Volunteer Voices: Paul Eaves

Paul Eaves, Coldwater Crew Leader, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Almost 20 years ago, I was part of a land occupation to protect four sacred oaks. When the chainsaws came and finally cut the oaks down, I clearly heard the trees say, “It’s about the spring.”

Those tree spoken words began my relationship with Coldwater Spring. At that time, the spring and its lands exuded a beautiful wildness hidden behind fences and decaying buildings. I felt the magic of the spring and visited it weekly, creating a labyrinth, leaving offerings, and saying prayers to honor the spring. It was and continues to be a sacred space for me and many others.

My connection with Coldwater Spring evolved into my volunteer work with the National Park Service. Since the buildings came down, I have attended National Public Lands Days, Tuesday and Thursday work crews, and other habitat restoration events. I have participated in activities such as planting and watering trees, removing invasive buckthorn, and sowing prairie seeds in communion with other wondrous volunteers.

Volunteer Paul Eaves with Natural Resources Chief Alan Robbins-Fenger

Each time I volunteer at Coldwater Spring, I experience my work as a prayer, an act of devotion to the spring and the lands surrounding it. It is also a great way to get a vigorous workout outdoors in a beautiful place. Most important to me, it is an opportunity to create an enchanting, vibrant prairie oak savanna that is a gift to future generations.