Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lending a hand...

Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be.... Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow.

~ Louis L'Amour

Sometimes, when I look back at my time living at Opal Creek, it all seems mundane. The flowing of days into weeks and months and years... the passage of people, the revolving of seasons... it all blurs like when trying to glimpse something small in the distance...

But then I think and ponder and I know that when I look close, when I stop the flow of time and grasp the moments and examine them in the context of that day or that season I understand how full and rich those days were.

People who visited and stayed and came back again (and sometimes again and again and again), whose names I knew but have forgotten, the volunteers like Ken and Steve who helped as they could, who visited often and whose portable mill sliced some of the lumber used around camp, all those people helped save a forest that became world famous precisely because we all cared.

Too many names to remember but all their contributions, be they great or small, all were necessary elements that lead to eventually getting former Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield to sign legislation saving Opal Creek for all of us, for those who had come before and for those yet to come.

I remember hosting 20/20 and Chris Wallace (son of CBS' Mike Wallace and now a full time talking head at Fox). He and his small crew stayed at the lodge for at least 2 days and absolutely fell in love with the forest. We hosted a group of scientists from Lake Baikal in Russia. They too, fell in love. They loved drinking the water out of the creeks, they loved the quiet and the place and they left glad to have come, touched by the beauty they encountered.

(The cover of The Book of Elders - The Life Stories & Wisdom of Great American Indians, Sandy Johnson w/ photos by Dan Budnik)

In 1991, in the autumn, we hosted some tribal folks from the Warm Springs Reservation and with them were two elders... Grandmothers Sylvia Walutaluma and Nettie Queahpama. One of the two was in a wheelchair (and I don't remember which). A wheelchair though that needed some repair. So, up to the shop with the chair. Some lubrication, a bit of air in the tires and a nut or screw here and there... good as new.

We barbecued salmon (including a couple of "dogfish"... ), had a sweatlodge, it was a wonderful time for all. Before they left one of the Gandmas saw me splitting some cedar into small sticks for kindling (and splitting cedar this way is fun because the western red cedar splits so easily). She asked if I wouldn't mind making some of those cedar sticks for her because they were perfect for jerking salmon. I proceeded to split a big bundle for her, a large box full I believe and she was tickled.

My ex (Hi Darcy! Didn't think you were getting out of this did you?) and I had our baby Robin who was only a couple of months old at the time. A few weeks after their visit we get a surprise... Sylvia and Nettie had made a cradle board for Robin! It hangs on my wall and will hopefully be a treasure for my daughter when she grows up and gets out on her own (and being a beautiful blond it'll be another 20 years before that happens! Of course... she can't run away to Or'gon and marry some wild man living in the woods like her mom did... she can stay home and do that... ;).

I mean life was good. People came and went and we stayed. And when they came their needs were met. We cooked great meals and quite often with a whole crew in the kitchen. Barbara and Georgia and Susie and Jan and just too many to name and me (I was the barbecue man) and oh so many good people and meals! And leftovers! Discussions and education and yes, even occasional celebrations.

I can see from the long view how as we grew our circle of supporters we saw that good things were coming. We worked hard at repairing camp, keeping the lawns mowed and watered through the summer. (Mowing all the lawns in camp was no small chore with a power mower. Paul measured the distance with a pedometer... 7 miles of lawn mowing)

People would come around the corner of the road walking into camp and we could watch them stop. And look... totally awed that way back here, deep in the woods and far up the river was a well kept slice of Oregon history surrounded by a nearly pristine western Cascades low elevation temperate rain forest. In the summer it would be hot in the sun (which makes it real easy to see why god invented forests, for the shade...) and people would be swimming up and down the river, backpackers hiking through, headed maybe into the Opal Creek basin or up Battle Axe and into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness Area. Maybe a group of kids from one of the colleges or Universities would show up and help us for a day, hang out overnite and leave the next day.

