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The morning sky begins to brighten

And my somnolent consciousness stirs

As the turning Earth carries my eyes

Slowly eastward

Toward the red sun yellowing

Across the edge of the verdant marsh,

Over the ebb and flow

Of meandering tidal creeks

Wending their way

To the blue-green seaward-bound river.

Miles high my mind drifts

Beyond sandy barrier islands

That a few millennia ago

Were beach front dunes,

But now green with wax myrtles,

Palmettos, and live oaks.

Upward my spirit soars

Beyond white capped waves

To wide blue ocean.

I am solar warmed and born to a new day.

I share this place and time

With myriad birds of the sea and marsh…

Diving cormorants and pelicans,

Red wing blackbirds and marsh wrens,

Egrets, terns, willets and ducks,

Ibis, wood storks, herons, and oyster catchers,

Laughing gulls, herring gulls, and kingfishers,

Sand pipers, black skimmers, tree swallows,

Ospreys, hawks, and eagles,

Each one filling its ecological niche

Since long before

There were humans here to share

This watery beauty with them.

Daily they perform their ancient liturgy,

Gliding over the marsh

With the soft southwest breeze

From sandy roosts or mossy live oak limbs

Into this salty nutrient-rich realm

To be welcomed by the

High decibel squawk-squawk

Of the clapper rails who dwell there

Scampering over the squishy marsh mud

From one wormy treat to another.

Here they join with

The clever raccoons, sleek minks,

And the color-splotched diamondback terrapin

As they wind their way through

A labyrinth of halophytic vegetation…

Spartina grass, salt wort,

Needle grass, groundsel,

Sweet grass, and ox eye daisy,

To feast on the  

Mollusks, crustaceans, and little fish

They find along their rambling way.

In this fertile nursery of life

Molded by millions of orbits of the moon

Whose powerful pull fills and drains

This bounteous tideland

Marking Earth’s transition

Between fresh and salt water,

Land agriculture and pelagic fishing,

A multitude of living things

Thrive in mineral rich

Pluffy mud that was once dry Earth

Brought to the marsh

Suspended in creeks and rivers

That cut passages through

Miles of seaward sloping land

Transporting it from the eroded fields and 

Hillsides where rain loosened its hold

When no plant roots held it firm.

For weeks this washed-out

Meadow and mountain soil

Made a steady water-borne odyssey

Translocating its fertility

To the edge of a lower land

Where this upland soil mixed

With water that is 3.5% salt,  

And now nourishes different life forms

From the flora and fauna

Such as the squirrels, rabbits, and groundhogs

Of its former inland topography.

When settled on the coastal shore

This transmigrated soil

Sustains oysters, clams,

Ribbed mussels, periwinkle snails,

Fiddler crabs, shrimp, and a diverse

Assortment of worms

Who feed on microscopic diatoms,

A tiny form of algae

That along with dinoflagellates,

And other unicellular eukaryotic creatures,

Some which are biologically

Both plant and animal,

Make up most of the

Photosynthetic phytoplankton,

The fundamental nutrient of Earth’s oceans.

Thus, in this fecund salt marsh

The primeval food chain,

That for thousands of years

Has fed a hungry world,

Had its auspicious beginnings.

Billions of years ago as

Our nascent planet cooled

From its hot volcanic youth,

Carbon dioxide rich rain

Falling on Earth’s rocky crust

Created carbonic acid

That dissolved out of it

Salty chlorine and sodium ions

That flowed from the planet’s high places

To the vast oceanic repository

Where the water cycled

From evaporation to flowing streams.

The salt could not be pulled

Up into the clouds by the sun,

And so, the seas and their estuaries

Became saline, as is our blood,

For we began our evolution as

Creatures of the sea.

Perhaps in the eyes of those

Who gaze in awe

Upon majestic snow-capped mountains

With their peaks shrouded in clouds,

This sea level edge of the land

Where terra firma meets water,

Is low and humble.

Yet this muddy, no-see-um infested marsh

With its ancient flora and fauna

Has evolved to be Earth’s

Breast of mother’s milk,

Cycling life into life,

Becoming the primal source of nourishment

For all of Earth’s saline-blooded creatures

As they partake of the life-sustaining Sustenance she generously provides.

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