The Nisqually Delta

I suppose in some respects it feels a little like the bottom is falling out of everything. Those things that have helped plant and ground us, are falling away. It isn’t like a tumble down a grassy knoll either… it’s like stepping off a cliff. 




Familiar haunts

All falling away. 

I revisited the meaning of the phrase “the center cannot hold” today. I discovered the source and it was startling. I urge you to read the poem from which the line comes. The Second Coming by Yeats. Oh my. It’s what got me out the door before 6 this morning. 

On my drive to the Nisqually Delta I wondered what the opposite of all this ‘falling away’ would be. I wondered what it could possibly be that could tether us to our heart space; to our hopeful and grateful selves. I would guess that those answers are different for all of us. 

I thought, too, about the opposite of this scarcity mentality. Clearly, the answer to that is abundance. And so I thought about all of the things I could keep full:

My gas tank

My ink bottle

My postage stamp supply

My paper supply

My playlists

My book list

My journal

My list of intentions

My hope

I want to stay full of patience and tolerance, compassion and love. I want to stay full of ideas. I want my brain full and my mind empty. It’s possible, you know.

This global event is not an exercise in scarcity and panic. It’s more like a deep lesson in humanity. It is about mass cooperation. It’s about saving others and saving ourselves. 

Sigh. My drive these days is about 35 minutes from my garage to Nisqually. Today I arrive at 6:30 to a locked gate. I’m earlier than usual and I know the gate is on a timer. It slides open at 6:45 and I drive slowly past the sign. I passed nearly a dozen rabbits coming in on that road. Some recklessly sprinting across my path and others, peeking out through the brush, their eyes sparkling from the glare of my headlights. Either they hadn’t been there before or I have just never seen them. Or never really noticed. 

I love this place so much. I am learning a new thing every day. I know when the Canada geese leave the field (precisely 7:03 today), where the eagles perch and where the herons hunt and pose. I know where to look for the deer, and that just two, of the triplets born last year survived. I know where the eagles are nesting and where the seals swim. 

I know the call of an eagle perched high in the trees. I know to look up to watch for the tail weathers fan open as a hawk flies overhead. I hear the bull frogs calling to one another in the wee hour before sunrise. I know where to look for Mt Rainier as the sun reaches above the horizon. I know this place in nautical and civil twilight. 

I’m learning the song of sparrows. I see wrens and crows, swallows and warblers. I watch the ducks dig their beaks into the soft mud flats. I see the gulls keeping watch at high tide from the rail of the boardwalk. I have seen herons here too and I know there is a four year old bald eagle that often chooses the rail to linger . 


The Yellowlegs have such awkward movements … jerky and uptight. They might just be my new favorites out here. This morning I played peek-a-boo with a seal on the McAlister Creek side. I have a deep love for this estuary boardwalk. I appreciate it. I pray it stays open despite the world closing up around it. 

I meet up with my friend Pat on my walk back. We talk about the changing world and what we fear and hope for. We share a perspective on what’s happening so it made for good conversation. I wrote him the other day and he offered that the next time we crossed paths, he would show me where the Great Horned Owl is hanging out.

We meet a small handful of others and “Bob  the Owl Guy”. These are my people. I need a little more lens to share a good photo of that horned owl, but it was awesome to see him through the binoculars. There was a branch across his eyes, but I think he was aware of the attention. 

The secrets of a place are like mapping a memory. I come here every week, often several times, out of both love and necessity. Pat heard a rumor that the area could close soon so I’ll be there every day I can. It keeps my other parts full: my curiosity, my astonishment and my willingness to accept the grace that these beautiful places give so freely.

P.S. I love that folks are getting out more, and maybe for the first time, to these natural places. Passes are not required at this time. Please remember that this land is a sanctuary. You probably wouldn’t dare leave this trash in a pew in your church or on a good friend’s couch. Please don’t leave it here. This was off the boardwalk and unable to be plucked out. It could be certain death for these guys. Please take this extraordinary time to teach your friends and your kids about what it means to respect the wild places. 

Onward we go.

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