Or during school we'd have John Borowski from Philomath bring one of his groups in or maybe Calvin bringing in a group of students from Chemawa in Salem... we'd drive the old flatbed and the Green Pig down to the gate where we'd load up packs and ice chests and sleeping bags into the pig and load the kids onto the flatbed where they would stand in the back and get a great ride through a wonderful, beautiful forest and end up in this magical old mining camp.

Man... those were the days. And the funny thing is we won. There are still caretakers there who carry on the tradition handed down over the decades... "keep camp alive." Adam and Pete are there now... two nice young guys who understand maybe a bit more than others before them how pivotal their roles are as caretakers and how precious the short time we get.

Opal Creek, though saved, isn't done teaching. It is now a certified labratory of study where I know what we will find is that we know so little and that for every question we answer we will only raise 10 more... and I know that somewhere will come acceptance of nature as law in how we build our societies, our civilizations.

Nature as science, nature as spirit...

... and somebody to mow the lawns.

No memory is ever alone; it's at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations.

~ Louis L'Amour

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tree hugging, tree cutting...

It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the nation's need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.

~ Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Arbor Day Message

Its funny the ways a man's life can go...

I've heard it said that men have two choices in life... work or prison. When it gets down to it thats about right. Basically. If it were that simple. But its not. Life provides quagmires, dichotomies, predicaments and downright challenges to any human that ventures beyond their front door.

As a thinking, working, adult male I've often found a particular line of work... unfulfilling. I've had those jobs. As a teen I worked at McDonald's. And for the trivia minded among you, this particular unit (at PCH in Lomita, Ca. just west of Western Ave) was owned by Warren Dobbins who by marriage to his wife Dorothy was an in-law to Ray Kroc and his wife Joan, founders of the McD chain. I did good. At 18 I was an assistant manager and making fair money for a teen and the times. But oh no... we don't want to be completely professional and actually get to go to Hamburger U. Once in a while we still need to vent our boyish enthusiasm and fall prey to spontaneous capers and career damaging situations... late one nite before closing up we emptied the ice machine into the parking lot, as we often did for cleaning.

Well, that big pile of crushed ice was great for making snowballs and therefore it wasn't entirely inconceivable that a bunch of young males, left to their own testosterone driven wiles, would figure out that a snowball fight would be a great idea at 2am.

Wrong. Again. The neighbors turned us into to the boss and Allan lost any possibility of a career as a professional burgerflingen' manager. sigh...

But when I started selling lumber I enjoyed it. Sure I knew that it took trees getting cut to provide the wood I was selling but wood is good stufff. Handling quality beautiful lumber is rewarding. So after brother Marty gave me the chance to get hired at JE Higgins Lumber Co. in Santa Maria I was selling wood. Loading trucks, pulling orders, driving trucks for deliveries, getting awesome slivers.... A job which moved me out of Fresno and back to the central coast. And it was from Higgins in Santa Maria that I moved to Oregon and Jawbone Flats.

From lumber whore to defender of forests in one fell swoop, one 1000 mile drive... and then... after learning all the ways in which old-growth forests were so necessary, so worth saving, I end up selling redwood lumber for over a decade. Just up until last year in fact.

And now, here I am, once again, speaking for the trees. Speaking for those with no voice in our modern world. Such speech will get you labelled by the way.

You will bear the burden of such apellations as "tree-hugger" or "eco-freak" (this one I'm fond of because it is sooo inclusive... so many ways to be a nuisance to the puckered amongst us) or you might even be known as an *gasp!* "enviroh-mentalist." So...? Am I a hypocrite? Am I not an environmentalist? Am I a victim of circumstance? A rogue among lambs or a warrior among rogues? Or, as I suspect, am I a multi-faceted individual with bumps, warts and no clue as to where the hell I am or what I'm doing but putting on a good face so I don't look too silly among my neighbors? There are just too many choices to really decide... kinda like the ice cream or beer sections at a big grocery store. Or the shampoo aisle! Now there's a topic for a rant...

From trees and the hugging of to rogues and from rogues to shampoo... dang... I digress again... sigh...

