Treasure In Time – Ode to Lake Herman, Benicia, CA

Ode to Lake Herman, Benicia, CA


I have often felt the rapture of the birds sailing on thermals high along the ridge of Sulphur Springs Mountain looking down on Columbus Parkway, supercenters, and mega roller coasters. I always admired her majesty wondered what stories she held. Until now, I didn’t understand the consequence of her mystery or the impact of her watershed on a community that lay 6 miles away in a different town. Or the secrets of the
man-made lake sitting at her base……

A Treasure In Time

I gaze across the landscape serene
Cormorant birds stand on the overflow tower
guardians of the lake basking in the sun
I catch a flash of orange as a fish jumps, then all is quiet again

Wind’s fingers stir algae into swirls of variegated green
a lone tern paddles by, redirecting the spirals
that call attention to an unrest that sits below the dark waters.
A wise soul, a silent witness, a victim helpless to intervene –
resources ravaged by heedless ambitions for golden riches
a watershed laid foul, a landscape left forever changed.

Now crowned as a recreation area,
a well-deserved reprieve.
I can hear the approving chatter from ghosts of students
who inhabit Sulphur Springs school house
now standing forgotten at the lake’s shore
hopeful for a return of more harmonious times.

A treasure to be honored for all eternity.
May your burden ease with generations of repose and heal past assaults.
May your worth be foremost in our minds.
A resource of water nestled at the base of Sulphur Springs Mountain.


In 1905 Herman Schuster, a well-known engineer, was hired by the Benicia
Water Company to create an earth-filled dam along Sulphur Springs Creek.
This was a time when water was scarce and the need was high for the growing
tannery industries. Water was to be found by any cost (be it dollars,
neighbors, or resources). In 1927 the water was contaminated due to the
quicksilver miners who broke into her heart, her well-spring, trying to keep up
with the impending gold rush. I pieced together a timeline of events that
happened in the Sulphur Springs watershed from various sources.

This Ode to Lake Herman can be viewed at the Paint The Town Exhibit at Benicia City Hall from April 23 to July 23, 2018. Reception is May 17, 2018, 5:30 to 6:30pm. This exhibit is in collabroation with Arts Benicia. A unique look at different Benicia locales through painting, poetry and prose.

Myra Nissen Homeopath Metabolic Balance Coach

Myra Nissen, CCH

Copyright © 2018–2021, Myra Nissen.
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