Of Mud and Muck

A smattering of clockwork stars filtered through a lens of clean, desolate air and a mineral laden wind, the gears of a lonely night time sky. I am visiting my Aunt and Uncle on their acres of wild property up in Northern Maine, in a little town contiguous to Bar Harbor. They have a small, efficient house set close to jagged shoreline bordering a tidal, estuarine influx.

I throw on a pair of Blue Lugz I’ve had since college. They’re like the boot that will outlive a nuclear holocaust, they look the same as they did when I first started wearing them… And, I have not one but TWO pairs kicking around (Make a mental note, a good friend with  practical footwear in post-apocalyptic times would not be bad to have).

You can walk through the muck of the salt marshes along the shore all the way to the edge of the quiet road their property borders. We’re tottering at the edge of winter here, and at first glance the landscapes muted tones – grey, beige, tan – speak to an impression of dying.  The shore line is littered with the skeletal ghosts of downed trees.

The littering of the small, pitiful empty carapaces of crabs feel like a pirate’s warning. This is not unlike a morose marker of another sort I spotted here last summer. I saw these small snotty circles caught in the marsh grasses at irregular intervals.  It took me a few minutes to realize these were the dismal remains of moon jellies, a cosmopolitan species that experience a population burst (what marine scientists typically call a “bloom”) in the late summer months. The dried whispers of jellyfish that once were, sat withering under the sun while their clueless, unsuspecting brethren bobbed along in small tidal pools entrained nearby in the masses of mud.

Currently, the signs of life here are slight, but appear in unexpected places. I’ve had the ability watch salt marshes turn with the seasons, and the markers of change can be fascinating – the types of color that glitter through your purview, the sounds, and the glimpses of the creatures that slip through. I’ve scared foxes, deer, purple herons – you name, I’ve probably startled it. But even the annual dying of a salt marsh has a certain biological delicacy and beauty to it.

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