Hallelujah for NATURE and moments to CELEBRATE it and ourselves in relationship. On this shortest day of 2015, my Chiboogamoo and I spent almost the entire day outside along one of Georgia’s most precious natural resources and barrier islands, Sapelo, deliberating on runnels and relict marshes.
Housed at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on the south end of the island in an area near the marsh called “Shell Hammock,” we were up at dawn to witness the sunrise. Then we worked (writer’s retreat) on the sun porch of our marsh cottage surrounded by ancient live oaks and embraced by the golden carpet of winter spartina. Soft light washed over us and we felt as though we were outdoors.
At low tide (late morning), we headed in our field station vehicle, a white jeep Cherokee, to Cabretta Beach on the north end of the island to visit the relict marsh. Chiboogamoo’s writing project, “Sapelo Island: A Sense of Place and Time,” in collaboration with Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, has us reinvestigating places we know well but are viewing again in order for Chiboogamoo to develop explanations and take additional photos. My role? I am his proud field assistant documenting his work!
Arriving at Cabretta Beach, we had such a visual feast displayed before us! After 15 minutes of winding our way through the maritime forest and back dune meadows, where we tracked raccoon and deer, we came upon a vast expanse of beach which is clearly in transition from being a sandy beach. Behind low coastal sand dunes is a “ponding” area, environmentally rich in sediment forming a microbial mat with the assistance of emerging Spartina.
There my Chiboogamoo, my brilliant ichnologist, grew happily energized! We studied and photographed the tracks imprinted by shore birds such as plovers and sanderlings, punctuated with the larger heron footprints. We saw raccoon and deer sign in these thick microbial layers comprised of filamentous algae and encrusted with sand baked by wind and sun.
Expanding out to the north was a terrifically long and deep runnel. Curiosity drew us along its ridges in the opposite direction of the relict marsh (which we studied later after lunch). Ichnology continued to be the focus of our examinations until mine wandered wildly into the visual as I took one photograph after another.
Today, for economy of time, I will share three of the visual feasts I embodied in the photographs I took during this field investigation conducted on the shortest day of the year, December 21st, 2015. And an added bonus to my images? The ichnologist I cohabit with will provide the scientific explanations.
RUNNEL, EDGE LINED WITH SPARTINA. The water to the left is filling a runnel, which is a temporary channel scoured on a beach by the tides. Next to the runnel are algal mats that trap and bind the sand next to the runnel. Above the mat is dead plant matter, all Spartina, which was washed out of salt marshes and left there by the receding tide. Above the Spartina is the highest edge of the runnel, where shore birds foraged for clams, snails, and other food that was left behind the tide. (photo by Hallelujah Truth, caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Tony Martin)
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! The relict marsh must be explored in another blog post, another day. SOUL BLOG with me and share your meanderings on the shortest day of 2015. What did you do?
Acknowledgements: Thanks to my darling ichnologist and boon companion for his knowledge, patience, collaboration, and joy that he perpetually brings me. Thank you to UGAMI for such an amazing facility—especially the bikes! Gratitude to MOTHER NATURE and the awesome world that surrounds us!