Next time I will stay on topic. I swear... really...

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to talk to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.

~ Herman Hesse

Saturday, February 17, 2007


You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round..... The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours....

Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.

~ Black Elk


I love living in the west. I pretty much doubt I'll ever live east of the rockies and there is slim chance I'll ever travel much east of the Mississippi. Everywhere I've gone in the west I've touched time. We still have real cowboys, real indians, water wars and argue over grazing and other uses of our land here. I've met descendants of Kit Carson and Daniel Boone. I've found pot shards, arrowheads, petroglyphs and pictographs... it is a genuine enrichment of my world to have these associations. To have those connections across time and to think perhaps that somewhere along the line I may do a good thing or two for folks in my life.

In my doings with tribal folks I've done sweatlodge with many people of many tribes and colors, I've sat through all-night teepee meetings (peyote ceremony) and seen the firebird as it was born, flared and was consumed to coals and then ash while prayers were made and songs sung.

In California I hung out with Grampa Semu a lot off and on over the years and had many friends in the local Chumash community. I remember first meeting Grampa at the Santa Ynez Reservation at the home of two of the last speakers of the Chumash language, Uncle Cheecho and Aunt Tita. I have the negatives for some excellent black and white photos from those days at the rez(mid 70s). I went back many times to that old house as various brothers stayed and took care of the elders until they passed on.

I even did my first subversive act (on US soil) there. There was a dispute about building a massive rest stop with a fancy bathroom for the tourists (this was way pre-casino days) and my friend Two Jays asked me to take my camera and take pictures of certain people and tell them I was with the Santa Barbara newspaper. I did, it was easy to do and man... did I find myself in the middle of a tribal dispute! One of the tribal council members, a woman, let me know in no uncertain terms, that my presence was unwanted. Gack! But it was all good... TJ was a big jovial guy and he saved me from the mob... eh...

Anyway... I'm digressing again... I've managed to stay at least peripherally involved in the Native American world. Sometimes it was the present folks, sometimes it was those who had come before, who had used the omni-present grinding stones I keep coming across.

(photo - Wendy Martin, from Forest Voice, Summer 2002)

At Jawbone I had the great pleasure of meeting Calvin Hecocta who had started coming to Opal Creek most springs to do a land blessing and help us open camp up for the year. In a good way, with songs and prayers and good food and company. And of course, sweatlodge... Woohoo!

Calvin runs a beautiful sweat, he is masterful in his presence with - and concern for - those with him. He is funny and big hearted and accomodating without bending tradition. I've run the fire and carried many rocks for Calvin's sweats at Opal Creek. And hope to carry many more stones his way through the coming years...

The sweatlodge is one of those things that I wonder about. I mean I know folks, professionals, who are scientific minded. Science can explain anything. There is a scientific explanation.

But how do you measure appreciation? How do you measure the change that can come in a human heart when they find the strength to not get out of the sweatlodge; to sit and let go because the voice telling the body "get out! Its HOT in here! We can't take anymore!" is overridden by that hidden power that keeps people in charge of their senses when all about them scream "flee". The sweatlodge is old and crosses all continents and has no color barriers. I've heard it called the first and oldest ceremony.

People sweat everywhere, whether in saunas, temescals or in hidden mountain hot springs... there are traditions of medicine on every continent that involve making people perspire for the benefits to their health. One of my favorite things to do is build a sweatlodge in some remote location next to a creek and spend a few days, do at least a couple of sweats. Down in Central California we did sweats for years east of town off of Hwy 166.

Powerful stuff. I'm hoping to get one in tomorrow down in Blachly with the folks at Nanish Shontie. I hope to, it'll be my first chance to meet these folks. Otherwise I probably have to go practice my lines for my work on an AM radio program debuting soon here in Eugene. But thats a surprise, so don't tell.


Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Standing together...

You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness - ignorance, credulity - helps your enjoyment of these things.

