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.
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.