Marsh, Mellow

 

On a hot and sultry midsummer’s mid-afternoon, marsh life slows. No bird feeds or calls; alligators abandon their banks, sinking into the silty waters. Only an occasional dragonfly passes by while other creatures remain hidden, waiting within the river of grass for the lowering of the sun.

 

Comments always are welcome.

50 thoughts on “Marsh, Mellow

    1. It’s too shallow at this spot for canoeing, although the water levels rise and fall according to the amount of rainfall received, and the tides. Within the refuge itself, kayaking and canoeing aren’t allowed, anyway; it’s a place meant primarily for the birds and other creatures. But there is a shallow lake where launching is allowed, and outside the refuge proper there are innumerable places to launch, with a lot of well publicized paddling trails. One of the most popular is on Galveston Island, just across the bay from this refuge, and I often see kayak fishermen up and down the coast.

    2. And, yes: people do consider the alligators. They can be a little feisty during mating season, and no one wants to get near a mama with babies, but for the most part coexistence is possible. On the other hand, there is a famous and oft-told story here about the kayak fisherman who drove off an alligator by smacking it on its nose with a paddle. There were witnesses who are known to be honest guys, so it seems to be true.

      1. I might be willing to canoe in the company of an alligator or two–maybe–but I wouldn’t kayak around them. Too close for comfort! There’s such a thing as good sense, and fisherman aren’t generally known for it. (I did a lot of fishing in my youth.)

  1. It presents a very tranquil image and as you point out the visible life of the marsh varies greatly with the time of day. It looks like an incredibly rich habitat, and I am sure the diversity of wildlife is impressive.

    1. It’s an exceptionally well-managed spot, with everything from prairie to ponds to sloughs, and the number of birds during the winter can be fantastic. This year, birding wasn’t quite as good as it often is, but only because we’d had so much rain there was sheet water everywhere, and the birds were scattered. When the water levels drop a bit more, the wading birds will start gathering in places more accessible for photographers; I’m looking forward to it.

  2. Yup, dog days. That photo though is deceptive: the blue of the sky, shimmer of water, and lush of green doesn’t match what I know is the heat and humidity. Lovely photo, Linda.

    1. Heat and humidity? On the Texas coast? Surely you jest! Actually, it’s been a relatively cooler and drier summer, and consistent rains seem to have kept things green for a longer time than usual. The best news is that on the day I took this photo, and during another visit or two, there weren’t any mosquitoes. Maybe the dragonflies have been working overtime.

      1. It’s been a strange summer, that’s for sure! I still have tomatoes trucking along. Sure about 1/4 look awful but usually all look awful by now.

    1. There is something about summer afternoon silences, isn’t there? I always have enjoyed the sound of cicadas on a summer afternoon. Somehow, their sound doesn’t disturb the silence, but deepens it.

  3. That’s just gorgeous ( and so summer)
    The water plant residents look oddly similar to a crowd of humans waiting for the concert gates to open.
    We are in those heavy summer days – the white crepe myrtle’s scent as weighty as an oriental perfume – really rivals the spring’s magnolias. The environment is certainly hypnotic right now. Feels like a knowledgeable lingering just before the busy of fall intrudes. (Cars clustered around the school adm. build again, college football news on, shortly the HS band notes will interrupt the morning bird choruses)

    1. Maybe they’re waiting for their ship to come in. The view is to the south, and the line of trees in the distance lies along the Intracoastal Waterway. Farther into the refuge, there’s a trail that leads almost to the ICW; sometimes, a barge or a sailboat will come along.

      Time’s passing, for sure. The neighborhood cardinals have fledglings now, and the cicada killers are disappearing into the ground, one by one. It does have a feel of suspended animation: heavy air, weighty scent, lethargic people. We’d better keep watch, though. Summer came fast, and autumn may, too.

    1. This is as rich and lush as I’ve ever seen it at this spot. Part of the reason has to be the prescribed burn that took place there. I think this area was burned last fall, although it might have been earlier when I saw it. In any case, everything has come back beautifully, and I’m glad I happened upon it when the different colors of the different plants still were easy to distinguish.

    1. Well, these things do come and go. In the thirty years I’ve worked on the docks, there have been some terribly hot and droughty summers, but there have been a lot of pleasant ones as well. I do remember one of the first jokes I heard when I moved to Texas, which actually was a riddle: “What do Texans call a hundred degrees in July?” “Summer.”

      I do wish some of our weather people would stop their out-of-control hyping of conditions; exaggeration for the sake of clicks doesn’t help people take real issues seriously, whether short or long term.

    1. It would be interesting to know how they were perceived by the early explorers and settlers. I’ve read quite a few entries about the prairies, but not much about the marshes — although it’s clear that Houston didn’t have a very good reputation in the 1800s, given the swampy conditions and the horrid mosquitoes. I remember this section of land being burned, and I suspect that contributed to its current lushness.

