Before 1900, Padden Creek Estuary
was ten times larger than it is today.
~ Department of Ecology sign, Harris Avenue
Curious, how mudflats and estuary
could ever have been viewed as without value,
worthy only of fill and conversion to industrial
or other human uses. It’s an old idea:
everything must be subservient to human use.
An idea never out of favor, and legacies remain.
An old idea even here, guiding human activities
for over a century, even if superseded
by knowledge of estuaries as areas of exchange
and negotiation of fresh water and salt water,
as areas rich in life: birds and fish,
marine plants, and marine mammals.
At low tide the estuary drains, leaving mudflats
and the creek to cut new channels to its outlet
to the sea under the train trestle. Rich scents
of life and decay envelop the shore,
and everywhere in the newly remade basin
of mud gulls and crows pick and muse over
morsels of sustenance and interest.
A Great Blue Heron pauses at creek bend.
A species of merganser paddles near a pair
of mallards, and the male warns it away.
Everywhere there are signs of progress:
the estuary wasn’t completely filled in,
and daylighting the creek is now a stated aim.
There’s a Department of Ecology, a sign placed
by department personnel about the estuary,
its environmental value and importance.
The sign warns of threats to the estuary,
and the dangers of pollution and runoff.
A work crew removes Himalayan blackberry
from verge between estuary and Harris Avenue.
An aging man studying the mudflats and birds
remembers women fishing a couple
of office chairs out the creek channel
a year or two earlier, muses over how
he might yet be of service to mudflats, estuary,
creek and the area’s birdlife and wildlife.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 12