~ Henry David Thoreau

When I arrived at Jawbone, knowing little of the old growth debate here in the NorthWest and having spent the last 3 years selling dead trees (lumber), I was ignorant. But only in the sense of not having the facts.


I've talked before about going out for donuts in the morning... There was a lot of that, all year. Firewood was our heat and we were surounded by trees and had our priorities. Warm and dry ranks high on the priorities list. We always had work to do. There were buildings needing rehabilitation and repair, there were groups to host and hikers to greet. Because we used a hydroelectric system for our power needs we had to maintain the flume line that runs from the source creek to the generating station.

In winter when the water can come hard and unending, the screens at the flume mouth always needed cleaning. And of course getting to the head of the system meant going for yet another hike in the woods! Damn!

So, off we'd go in the Green Pig (more on that later) bumping up the rocky Forest Service road past Opal Pool and up the road a ways to our flume line and then follow (more or less) the line to the creek (Flume Creek oddly enough) where we'd have to get pretty wet sometimes cleaning leaves, sticks and stems (no seeds) and lots of hemlock and fir needles off of our screens. And we'd get cold, very wet and probably be laughing as we did it. We knew we could go back and get warm and dry.

We made our own hours. I mean daylight, thats obviously working hours, but when the power would start dropping at night after a new storm came in we'd hop in the truck with our flashlights and rain gear, drive to the trail head and have to hike in the dark and do it all again. This job, this maintaining the water supply was as old as camp. Higher up on the hill there are still remnants of an old log flume that fed the original mill site on Battle Axe. One of George's tales is about getting in trouble as kids when they'd get caught riding the flume line. But what kid could resist? Here is this open air water slide that was made of wood, slick as all get out... thru a beautiful forest... better than an "E" ticket at Dizzyland!

But when I was there, as it is now, the flume line is a large PVC pipe that follows the terrain down to camp where it meets the Pelton wheel which in turn drives the generator. The same system more or less is in operation today. Caretakers still have to go and clean screens and repair sections of pipe. Which for them means another hike thru the woods. Damn!

When I took on this job access to upper Opal Creek was a trail, lovingly known as the "bear trail" because by golly it must have been the bears who made it. I mean, gosh, there are rules and regulations about trail construction, permits and surveys and archaeological investigations that need to be done and by golly none of my precessors in camp would go against government policies.

Those darn bears...

So in those days we directed people to the bear trail. Also known as the Bart Smith Trail for another former miner who had passed on.

And because we had become the lightning rod for the NW old growth debate we became advocates for visitors. Where once the camp was rarely visited, strangers were mostly shunned and privacy was fiercely protected, in my time we wanted folks to visit. We needed visitors. Paul and Hoos (my other friend and the one who had brought Paul to Jawbone) had to buck tradition and make nice with strangers. Former miner, now passed on, Billy Baumgarten (RIP) had a good story about how private it was and how the public had to adapt in certain situations:

I had been swimming (skinny dipping) at the pool under the Battle Axe bridge [seperates upper camp from lower camp] one summer day and when I was done I just put on my boots and hat and threw my clothes over my shoulder and walked down the road back to my cabin. Well... as I'm walking down the road in my... natural state... here comes a family walking up the road thru camp. I just smiled, tipped my hat and kept walking.

heh... welcome to Oregon...

For those not from Oregon... we do like our skinny dipping here. It is one of those inalienable rights that while not explicitly stated in code is understood as having historical precedent. In fact it is a good thing to remember if you do ever visit here and especially if you decide to try one of our remote hot springs. Oregonians get naked. Especially around water.

Anyway... I was talking about the old growth debate (well, I intended to talk about it) and how I was a bit undereducated on the topic. There were excellent books in camp and we had plenty of people visiting who were well educated (or were educators) on the subject and willing and able to educate. And because of the efforts of the logging industry we had ground to make up. They had painted us as the bad guys and demonization of enviroh-mentalists was accepted and encouraged. The spotted owl became a big player in the debate and led to actual owl murders. But the owl was just a player in this drama. The trees... the forest, that was the real issue. And... an issue that follows me to this day.

