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07 December, 2010

Cypress Again (Finally)

This third Summer in the NW began to seem familiar, my body more used to the rythms, seasoned enough to feel comfortable just past halfway north to the pole. And as you may recall, I was pretty sure I knew ahead of time that August would find me on Cypress Island.

But government time does not comply with the seasons, and even though they recognize years and do some things annually, they prefer the biennium. So August slipped to Sept., then boat trouble delayed the whole operation to October, maybe Halloween, but still I drifted along in the belief that in the islands, Autumn falls softlier than where I live, and the trip could still play out under that season's rippling sideways sunbeams.

But the calendar fell subject to arcane formulae concerning the availbility of funding, rules rules and more rules, other project timelines, and quite a few other variables of less or more dubious officiality. Government time set the trip for late November, when it would finally be darker and rainier than usual. Specifically, early on the Monday after Turkey Day, which meant a Sunday drive on I-5 with a million other people.

Foreboding didn't really have time to set in, and my hermitty self grinned at the promise of island seclusion. The road was crowded, but not clogged. Everything went well dockside, then a run no more complicated than dodging crabpots in Secret Harbor. The predicted gale held off til late in the day, by which time we were tucked away low in the lee, watching low clouds skudd, but feeling only the greatest gusts. (The return was on a channel glassier and calmer than I'd ever seen it.)

The boat and backhoe pilot stayed over, more fun than hermitage, and remained a few days til the work was done. It's really nice to work with someone you don't know, and find out that they're interesting and can handle themselves in the field.

My part was spending time in trenches through the old ball field, filled in past years and destined to be re-opened to the ocean in future biennia. So I was looking for things in the fill to tell me when they were deposited, and found a pitcher's mound and superball (no earlier than 1970s, based on materials).

To get deeper we had to run a pump, which at times would empty the trench quicker than water at the far end could drain. Other times it just choked on clay or the rodent who'd drowned the first night. In the 40 minutes or so between pump and seepage victories, I walked the muck, troweled clean the walls, drew stratigraphic profiles. Oh, and shoveled saturated muck.

Like all good dirt, this stuff says something. I haven't figured it all out yet, but the sequence of sand, clay, sand, organic, clay, sand, fill tells a tale of a Salish Sea and people. Was that organic layer a natural thing, maybe when glaciers sucked the sea shallower? Or a Salish woman's silverweed marsh garden? Or logging droppings?

Questions to ponder later.

1 comment:

  1. You should look to Olivene where the miners once worked,, or near the lake where a few cabins once stood from the turn of the century. These buildings are long gone, but there could be innumerable treasures buried there. Another place, a few hundred yards from the bay held a dump... lord only knows what may be found in there. I do understand that somewhere on the point is an old indian graveyard. As always, love your posts.