Creating the Redwood Creek Watershed Menu
By Maria Finn
“And I fell in love with the immense blue eyes of the Pacific: I saw its red algae, its blood-colored cliffs, its pulsating breath. The ocean led me to the mountain.” Etel Adnan, Journey to Mount Tamalpais
The Redwood Creek watershed begins and ends at Muir Beach, an exquisite entry to the ocean from where our DNA once belly crawled onto shore and started the long dance with the plants and animals and fungi.
Still today, our blood has the same salt ratio as the sea, the same mineral content as the waves sluicing onto the sand.
Beyond the wave-worn rocks, a squadron of pelicans is breaking formation to dive for anchovies, silver shoals of glinting bait balls that turn the sea into a feeding frenzy as they travel through.
I wait and watch, as a humpback may lunge from the center of them; when and if, my heart fills my throat,
I am engulfed in something much greater than myself,
like Jonah, only my whale is a soft sink into wonder,
as I wait, I smell the rotting carcass of the dead whale, struck by a ship,
decaying on Muir beach and I try to turn away from sorrow, but the wind carries my complicity to me, up to my nose and the scent becomes part of me, it reminds me – this too is you.
We are always balancing wonder and sorrow, one in each hand - our ability to do this is humanity's genius and tragedy.
Thank you, I'm sorry.
I envy the seaweed. They have nothing to apologize for.
Generous nori, social kombu, kinky bladderwrack, glamourous feather boa.
Green-brown-red buffers between land and sea, come spring they pull carbon from the air to grow and in fall toss their spores into the crashing waves, fronds gesturing good-bye to the returning salmon.
These marvels return from the ocean to their birthplace up the river. They feed orca whales and sea lions in saltwater, caddisflies, and osprey in the air, and bears and raccoons on land. Their bones fertilize the sword ferns, the manzanita, the oaks & laurels, the huckleberry bushes, and the mighty redwoods with minerals from the sea.
The trees shade the streams and keep the water cool. Downed trunks, rotting logs a dilatory tumble that creates pockets of deep water that provide the young salmon with safe places to hide and grow. Both trees and salmon are magnificent in their capacity to shape their worlds for the benefit of all creatures.
What makes us worthy of salmon? Or of redwoods?
I am just a bug down here at the base of redwood, my lifespan a mere spark in time. But my skin has the same bacterial content as soil.
My blood has the same mineral content as the sea.
We are fractals of planet earth.
So where are redwoods and salmon in us? What do we protect and shade and feed?
Do you nourish like a salmon or like a tree?
On September 15th, this wild and wonderful watershed will feed and inspire you.