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.

~ John Muir

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A forest of elders... and alders...

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

~ William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599

Early on in my stay at Jawbone I had plenty of time to get into the forest. And I had no fear of getting lost, no fear of injury, no fear of assault by bear or mountain lion or by some wayward thug...

Nope. Here I can wander as I see fit. Lots of folks like hiking the trails, going along the path, getting to the outlooks with vistas. I like the groves, away from the trails, the voices... in that cathedral-like space there is some room between the trees and the duff is thick and cool, soft underfoot.

To wander through the forest at Opal Creek is challenging in that the groves come and go as the landscape's terrain creates seperations via gully and rock outcrop. But even these "obstacles" provide another dimension. The gullies play host to small streams which in these steep sided hills provide ribbons of waterfalls... from 2-3 foot mini-falls to long 50 foot drops where moss and fern attach to the rock and huckleberries grow ripe into the late summer.

I've spent a fair bit of time perusing the notions of heaven and hell and have come to discard them as inconsequential. To me. I make no claims of expertise on philosophy or religion and have no qualm with most of those who believe in the duality of that place we may go upon our deaths, whether we're rotten or blessed individuals.

I do know that of the places I have been a quiet glade within an ancient forest is as idyllic as any I have found. I know Ed Abby loved his desert. As do I. The absolute dimensional overpowering of the desert landscape is awe inspiring. I've seen desert night skies so clear that the Milky Way's 3 dimensionality staggers the mind. And it is perhaps that vastness that makes the confines of forested glade so compelling. If I were to meet god - in the guise of an individual - I would think these places are where he/she/it would want to meet me. The same occurrence in the desert and I'd be asking, "Coyote Old Man... what are you up to? Whats up those trickster sleeves?"

And when I wandered through those woods it was exercise like no other. Stooping, stretching, knee lifts and pulls with arms and shoulders... balancing while crossing a log nearly 200' long as it stretches an abyss. But really? The trees themselves are why I'm there. Why we all go there. The trees are our closest relatives. We cannot avoid familial relationships but the trees are closest because as they exhale, we inhale. And vice versa, as our exhalations become their inhalations. We breathe together, tied together in this sharing of breath.

There was a school for the deaf that visited us often at Jawbone. In the Hewitt grove there are a pair of talking trees. A huge pair of trees that lean together. And I think it was here that I saw Paul shine brightest. We would stop at the "talking trees" and these kids would go and wrap their arms around the base of the tree (they were huge) and the wind blowing high in the canopy would rock those trees and they'd creak, loudly. But the kids couldn't hear that.

But they could feel it... and the delight and joy expressed by these young folks was a reward incomparable to any other. And Paul... if ever there was an instance of his getting misty-eyed... this was it. He knew why he had come to Opal Creek.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

~ John Muir

Friday, February 9, 2007

Of water and trees...

Whenever, in the course of the daily hunt the red hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful or sublime - a black thundercloud with the rainbow's glowing arch about the mountains, a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge; a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of sunset - he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, since to him all days are God's.

- Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) (The Soul of the Indian, Houghton Mifflin, Boston & New York, 1911)


At Opal Creek folks often mention the sound of voices especially down close to the water. Some hear kids laughing, others hear song, some hear music. Always muted, never quite clear enough to catch the words, I know that sound that scratches at the psyche, that makes a person strain to hear more.

Never less alone than when alone...

When I arrived at Jawbone that spring of '90 I embarked on a journey that was a whole greater than the sum of the parts. We worked surrounded by rock and tree and water, all relatively unchanged since the last ice age. The giant trees here, some standing when Columbus stumbled into the isles of the Caribbean and brought death and mayhem to the Arawak, have grown on the bodies of their ancestors, who themselves grew upon the fallen before them, and so on, back thousands of years.

Some people think of an old-growth forest as all ancient trees but a forest is a successsional process. Fire, blowdown from high winds and wind bursts, rock slides... whatever the cause, the forest changes, is born anew and grows ancient again.

