Wednesday, July 16, 2008

High Tide

“The marsh is more complicated than people believe or understand.”
– Dr. Franklin J. Watson

I was fascinated by my grandfather – known as Captain by one and all – for he seemed to have an inexhaustible well of information that he willing shared. He taught me how to sail when I was just a child. I learned how to use an Exacto knife while watching him carve decoys as we sat and talked in his shed on Cape Cod, the hard rain punctuating our discussions. He encouraged me to explore new ideas as I was growing older and trying to understand how the world worked.

But the image that has lingered the longest is my grandfather walking in the salt marsh. Growing up spending summers in North Eastham on the Cape, I reveled in the long walks he shared with me through the marsh and along the beach, his thin legs and tan baseball cap with the extra-long, black visor making him look like one of his beloved shorebirds.

He would stand, enthralled, watching the stately strides of a heron, and weave his way among the sand bars, pointing out the hiding places of the razor clams and the fiddler crabs. The life of the salt marsh served as a source of endless fascination for him and a spur for research and observation as he sought “to imagine what it’s like to be a marsh creature.” The marsh was a place of wonder for him, a world to explore.

And so it seems only fitting that I kick off my own personal walk through the marsh online with a nod to my grandfather. Like all of his best walks, I’m not quite sure where it will lead but I think Captain would approve.

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