Tuesday, December 22, 2015

DELIBERATING ON RUNNELS: The shortest day of 2015 celebrated and recorded

SUNRISE ON DECEMBER 21, 2015. A first for me—to greet the shortest day of the year with such optimism. My life’s journey has taken me once again to Shell Hammock on Sapelo Island, Georgia, a wonderful place to be DELIBERATE. I am deliberating the end of this year, the start of 2016, NATURE as expressed here on this spectacular barrier island, and my own life’s work. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
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)
RUNNEL BANK, RUNNEL WATER. The viewer is looking down on the edge of a runnel with an angled cut through the layers of sand forming the lines. Ghost shrimp burrows breaking up their symmetry interrupt these lines. The water shows the lowest extent left by tide and overlies rippled sand. (photo by Hallelujah Truth, caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Tony Martin)
A SNAIL GRAZED ALGAL MAT. An algal mat along the edge of a runnel provided much nutrition for grazing snails. Their trails meander and crisscross the surface. Then later were filled with white wind blown sand forming a macaroni-like pattern. The bigger filled holes are more than likely eroded fiddler crab burrows. (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?
SUNSET, WINTER SOLSTICE 2015. The blues of this photo capturing the marsh at sunset resonates with the drawing, “Wholeness,” that I posted yesterday as part of my 2016 Manifesto. Funny, how I “efforted” to capture the subtle reds of the sunset and what emerged were these subtle soft blues. One of my goals as the new year ushers in is to EMBRACE what is. And aren’t these BLUES something deserving of a hug? (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
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!
BICYCLING AT SUNSET. Melancholia was absent on this bike ride made as the sun set on the shortest day of the year! Exhilaration replaced any fear as the longest night of darkness approached and Chiboogamoo and I on our two-wheeled cruisers sped to Nanny Goat beach. UGAMI’s sturdy bicycles insured our speedy ride through the marsh to the rising moon and tides at the beach. (photo by Chiboogamoo, aka Tony Martin)

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