Nature Photography

The Draw of the Salish Sea

Inland from the Pacific, on the west coast of Cascadia, the Salish Sea fills the glacially-carved mountain valley system between Vancouver Island and the older island chains lifted into the sky in which I live. Look how even a glance towards North America at dawn reveals a torrential river of cloud pouring in off the Pacific, and a wall of fog as it rises over the mountains on the eastern edge of the sea. This emptiness is the human habitat. Its draw is our wellspring.

50th Parallel at Dawn

The boulders in the foreground, visible only at very low tides, are left from the glaciers that poured down off the mountains and cut this valley deep enough that it became a negative space that drew the Pacific into its body. The mingling of fresh, glacial water and salt water at that time is repeated here every year. Every spring so many mountain rivers pour down into this sea that in many places it is more an estuary system, blending salt and fresh water much like the bands of light and cloud you see here, than it is an ocean.

Every glacier creates empty space. Trees and water, air, gulls and salmon have moved into the space at the same time that the space drew them in. Without that space, there would be little to draw humans here as well. There would be rock.

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