Gastineau Wetlands

sunriseI was ready for a gray day—low clouds, almost white frost feathers on wheat straw colored grass, dull-green mountainsides—a day when even the wickedly thin frost flowers that cling to sea grass look gray.

feathers

Aki and I have a subtle morning at first. A narrow trail through crust-covered snow crosses small, but deep streams still channeling water to the sea. To keep the little dog’s paws and legs dry in the sub-freezing weather I carefully throw her across the channels. She accepts the indignity and waits at each crossing for the toss.

fogThe snow edge marks last night’s high tide line. Fog clouds form above the channel as this morning’s flood tide creeps over grasslands now covered with paper-thin gray ice. Made from salt water rather than free, the ice sheet bends around tussocks and the individual blades of grass. Even Aki’s tiny paws punch through, making a loud, crunching sound. With each step she shatters a frying pan sized circle of surrounding ice.

LemonThe sun does rise but so does a bank of clouds that partially blocks the light. When sunlight can break free it brightens the snow, flooding water, and surrounding mountains; making it almost painful to look at them. Then I can see how fast the tide covers the wetlands and backfills the channels we must cross to reach high ground. Time to retreat.

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