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What The Tide Brings

I went down to the dock yesterday. It was beautiful, clear and crisp, not hot, just lovely. Everywhere you look there’s bright new green with spots of happy color where patches of azaleas surprise the eye. Soon the rhododendron will bloom. I can already see deep magenta buds plumping out. After they burst open, the laurels will begin. They’re just the opposite of the rhodies. Not big and showy. Subtle with amazing detail in each little flowerlet. When you get down close it’s as if you’re looking into a kaleidoscope.

What I refer to as the dock, is really a long eight foot wide pier at the end of which is a most unusual boathouse, designed not to house a boat but as a place for people (and kayaks).* Off to one side, where the pier begins there’s a set of steps leading to what is sometimes a beach and sometimes water. It depends on whether the tide is in or out. The steps are for me. I can’t get into my kayak from the dock so I have to go down to the beach to launch. If the tide’s in, I wear high boots if the water’ s cold or creek shoes if it’s warm.

At various times during any given year the creek floods. Calling it a creek is a bit misleading. Where we’re located this “creek” is almost a mile wide. At its headwaters it’s nothing but a bunch of springs leading to a small creek. But when this water meets the tide line, it bowls out. Floods bring all sorts of gifts up to our dock and distribute them along the creek banks. A recent high water deposited a weathered tree trunk at the steps. The trunk wedged diagonally across the steps and the underside of the pier leaving one end completely stuck against a dock stringer and the other between two large riprap rocks. The thing is now immovable. And likely to attract other debris. It’s an acrobatic feat to climb over its girth from step to step to get down to the beach.

After my outdoor crew is done spreading mulch today, they’ll try to unwedge this behemoth and float it back to the river on the outgoing tide.

One day when we were kayaking across the creek with some friends who live four docks down, he told me, “You know when we bought this place I thought to myself: ‘Well this is what it looks like here.’ But now that we’ve been here for so many years, I realize it’s different every year.”

He’s so right. Just since 2003 I’ve watched floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms, fish, Eagles, ducks, geese, deer, otters, beaver, muskrat, and foxes come and go. Every season brings its own joy and its own change. Nothing in nature stays the same. Maybe when we go down to the dock to release that tree trunk later today, we’ll see something new has floated in on the tide.

* You can catch a glimpse of the boathouse in this video: (click on the title Life Is Art.)

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