        1. Well, everyone has to live somewhere, and as the immigrants who arrived in Galveston worked their way inland, the Allen brothers were there to offer them a place to set up shop. I was interested to learn that the first settlements were at Morgan’s Point and Harrisburg; then, after the Allen brothers purchased their land, the population center developed around the confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous. I wonder how many people who drive on Allen parkway every day know that it’s named for the founders of the city?

  4. Your comment about a river of grass recalled to mind the lyrics to that old Pink Floyd song “Grantchester Meadows” – “and a river of green is passing unseen beneath the trees.” The difference between a water meadow and a marsh is, I think, one of both degree and duration.

    1. That certainly isn’t the Pink Floyd I’ve known. It’s a masterful video, and a lovely song. There are several good lines in it, but that one you quoted is especially appealing.

      Ever since I read Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s The Everglades: River of Grass, the phrase has stayed in mind, but I’ve never had reason to use it until I saw this marsh. I’ve never been to the Everglades, but I imagine it being somewhat like this.

      Thanks for the song.

    1. Isn’t it, though? I went looking last night and found a couple of photos from the time when there was a burn in this area. You’d not think of prescribed burning with so much water around, but there are times when the water levels recede and even the ponds get mowed and the grassy areas burned. It’s not just prairies and forests that profit from good management.

  5. Mellow indeed. This is a very inviting angle but the prospect of an alligator nibble hints that a wade might not be wise. Those are lovely puffs hanging over the marsh.

      1. I’ve hoped someone would get a few of my titles recently…maybe they did but didn’t think much of them…so am glad I took care of that for you. I hope you get to see s’more of them.

            1. I do like buttered Texas toast. Maybe one February when spring is springing there and not here. :) We’ve a commitment to go to Acadia at the end of September so that’ll use up our vacation fund for this year.

              I really do want to visit you and Steve and Yvonne in Texas, Michael and my brother in CA and Lynn in WA (note who’s first on the list ). Don’t know if I can pull that off in the near future but if I had a bucket list it’d be at the top.

            2. Well, speaking more practically, hurricane season isn’t the time to plan a trip to the Texas coast. Not only is it hot and humid, there’s always the chance that a storm will whomp itself up the day after your arrival. February’s a wonderful month, especially for a photographer.

              Of course, my bucket list includes a trip to Acadia, so who knows? We’ll see who gets where, first!

            3. My money’s on you. I am notorious for not following through on long trips. But the one I described is definitely something I have wanted to do for a while…Michael and Lynn being new additions.
              We have the occasional visit from a hurricane coming through our part of New England and, of course, they are nothing like what the experience would be like closer to the Gulf coast. Late winter seems more sensible for tourist types like us.

  6. You pulled me in with your title, Linda, and this lovely spot mesmerizes me. I imagine it’s not easy finding a place so quiet and tranquil, where even the native critters are chill. I expect we all should grab chances for tranquility when they present themselves.

    1. The title was my little joke. When I was a kid, I always pronounced ‘marshmallow’ as ‘marshmellow,’ despite valiant efforts to change my pronunciation. I still say ‘marsh-mellow,’ although my next post is going to show some different sorts of marsh mallows, whose names I can pronounce ‘properly.’

      As you well know, there’s often not much difference between tranquility and survival mode when it comes to the heat. Still, slow moving water and bubbling clouds are worth a little sweat. If nothing else, the heat can slow us down a bit, too. That’s not always a bad thing.

    1. It’s a wonderful, peaceful place no matter the season, Gerard. Sometimes it’s not so attractive — perhaps we should say it’s ‘differently attractive’ through the fall and winter. But it’s a spot I love to see changing through the seasons, and this view was a special one.

  7. Your “No birds feed” reminded me immediately of “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by Keats:

    O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
    Alone and palely loitering?
    The sedge has withered from the lake,
    And no birds sing.

    1. That evokes silence, too, albeit of a more poignant sort. I’ve always thought the line, “And no birds sing,” felt like a door slamming. I read the entire poem again, and I couldn’t help but notice the line, “She found me roots of relish sweet.” Perhaps the lady was out digging for marsh mallow root.

        1. Whether there are sedges in that mass of growth I can’t say, but there certainly were sedges along the bank where I was standing. They were beautiful examples, but with this fellow only a couple of feet away, I decided to forgo sedge photos for the time being.

    1. Thank you, Dina. It’s one of my favorite spots, although the perfection shown in the photo doesn’t linger long — a couple of weeks, or maybe more, and then we’re on to the next season, and the next phase of marsh life.

    1. Sometimes, the mosquitoes (especially the tiny salt marsh mosquitoes, which fly and bite 24/7) can be unbearable, but this has been an odd year. The last few times I’ve been to the refuge, there have been no mosquitoes at all. This past weekend, I didn’t even use spray.

      I don’t think the dragonflies and swallows are wholly responsible, and I’m not aware of any sort of biological or chemical control being used at the refuges. My theory is that we’ve had so much rain this year that the larvae have been washed away. Now that we’re drying out, and there’s more standing or stagnant water around, I’ll have a chance to test my theory.

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