Lightening and thunder startle me and the dogs this morning just as a grey dawn breaks the day open. It’s almost winter, and the rain is torrential, the temps are in the 50’s…by 9 a.m. or so, the sky is blue and sun streaming makes the forest steamy. Huh?. . .by 1:30 pm, wind is scuffling more leaves from the sky, which has darkened again. 3:45 and it feels like dusk, dark, pitch dark by 4:30, and by 9 p.m.rain is pouring again. Huh???
Many trees and bushes are budding here in the Northwest which makes no sense given our cold spell and snow two weeks ago.
The hope for returning salmon is fading. It’s probably too late in the season to see them now, when we haven’t yet, but passion keeps us slogging out there anyway. But for the one carcass we found early in the Fall, we’ve seen nothing to suggest that our creek has returning fish.
The creek today is exciting, fish or not. We had a lot of rain last night and the creek is higher than we’ve seen it. I say to Eleanor, “It’s such a shame the fish aren’t here to enjoy the creek when it’s so full. Can’t you just imagine them? They wouldn’t even scrape bottom.”
New rivulets, a new small pond or two, water streaming from under banks where it’s never streamed before, a thread thin sluice turned into a full-on waterfall – raging even though it’s only a foot high – the water flows and surges, gurgles and growls in ways we haven’t seen or heard before. Everything is altered and it’s exhilarating.
At one of the crossing points, we recognize that the water might be higher than our knee high boots. Usually it’s ankle deep. I find a stout stick and poke it in, finding bottom with a bit of difficulty as the current tries to drag the stick downstream. Water level is several inches higher than our boot tops so we find another way to go.
Seeing no sign of salmon, we arrive at the end of our 1000 foot reach. The culvert sluices water in a raging torrent which eddies and swirls and fills the pond to the brim.
What had been a squeezed and nearly dry exiting passage for the pond is now a many water-falled span of rock and wood debris. Wondrous. Can you see the brown ribbon of water cascading out of the culvert in the background? That’s where we’re heading.
As I stand near the culvert, gazing back at the pond, the corner of my eye is shocked by perception. A dark, oblong shape has just leapt UP the waterfall. NO WAY. I doubt myself – all of this happening in a second…doubting mind thinks it must have been a leaf, but rational mind says, “That couldn’t be. It was falling UP.” Sit down and watch is my immediate instinct and I shout over to Eleanor. We agree to give it ten minutes. We get so entranced by what we witness that when I ask how many minutes have gone by, she reports, “ Sixteen.” ( I may be making that number up, you understand. )
“Oh, I’m not ready to leave, are you?”
“No. Let’s give it another ten.”
“Well, maybe we should make it a nice even number, not 26 minutes but 25. How’s that?”
Doesn’t even matter who said what, does it?
So we watch and count. Total of 18 fish in 25 minutes. We realize that we might be recounting some but I see only one fish sluice back down the waterfall, so most seem to be making it as they leap airborne into the culvert’s mouth. The little silvery one I captured in the photo below is on the top edge of the water toward the bottom of the falls still immersed in his/her watery domain.
Three quarters are about six inches long and most are black in appearance. But a few shimmer quintessentially silver. Four fish hit the culvert and belly flop into the foam, leaving the imprint of their body, like the outline of a dead person on a sidewalk, but lasting for just a moment. If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see on the left a wee dark shape near the bottom of the culvert. Droplets appear to be falling into the shape. That’s where the fish flopped on its side…
A few fish are closer to 8” or 9”. One rivets me – 11 to 12’ long and nearly 3” in the mid-section and clearly marked with dark above and light below. Who is that???
Mysteries and Marvel: who and what and how many lie below the surface or hide in cracks and crannies? We puzzle over not noticing any fish during our walk along the stream. Did we miss seeing their parade along the creek because our perceptions aren’t keen enough? Or did we simply miss the parade?
Postscript: I leave today for a four day weekend, the last of the sessions for the Living Myth, Living World course, last written about under the titles relating to Trickery – see posts during the week of Nov 11 – 19. I probably won’t be able to post and may not get any place holders scheduled before leaving. Housework and packing and a meeting take precedence.
Don’t forget me in the meantime because I will be back!