Where we are in the year

The other day we stopped at Anderson Creek to see the chum salmon run in progress. These are Oncorhynchus keta, also called dog salmon for the hooked snout and canine-like teeth the males form during spawning. (The females develop a less pronounced version of this kype as well.) They are lovely fish, about 10-20 pounds, with green and dark purple vertical bars on their bodies.  I think their migration is the longest of any of the genus. When we stopped the other day, the water level was quite low — we’ve had a very long mild fall thus far, with only a little rain.

Today I went back, hoping to take a few photographs. All last night it rained hard and the creek was quite full. I thought how often I’d come to Anderson Creek on school field trips, all the children watching the drama of the living fish and the dead. Just beyond, Oyster Bay with its remnants of ancient fish weirs, and everywhere the scent of the season — leaves, rotting fish, damp ground.  I wish I could share the sound of the salmon pushing their way through cold water to find the right place to dig their redds and lay their eggs. It’s one of the best ways to know where we are in the year — bears fattening on the carcasses, ravens klooking in the cedars, eagles making their thin vocalizations that sound so eerie filtered down through rain and trees.

The light wasn’t good for pictures but I took some anyway and hope you can see the shapes of the fish in the water, under ferns, hovering with a chosen mate.

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