Due credit

We spent the morning doing what we were supposed to; feeding and watering animals, laundry, and paperwork. By mid-afternoon we felt the need to stretch our legs. Because of the late hour we drove to a nearby park. Darcy was along. When we arrived, he and Joanna made their way along the snowy walking path. I took to the stream. As I readied my camera I realized the park was so deeply set among the surrounding hills that the sun would be gone in minutes. I walked quickly to a place where light still shone into the shallows. I felt hurried, but what else could I do? The image here is one of a very few I managed before relative darkness descended. I can see in it what it felt like to be there, in the water, at that moment. It was dark, because the sun was low and just about to fall below the hills to the west. Lingering, shafts of light illuminated the creek bottom, when they were not obscured by passing clouds. I was standing in a particularly deep spot and the water was up, so I leaned into the flow to steady myself. The water was well above the knees and I learned that nylon transmits the cold very well for when I stepped my socked feet into my waders, the narrow uppers of the boots forced my jeans up, to, and even a little above the knees. The temperature was a mixed blessing for cold water seems to accentuate the bits of color which remain, over winter, in the creek. Greens, oranges, and hints of yellow glowed from beneath the surface of the moving fluid. Although the effect can’t be captured in an image such as this, the colors seemed to shift, kaleidoscopically, as water and sunlight interacted. Swirls and eddies mingled to produce the mesmerizing effect. It was quiet and I cannot recall the sound of the moving fluid. Perhaps I was so caught up in my own thoughts that little else could intrude. Isn’t it funny that I was, however, very much aware of the soft slap of the mirror, as it responded to the first click of my remote, and even the more subtle click of the shutter curtains as they moved across the sensor. A piece I heard on the Allegheny Front this morning reminded me that
2012 had marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. The people who were interviewed for the broadcast had made a documentary film of Carson’s life and when they spoke they made special note of the degree to which Carson was aware of the complexities of all environments. They noted that she was somehow innately aware that the introduction of environmental toxins would not, could not, be without consequence. And, thank goodness that she was so visionary in her understanding for, without it, environmentalism may have waited even longer for its birth as a social movement. And, so it is, with Carson’s deep understanding of the complexities of all environments in mind, that I ask you to consider whether this colorful creek bottom is, in fact, all that silent. Does it, as quick observation may suggest, lay dormant during winter? No. It cannot. For this place is home to an array of organisms that will emerge and flourish come early spring. Insects, crustaceans, and vertebrates to be sure. But also molluscs, annelids, and nematodes; and very tiny creatures as well such as the protists, bacteria, cyanobacteria, diatoms, and fungi. They all will flourish and therefore must be there now. Waiting. Patiently. Although the photo may be suggestive of a sterile place, this is certainly not so. It is a vibrant place, to be sure. One simply has to sense that which is unseen. Much like Rachel Carson was able to … more than 50 years ago.


33 thoughts on “Due credit

  1. There is a heart-stopping irony in Saskatchewan that the university in Regina destroyed research plots of native plant species in order to build a petroleum research centre. Now, the school is very focused on turning out oil field professionals in various fields, including the much-needed environmentalist people who rubber stamp the industry’s various drilling projects. This loosely connects with Maurice’s comment, but mostly I’m appreciative of you sharing this post for a different view of life that it offers.

    • Wow. Your story is chilling (no seasonal pun intended). What you report can also be said of what goes on here in northern Pennsylvania. Our local vocational college turns out gas-field-specialists and others who will service our gas industry. Each time I hear about what the industry has done for the local economy and for our increased energy independence I wonder about the costs of such good news. For there is always a cost. Maybe I’m simply being contrary. Maybe not.

  2. And they surely will return and flourish again in spring. For now there’s quiet and cold. Speaking of which … I read some years back that after anti-lock brakes were introduced to production vehicles the anticipated drop in accidents was not always noticed. Speculation abounded that drivers were responding to the increased safety measures by driving more aggressively and thus nullifying the effects. This led to a flurry of research around the area of risk compensation. Something about the comment about wading in knee-deep water in January might have stirred up that memory 🙂 On the bright side the results, for the most part are clear – antilock brakes do reduce casualties. Let’s hope the same is true of chest waders 🙂 Nice picture – it surprises me that you can survive in creek water in January!

    • Your words gave me a MUCH needed laugh this evening Maurice. Thank you. I have not yet been in the field with my waders and WITHOUT Joanna. I have yet to determine how she would feel about my being in the field without her. I don’t think I’ll have to find out however for she is always willing to accompany me – she loves her walks in the woods and as long as it’s not too cold, she and Darcy are happy to come along. We’ll be well below 0F tonight and I’m thinking that if the wind isn’t up I might take a look at some streams tomorrow. Wish me luck. D PS: How has your winter been? Tough, or mild, or a piece-of-cake? Ours has been on the ‘tough’ side thus far.

      • Slightly worse than average I’d say but with lots of ups and downs in terms of temperatures. Freezing drizzle the past few days and every thing’s coated with ice. I expect that will continue – a bit of everything. Haven’t been writing much lately – nothing to say. I daresay that will change in time, though 🙂

        • Hmm. When Joanna looks out the window and beyond the hills, I’ll say What are you thinking about? When she replies, Nothing, I know that she’s not telling the truth. When you say that there’s nothing to say, I have my doubts. Perhaps something of what’s really going on may find its way into a post – soon. D

          • You never know. Lately I’ve been quite busy at home and haven’t had the time to write. Maybe something will happen when things slow down. Btw your reply reminded me of an old joke. A guy got pulled over by a grumpy female police officer. When she approached the window he produced his license, registration and insurance, asking “What did I do wrong?” The reply was, “Nothing.”

  3. I think this image does show a vibrant place if you let it sink in! The mental connection to Silent Spring is spot-on … great post! I have not read Silent Spring but I was aware of its significance. In Austria, the green movement had finally been kicked off by a group of activists protesting against the construction of a hydro power plant at the Danube. The project endangered lots of species living in the meadows at the river – a very special habitat, experts said. So an image of a healthy creek is just linked to the birth of environmentalism for me.

  4. This image is anything but dormant or sterile. The rocks in the creek bed are actually glowing! Glad the light hung around just long enough. Your vantage point looks perfect this time. One of your previous posts lamented the fact that you could have improved your angle. I always chuckle when Joanna and Darcy head for the calm, snowy path and you head right for the rushing water when daylight is fading!

    • Hear, hear – your prose today is poetic and does immense justice to your beautiful capture – full of movement – of whatever kind I can only imagine.

    • Thanks Steve. I hadn’t been out with the camera in a bit and although we aren’t expecting as much snow as I am sure you are, I thought I should get out while I could. It was a tremendous frustration to drive to the location only to realize I had just a few minutes of light left. I’ve been meaning to ask about your backpack. I’ve got a Tamrac with a busted zipper … I’ve had it back for repair once and the darn thing broke again, immediately (they didn’t replace the zipper .. but ‘repaired’ (tried to reform by heating) the faulty (plastic) teeth). I’m looking to pick up another and wondered what you carry about?

      • I am afraid that the only ice I will be finding for a while will be similar to my latest post. No lake or pond ice to be seen and reportedly another 12-24 inches on the way tonight/tomorrow. I use a Tamrac Expedition 8 that I have had for probably 7 or 8 years with no troubles so far. I also have a few of the M.A.S. accessories clipped to the outside and use the tripod pocket for a rolled up rug sample for kneeling in less than dry stuff. I’ve always tried to purchase the largest pack with the most inner space, but I think there are slightly larger on the market now. With all space filled, it weights in at about 40 pounds. I think about downsizing but am just about to add something else, I think. Makes for good exercise but tough on the uphills.

        • The pack I complained about is in Tamrac’s Evolution series. There’s something about the sharp corners that the zippers have to negotiate that makes this one prone to problems. I think I said that I sent my back for repair … they didn’t replace the zipper and only heat-treated the teeth which had failed. The thing broke again the next time out. I think those corners are asking too much of even a heavy-duty zipper. I’ll take a close look at the Expedition … your recommendation carries lots of weight. Thanks. D

  5. What a pretty capture. I’m going to share this with a friend who also appreciates Rachel Carson’s work. I love to see a dormant body of water, also, and to think of all that is living in what is waiting. What a great outing you and Joanna had.

    • There you are Farmer Tammy. I hope you (and the Alpaca’s) have recovered from your recent traumas! Hang in there … spring is Just around the corner. That’s a bit of a joke in our family … the phrase that is. When Joanna was pregnant with Celia we were driving to Massachusetts from the Hoosier State of Indiana. When we crossed into New York Joanna needed to visit the facilities. It’s just around the next corner said I. Ten miles later she asked again … It’s just around the next corner, said I. Needless to say, I had no idea where the facilities were and by the time we finally arrived she was just about the burst (and quite upset). To this day, when I have no idea when something will happen … I say, It’s just around the corner! D

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