The Salt Marsh

Green as far as you can see, or at least that’s the feeling I get every time I pass along the causeway connecting Pocasset and Wings Neck, a spit of land jutting out just south of the Cape Cod Canal, and a place our family’s been fortunate enough to spend summers on since before I was born. Although I’ve passed along this way for my entire life, it’s not until today that I get off my bike and wander out into what might be the most biodiverse part of our community. Looking down, I see little crabs scrambling to get away from me.

“Who are you?” they all seem to be screaming in unison while retreating into as many holes as I can count. “Get out of here. Leave now. Can’t you leave just one place untouched?” I imagine them shouting. I promise not to wander far, or long.

Maybe I’m paying more attention in this moment because of all the environmental changes we’re experiencing, and because I’m learning of the power of marshes and oyster beds like these to arrest rising seas. Or maybe I’m off my bike out of simple desire to document a more subtle beauty, not the dramatic lighthouse sun-sets to the west, but a more muted collection of colors — greens and blues combining at the horizon in ways nature perfectly paints.

The salt marsh extends out both sides north and south of the road with tides rolling in and out almost unnoticed. A small tunnel under the road allows waters to flow freely in and out, keeping everything in balance. For the time being that is. To the south, I see inner Pocasset Harbor, while off to the north I can make out the canal. The stretch not more than a quarter mile with about fifty feet of it firm ground paved for human passage while dividing the marsh in half.

Most recently, there’s talk of elevating a half mile or so of Wings Neck Road along here and into the more populated area toward town. Plans to elevate the road some four or five feet in discussion, to account for the flooding we’re already experiencing on the road. You can see a number of houses essentially on stilts along the way, a slow reaction to inevitable change. I imagine this marsh is as much at risk as the houses and the people who live in them.

Today, I’m not thinking about the inevitability of any of this, instead focusing on the capture of an image or two to reflect the serenity of a place I’ve passed too often without proper reverence. By the time I leave, all the little crabs have disappeared, I imagine now patiently waiting their chance to once again roam undisturbed.

“I’m leaving now,” I think while climbing back up to the road, back to where I spend too little time worrying about what’s to come.

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Steve Mooney

Steve Mooney

Writer, photographer, wannabe musician.