Reflection of sky in calm water of a salt marsh
This is Bell Creek, a tidal creek that snakes off the Intracoastal Waterway through acres and acres of spartina grass and oyster bars and finally past Tuttle's Grove Church and under Highway 101 north of Beaufort. At high tide the water floods the surrounding marsh and the main creek channel becomes slowly unrecognizable. Knee deep brine stretches as far as the eye can see and the whole place comes alive-blue crabs shake the tops of the spartina grass; small snails hang onto the grass for dear life; fiddler crabs dig into holes to escape the redfish that literally stand on their heads trying to suck them out of their lair; shrimp skip across the surface; jumping mullet repeatedly leap several feet out of the water and flop onto their side; V-wakes of finger mullet cruise in formation; egrets and herons patrol the shallows and marsh hens shriek.
There are few intruders on my paradise. Occasionally a crabber will motor into the creek to empty his pots but most boaters are content to race up and down the main waterway, having absolutely no idea of the beauty that lies off in these creeks. Just as the din of a cold, fast flowing mountain stream used to calm my restless mind when I lived closer to the mountains, this is now my refuge. I normally have the patience of a mosquito but I can pushpole the boat into the grass on an incoming tide, grab a fly rod and stand in the hard, black, sulfury mud for hours-absolutely content. It matters not whether I catch a fish, or see a fish or even make a single cast-I know they are there and that is all that matters. This picture was taken on a summer day when a light southwest breeze was blocked by a stand of tall pines, leaving the water so still that the clouds and the water seemed to merge- I could not tell if I was fishing in the marsh or in the heavens, as if there were a difference.