Proper Marsh

Marsh along Hoffman Road in early September
Marsh along Hoffman Road in early September

I’ve been staring out the window now for at least five minutes, trying to figure out what the brown lump in our Hemlock is. I had just convinced myself that it was a bee hive, one of those layered paper structures, and then it moved. A squirrel in some sort of trance.

I took this photo from the road at the edge of the marsh that fills this whole valley. It didn’t always look like this. These purple flowering grasses are new, another invasive. Its all cattails on the other side of the road. The two don’t mix. Morning Glory vines crawl up both with blue flowers all summer.

According to the old-timers, back when we moved here, this property used to be garden plots for the neighbors. A creek ran through it, on its way out to the lake, but when a large plot of land was cleared for a driving range and then a sprawling subdivision south of Titus Avenue, the creek overflowed and the sandy soil shifted.

The lowest section of the road overflowed in the spring. Peggi and I would take our shoes off to wade through. Large snapping turtles crawled out of the marsh to lay their eggs near the road but coyotes got most of them before they hatched. A group of neighbors sued the town for failing to address the drainage issues and the Army Corps came in to engineer curves in the creek to slow down the flow. They raised Hoffman Road a good five feet and distributed the water over a wide area by cutting a least five culverts under the road. Over time we watched all the big trees, the ones with hawks at the top and the red winged black birds in the branches, lose their bark, turn white and tumble into the marsh.

This old timer says it is a proper marsh now.

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