make it a gift for generations to come. Do you think we could do it?
We’ve done it before.
I think we can do it again.
I have faith in us all.