Tuesday, January 31

Endangered Wetlands

Endangered Wetlands, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

With incredible speed, so-called "progress" is filling in the wetlands in and around my town. These places are valuable not only because they provide habitat for many species of birds, aquatic animals, insects and some small mammals, but they are also a water filter and natural storage for runoff and flood waters. But I will personally miss this wetland even more for the beauty and music that will no longer be, when it is gone.

To most observers, seeing this marsh from their cars at 35 mph, it may seem like nothing more than a brown and weedy place. But if you get out of the car and venture down into the marsh, you will find that you are inside a natural concert-hall, one that rivals any in a large cosmopolitan area.

The beauty and voice of this place is the kind that draws you in deeper, makes you want to look closer, crouch down in the midst of the crunch-and-suck, calls you to really listen with your soul.

The musicians tune their instruments. An unseen conductor comes onstage, takes a bow. You close your eyes ... hear the wind rattling reeds all around you, hear the creak and rustle of winter willows and ancient cottonwoods. Your heart starts to beat to the rhythm and punctuating call of blackbirds. Tiny perching birds flit amongst the cattails and brush like high-pitched flute and string sections

... there is a pause, that space of silence that readies the audience for the next moment, that allows the musicians to focus on their opening note. Traffic noise recedes. There is a cough from somewhere in the marsh. You take a deep breath of crisp clean air ... and the symphony begins.

I will miss the music.