Friday, January 20, 2017


One of the advantages of wild places - even barely wild places - is that they can't get to you.  You don't have to listen to what they say, you don't have to worry about what they want you to do or what they think.  At least for the time being, they don't exist.  They don't like things that they don't control.  One of the unspoken beauties of wild places, aside from the beauty, is that they are rankled by its existence.

I set out at low tide in a river that I know but seldom see in this state.  The mud banks are fully exposed, the base of the spartina above my head, I always feel like I am going back in time when the years of built up primordial ooze is exposed.  I set my camera to sepia tone to match the mood.

planks - likely a tidal barrier to a long cut in the marsh
These conditions give me a chance to explore the "cultural" of the marsh.  As salt marsh, everything that isn't silt or grass is a likely candidate for cultural.  Masses of cobbles...cultural.  Wood firmly fixed in the mud...cultural.  And this is what I focus on, the wood posts and poles that stick out of the bank.  They are firmly fixed, set with intent and perhaps some knowledge and skill, but far from being engineered.  Coming from parts west, I see them first as fence posts.  But, imagining with my more recently acquired east knowledge I know that that is unlikely. 

Agriculture arrived here pre-wire fence.  By the time barbed wire was invented, everything that needed a wall already had a stone wall.  The forests here are littered with stone walls running in all directions.  The posts I am most interested in are away from any trails, roads or paths.  They are isolated.  I suspect that they might have been set to hold fishing nets, or to mark oyster allotments.  I find most of them on the inside of bends and usually grouped, a half dozen scattered about, probably set at different times.  Some are poles from tree limbs, some are sawn lumber.  None of them have any nails or fittings, not that I would expect to find them.  All of them are submerged daily.  Kept wet they rot slowly. Dating them would be difficult.
Cobbles - possibly a crude tide dam

I spot no birds at all until I get to the big bends.  Around the first bend I scare up 15 Canada geese and a couple of black ducks.  After the last bend, the third, I flush a hundred ducks...blacks or mallards by silhouette and call.  Just before the stone arch bridge I spy two blue jays and a kingfisher.  It seems like a lot of blue on such a grey day.

I turn back from the bridge intent on enjoying the calm air and easy paddle that I did not experience yesterday.

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