We hosted a lot of students, from grade school on up to university level. We relished the kids. Paul and I would put on our best miner voices for the young ones. I mean we looked the part, we were gruff and often a tad scruffy. Put a bit of pirate gravel into the voice and entertain 'em a bit while delivering an educational schtick. One of the most asked questions was a basic one: "what do you mine?"

The answer of course, should be academic. But oh no. The answer was a simple one, tried and true...

"Our own business," Paul would exclaim and the kids would laugh and Paul would laugh... and then we'd go into the truth. The lesson wasn't ever as funny but we had the kids attention. Back then, before formal protection we advocated for people to drink the water right out of the streams. Because you could. Drink the water right out of the steams. Still can, but now they can't "recommend" it. Even though they still drink it...

And that water is pure because of the forest. Filtered thru a canopy of bark, limb, leaf and needle; past moss and lichen and dashed on rocks, aerated and chilled... water that should be recognized for its quality. Among the early supporters of Opal Creek was the city of Salem, Oregon's capitol. The Little North Fork of the Santiam (its headwaters being Opal Creek and Battle Axe Creek) provides Salem with 20% of its drinking water.

Many hikers, familiar with Jawbone's neighbor over the mountain, Breitenbush Hot Springs would ask us if there were any hot springs. And we'd have to tell them that no, we didn't. But we did have lots of cold water. And cold was an understatement. 10 second water is what I called it...

And there were those who would devastate it all for the timber. Opal Creek was not a place well loved by the local communities; Detroit, Idanha, Gates, Lyons, Mill City, Mehama... This was logging country and no ragtag band of enviroh-mentalists was going to stop those chainsaws. Folks like Rob Freres of Freres Lumber swore to log the area. And there were others like Tom Hirons, old friends with George Atiyeh and one of the previous miners that resided in my cabin # 6. Tom was a logger and owned a small logging company and opposed the saving of Opal Creek.

I met Tom and we got along well. His wife ran the video store in Mill City. In talking to George just a couple of weeks ago I learned Tom had recently passed on. Sigh... Like the water, like the trees, we all move on. Some are blessed, some are cursed, some go unnoticed but few have a legacy that includes a gem like Opal Creek. RIP Tom...


When time comes for us to again rejoin the infinite stream of water flowing to and from the great timeless ocean, our little droplet of soulful water will once again flow with the endless stream.

- William E. Marks The Holy Order Of Water

Monday, February 5, 2007

In the woods...

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.

- Mother Teresa

When I moved in to my cabin at Jawbone I entered a realm that was to become for me a complete immersion in an intimate setting unlike anything previous in my life. An attachment to this place is inevitable if you spend even part of a day here. When the sound of the river is the lullaby that puts you to sleep and the rock tune that wakes you up in the morning... it becomes the theme song, the rythm that moves you. One thing that every resident of Jawbone accepts is the power of the place to make you welcomed, sheltered, safe...

I very well remember the feeling of "oh boy. A town trip!" And then, after just a couple of hours the novelty of the city is worn and tired. The place is crowded. Crowded with people and sounds and smells and activity... and it is time to go home. Time to get back to the safety inside that locked gate.

As close to a perfect sense of freedom as I've ever enjoyed was at Jawbone. The nature of self sufficiency is a draw that many people ignore or are not even cognizant of. And it is absolutely understandable to rely on the services of modern living. ... heh... I mean... I do it all the time. But Opal Creek... where the water that is your power is also your coffee, your hot shower and it is the best water in the world. Cold. Filtered through a forest, through moss and root and rock. Water as fresh as most of the world's fresh water was before our mad migration through the realm of technology and the planet's human population explosion. I read once that when the final battles of the middle east are fought they won't be fighting over oil. The war will be for water. We can live without oil. We dry up and blow away without water...

Water flows humbly to the lowest level.
Nothing is weaker than water,
Yet for overcoming what is hard and strong,
Nothing surpasses it.

- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching