It’s 1530 on Chicken Ridge. Now past sunset, the sky darkens from sweet crayon blue to black with the ascendancy of a slivered moon. Gray clouds turn pink, then orange, then red. Listening to Chieftains (Album 1) isn’t required to write about this sky, but I need the music to describe the walk Aki and I just finished on the Sheep Creek Delta. The rich mix of joy and sadness the boys convey with fiddle, whistle and bodhran makes a fitting soundtrack for this afternoon’s flood tide.
Arriving a few hours before the cresting of a 17 foot high tide, the little dog and I headed directly for the delta’s edge. We passed tide pools completely covered by paper thin sheets of flexible sea ice. I could make out shapes and pebbles through the translucent covering. In a momentarily dry channel, the tips of barnacle colonies poked through other thin ice sheets as if wrapped in frozen barbers’ capes. Layers of long frost feathers decorate their capes. I was tempted to linger, knowing that this icy beauty would be lost to the flooding tide, but prudently followed Aki toward the sea edge, checking to make sure we would not be cut off by rising water. The larger puddles and ponds, still unfrozen, captured more light and color in their reflections of mountain and sky than could be found in the things reflected. We watched the tide smash one of these liquid mirrors, bringing movement that fragmented the reflection, leaving us with a shattered image of Sheep Mountain.
Aki started whining while I tried to focus the camera on a reflective scene. Looking behind us, I saw tide water quickly filling a channel we would have to cross to get back to the car. We made a run for it, leaving deep prints in the channel mud that filled with tidal water seconds after made. Reaching a dry high spot on the beach I looked back and watched translucent ice sheets melting on contact with the flooding sea. Any sense of loss was soon replaced by hope and the expectation that when it retreated, this new tide would leave behind more icy wonder.