words from Christmas creek
Sometimes we come to a place to think and when we arrive we cannot. All there is to do is watch - wait, watch, and be silent.
I came to see the sun rise from the marsh. Tide is low. Best time of day to fish. The raccoon knows - emerging from a canyon in the Spartina, it waddles noisily out to the edge of Christmas Creek. As it approaches the water's lip, its spindly joints plunge into dark mud with deep sucking sounds, like a congested frog trying to croak. With muddy paws it combs the shallows for nibblins, finds nothing, and decides to swim across the creek to an oyster bed.
Down the creek, the egrets have returned, standing in the shallows as still as powdered mimes rooted within the current of a crowd, stepping only at the glint of profit. A kingfisher screeches and swings low over the standing birds. One flies off, two others remain. Snowy egrets. It is late November. A couple of sandpipers with beaks like pencils and calls like poorly imitated automatic weapons fly abreast over the Spartina and land in the mud beside an egret and now, the raccoon.
The tide has turned. Christmas Creek is rising. The oysterbed goes under. The trickle of an inlet through the grass widens -- a finger's width, hand's width, a thigh's. A red heron joins us for a few minutes, then departs, tracing the contour of the creek out to sea. Clouds in the east finally flush peachy before the sun's grand entrance.
Overhead, two woodstorks pass by, sounding a faint wheeze with each wing beat. They turn inland to the freshwater pond and light in a live oak. The raccoon I can no longer hear, the last egret flew to shallower shoals, and the blinding rim of the sun rises behind an enormous live oak silhouetted on the edge of the marsh, east. Another woodstork passes overhead, this one scintillating white in the blaze of the early sun. In the distance to the west, the marsh burns gold and the gold is growing, spreading eastward in a slow and steady advance, dissolving shadow, declaring it wholly and unequivocally, day.