Driving down Reynolda Road, I have seen this swamp for many years. I thought it looked very creepy and my kids confirmed that it was indeed ” ‘pooky”. Until one day this summer, I noticed dots of pink here and there on the water. I was curious to what was transpiring out on the water. I had some time and my camera, so I stopped and took some pictures. While walking along the zig-zag boardwalk through the marsh land, I thought this place would be great in the fog. So I waited, something I am not very good at, for just the right morning, when the conditions were just right.
After a particularly stormy night, I woke up early and looked out the kitchen windows. I noticed the fog was as thick as pea soup. I threw off my jammies, put on clothes and a ball cap on my unwashed head, grabbed my camera, some film and headed out the door with my coffee in hand. Of course, there’s not a big crowd at a swamp early in the morning, so parking was easy. I got out of my car and walked across the empty parking lot to the head of the trail that leads to the pond. Along the path through the woods, I broke through the seals the spiders had spun the previous evening.
Invisible threads from their tapestries hung from joists to posts along the decrepit pier. The spider’s beautiful markings were illuminated by the evening’s raindrops, welcoming me as their guest as I walked past each web to the end of the pier. The spiders themselves were nowhere to be found to welcome me personally, but the fog drew me into the landscape. What I found when I arrived at the end of the pier was a very strange visual dichotomy: beauty expressed in various phases of renewal and decay. A marsh that was both a grave and womb for life that begins as enormous green leaves unfurling themselves like scrolls on the water between dead, rotting logs from trees that were drowned. The rotting logs providing homes and shelter for the ducks and muskrats swimming around and lookout points for the grey herons. As the delicate pink flowers of the lilies bloomed and the petals fell, what emerged was an extraterrestrial bright green seed pod with yellow fringe! I had to laugh at how decadent, at how extravagant this simple idea was expressing itself. I wanted to say “No, really, you don’t need to put on the show for me, enough of the flamboyance already, just drop a seed in the water.” I don’t think the seed pod would have listened to me anyway. As the pods dried, holes would form and they would appear like a nozzle for a garden hose. Then of course, the seeds in the pods would sink to the bottom of the pond and the indistinguishable stages of birth and death would cycle again. Nature just doesn’t know any other way.