Monday, February 13, 2012

Saltmarsh mornings

One of my favorite places to wait for a sunrise is the saltmarsh. The frosted grasses in winter, the rustling of birds and small animals, the hoofprints of deer come to test the salty tang of plants along the shore, the ever-changing tableau of seaweed or eelgrass arranged by the last tide; they all captivate me. There's a stillness here that overrides the noise from the traffic passing just a few yards away. A good pair of boots and a walking stick are essentials, and of course the camera has to come along as well, since the still water can provide a canvas for perfect reflections of a glorious sunrise. The scent of the marsh
is salty too, of course -- fresh seaweed left by the receding tide. Sound carries well over the water, so the cries of a pair of loons or a small flock of mergansers can be heard from the islands in the near distance. A heron's quick lunge for a passing fish makes a quiet splash, and a small stream tumbles over rounded granite rocks as it flows into the cove; a pair of muskrats dabble in the shallows by the brook. As spring approaches, the willet's distinctive "pill-will-willet" call is added to the soundscape. The sunrise seems somehow more accessible here -- not a distant event but an intimate one as the first rays of the sun peep through the trees and begin to cast their golden light
on the marsh grasses. It creeps slowly along, casting long shadows that enhance the delicate lines of the tide-swirled seaweed, sparkling off the frost or shining warmly on the mist that rises gently off the water. With the sun fully risen it's time to tread back across the muddy flats and head back to the house for the first sip of morning coffee, but the marsh will still be here tomorrow, constant, timeless, yet ever-changing and new.