nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘water levels

course of the creek

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Our small cabin is near a lake, an offshoot of the Saint John River.  We have what some would consider poor access to the lake, since there is a marsh between us and the lake shore edge.  But that marsh is a very special place, ever changing and always interesting.

One way it changes, almost daily and certainly seasonally, is with respect to water level.  You could say we are downstream of the entire Saint John River, meaning we are receiver of every fluctuation of the water level in the system.  The situation is made complex by the influence of a major hydroelectric dam at Mactaquac.

In spring, the river floods, and the marsh is covered by water…

In normal years, the water levels become quite low, and our marsh is high and dry.  We can walk on it, to reach the outer shore of the lake…

the green in the foreground is the marsh

In wet years, like this has been, the water stays high and there is a pond between us and the main lake…

On Saturday, I went rowing on the pond in my small red rowboat.   I rowed out to the edge of the lake and then followed the deeper waters of the small winding creek back into the marsh as far as I could go without grounding the boat.  Last year I could see pumpkinseed sunfish in the creek water, but not this time.

Most of the grasses in the marsh are Spartina pectinata Link., broad-leaf cord-grass, ordinarily associated with salt marshes.  Actually, salt water is characteristic of the lower parts of the Saint John River – the salt water wedge extends as high as Washademoak Lake, and the tidal influence is measurable to above Fredericton!

At the outer shore of the pond, where the creek enters the lake, I was surprised and delighted to find a few stems of wild rice (Zizania aquatica L.).  This is not native to New Brunswick, but is often planted along shores to attract waterfowl and is now found all along the Saint John River and in many lakes.  The grass is distinctive because the pistillate (female) flowers are in a group near the top of the plant while the staminate (male) flowers are on horizontal banches below.

I am an awkward rower.  Usually, to improve my control and reduce my speed, I row the boat backward, stern first!  In spite of my lack of speed, it is an adventure to be on the water, to become a bit of an explorer.  My need to know the ways of the pond reminds me of my attempts to understand the path my life has taken.

characteristics of creek

~

clumsy row in the marsh pond

to seek the course of the creek

the strand of water’s flow

to nourish pond define

its shape conduit

to the lake

~

a slender S through grass emergent

pondweed and cord-grass vague

deviation from clarity hyaline the interface

of freshwater and salt and pumpkinseed

turn their flat bodies to intercept

the flow find the break in the mat of sedge

narrow simplicity of weed-free bottom

~

search

and find

the inevitable

thread in flow of

story the theme to bind

the words and water into one

~

© Jane Tims 2011

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