at low tide


At low tide we walked the length of the bay. 3 streams enter it, all salmon-bearing, and the bay was used extensively as a fishing place by Indigenous people. Used for centuries. Maybe longer. (One man said the remnants of fish weirs were carbon dated and the trees providing the wood –he says maple though I’d have thought cedar, but I don’t know, and he’s lived adjacent to the bay for decades– were growing in 1386.) There are times when the weirs show themselves and other times when you can’t see them, maybe because they’ve washed away by wild tides, covered with silt from winter run-off, or rotted away during periods of exposure to air. But today we saw little runs of stakes,

P1150118 (2)

in the muddy bottom, surrounded by clam shells and oyster shells. We saw stakes in the rivulets of creeks running through the bay’s bottom, insistent on their otherness, which you can see in the top photograph, and we saw the horn-shaped implements, sharpened at the ends, that we thought might have been instrumental in setting the stakes firmly in the bottom of the bay.


Around us, an eagle inspecting the bottom of the bay, spotted sandpipers trying to deflect attention from their chicks on a little island we were walking by, and the sky arching over us, blue like a book of hours, those lavishly decorated devotional books, some of which were in use in the century the wood for these stakes was growing nearby. My devotions were to the salty air, the dense mud under my feet, the legacy of those attentive minds who watched how the creeks found their way through mud at low tide to open water, and to my friend, who grew up here, in the house you can just see peeking through the trees,  in a time before our urgency to build higher, better, bigger.

P1150121 (2)

Many years ago, my husband walked this bay and wrote a poem that is one of my favourites. Here’s the first section, from a chapbook printed on our Chandler and Price platen press:

mud bottom

I thought of his poem today, the years between his walk and my walk, years that are nothing, and everything, in the life of this bay.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s