Stewardship: Immediate Gratification

I’ve gotten used to the rush of the office day. My fingertips on a keyboard, phones ringing, get up, go to the bathroom, sit down, think about what’s next, check off the list, shut down the computer, go home. I marvel at how much time I’ve spent sitting in the same place trying to get something done. One day ends, and work at home begins, when I drive back, go for a run, make dinner, pack my things, brush my teeth, go over it in my head, remember everything for tomorrow, don’t forget, you have to remember, plan, plan, plan….

And then I breathe Saturday morning, looking out over Baker Lake, and all those things start to fall into place. I greet my volunteers for the day and unload my kayak. The day is cool, with low hanging clouds, weighted by the drizzle that falls in the afternoon. Things are calm and nearly silent, our voices and paddles the only ripples in the damp air.

Our job for the weekend was to spruce up the campsite along Baker Lake, paddling in between sites to save some time. For the rest of the day, we got moving, picking up trash, putting up signs, shoveling out fire rings, and getting the sites ready for a summer full of campsite users. Work went quickly, with time on the water and new people to meet. Each thing followed the next until suddenly, there was a new sign up and the trash gone. No planning required, just letting things happen. I didn’t have to write anything down. It was great.

As the clouds started to break up, we went back to camp for dinner. Rice noodles, backcountry peanut sauce, snap peas, beet greens and tofu. I couldn’t complain. To work off my larger-than-normal portion, we went for an evening paddle. Sun streaked through breaks in the clouds hugging the sides of the mountains above. The water was like glass. I marveled at the shapes made by my paddle in the calm lake. As the sun started to set, we saw the sinuous forms of Baker and Shucksan flanking us to the West and North, rose-colored and glowing. Water lapped the side of my boat and the frogs started to sing. We return to hear about Lance’s boat floating away and his “refreshing” swim to retrieve it. The boat is tied up, the problem is solved. Peace at last.

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I made coffee the next morning, I thought that it would be hard to leave. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in things that we can’t see or touch, things that exist outside of our immediate frame of reference. I send an e-mail and wait for someone to send me a reply. I coordinate details between six different people, all via text message, phone, and e-mail, having the same conversation a seemingly endless number of times. But here, on the lakeshore, hearing the loons and the feeling the sun on my back, everything is within the length of my paddle. I can see the difference I’m making. This is immediate gratification.


  1. Jeff

    This is great Julie… hmmm, makes me want to volunteer!

  2. vida morkunas

    Beautiful photographs and such a lovely writeup. I hope to volunteer again this year, maybe this fall.

  3. Kelsi

    What a great pause from my work week ~ How refreshing! Thank you Julie! ~Kelsi

  4. Aneka

    You nailed it Julie….months of preparation for a short summer of incredibility powerful experiences. Stewardship takes many forms and personal gratification is high. Thanks

  5. Tanya Anderson

    Well done Julie and stewardship team!

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