Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

There is the surface, and then there is what lies beneath.

Our lives are so often spent frantically skimming across the surface, racing from one event to the next, one milestone after another, phase to phase, ice flow to ice flow. It can be treacherous. It is often unsatisfying.

Appreciating abundance is a familiar state. If the snow is deep enough, we can ski. If there is enough food, we can feast. If the tide is in, we can surf or swim or fish. We look for abundance. We cheer its presence.

Nature offers more than abundance, and Rachel Carson understood this. She would quietly sit by the shore in New Harbor, Maine, observing the tides, appreciating the birds and the salt and the sounds so abundant at high tide. And when low tide pulled the watery covers off of the beds of rocks and mollusks and plants, she observed, appreciated, and learned anew.

All of the songs, and maxims, and greeting card mushy banalities have that germ of truth: Stop and smell the roses. Slow down, you move too fast.

It seems so obvious that it is tempting to skim over this truth each time, and race to that next event. But kneeling by a tidal pool at low tide, I paused. I hope I don’t stand up again too quickly.

Photos of that day:

The Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve:  looking north.

The Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve: looking north.

The view to the south.

The view to the south.

The ocean, the land, and that very compelling tidal pool.

The ocean, the land, and that very compelling tidal pool.

Just offshore, a lobsterman hauls up his traps.

Just offshore, a lobsterman hauls up his traps.

And the point of all of this: The insight that is low tide:


“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”

— Rachel Carson (1907-1964), American biologist, conservationist, author

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Before the Fall

I’m not talking seasons, and I’m certainly not talking about grace. I’m talking about falling down.

I’m talking about the pain to both pride and backside.

The day started out in such a lovely way. It was early. I was taking both dogs for a long walk along the Damariscotta River. We were walking upstream, and it was low tide. The morning was cool, with a bright blue sky, and I was so pleased to be in Maine, on that river, with those dogs. I kept thinking, “It is a beautiful morning!”

We walked farther than we ever had on that path. We went deep into the woods and encountered an enormous tree across the path. Rather than turn back, I chose to walk around it and keep going. Nothing was going to end this beautiful morning.

We emerged from that thicket onto the riverbank. I realized we were across the river from the Whaleback Shell Middens State Historical Park – a site I’d taken the dogs many times before. It is an historic site because of the heaps of oyster shells left by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. On the eastern bank, the site has placards and paths, and the shells are scattered amongst the overgrown forest. On the western side, where I was now, the heap was larger, whiter, and more visible from the opposite shore.

Right now, it was behind me, and I was gazing out across the water:


And the same view looking down-river towards town:


And again, up-river:


Beautiful morning, yes? The low tide left swirls of grass. Lovely to see and easy to walk over. I went closer to the edge of the river, and saw the sandy shore sparkling with shells:


And closer still:


How beautiful! How sparkly! How…….Where did all that blue sky come from?

I was flat on my back, with the river water seeping into my coat, jeans, and sneakers. Those sparkling shells were resting on slick mud, and it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen that hard and that dramatically. I think I made a noise on the way down. I know my backside looked pretty funny – wet, muddy, and sparkling with thousands of bits of snickering oyster shells.

I sent up a silent prayer that no one was within video-distance.

I walked back to the car with a lot more dignity than I felt. I tried to recapture the magic of the morning, Before the Fall. No good. Advil and the photographs will have to suffice, at least until my pride heals. And that will take longer than…the other part that’s healing.


“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

— Mel Brooks

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Spring Floods

Life gave me spring floods and I made topsoil.

Not quite the same as making lemonade from lemons, but it was infinitely more appealing to me as a gardener.

March brought two torrential rains within one week. The water poured down the steep hill behind my garden, and gushed through the drain pipe directly into my garden. My carefully laid beds, newly dressed with compost, were gouged by several channels of water.

My first look at the damage was the leaves washed against the deer netting:

If you look at my “Photo of the Day,” you’ll see the topsoil that washed down. I took that topsoil, and put in onto my three squash hills, all works-in-progress:

A meager beginning...

...but as I realized the amount of gorgeous topsoil the rain had left me, I grew more enthusiastic, and heaped all three hills with this springtime gift!

I then turned my attention to the garden itself. That was a little more sobering.

If you look closely, you'll see both dirt and water rocketed through this pipe.

And I confess to being mightily discouraged when I saw the damage.

Multiple channels were carved out of my beds.

That dirt washed down and pooled at the bottom, held in place by the deer netting.

And a closer look:

As much as I love my husband, who is Mr. Lawn, I was glad to keep proprietary rights to this dirt. It was mine — I composted it, weeded it, de-rocked it, and at least the fence allowed me to keep possession.

So I spent a good part of this Sunday moving dirt. My husband pitched-in, not bitter at all about how close he came to receiving this black gold for his lawn, and we shoveled together, moving the dirt from the deep puddle below, back to the deep trenches above.

I am aching in my back and arms, but I am not complaining. We are many days past the 20th of March, but I know that means nothing. As Henry Van Dyke once said, “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”

I hope I don’t have to wait for another month for spring to truly arrive, but when it does, my dirt and I will be ready.


The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase.

–E.B. White, “Hot Weather,” One Man’s Meat, 1944

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