Nature

November evening

NOVEMBER EVENING

The head of Burrard inlet is a lonley place on a drizzly November afternoon.The park that skirts the mud flats is deserted, as even the bredraggled dog walkers have long since sought shelter.

Standing still in the gloom, hunched against the rain, and trying to ignore the cold and the wet creeping through the soles of ones boots, you can just make them out in the last of the light – coming in low between the new high-rises that form Port Moody’s new town centre.

They come in pairs,and in small family groups, and sometimes in long noisy skeins of twenty or thirty or more, wings beating furiously , honking loudly as they inspect the emply inlet: then satisfied that no danger lurks, banking, and in unison gliding in to land.

They are Canada geese, pilgrims from the Arctic, stopping only briefly to rest and feed on their long trek south, and they come in waves, every few minutes, filling the emply inlet with noise and movement.A thousand birds? 1,500 ? impossible to say, but a remarkable sight.

Leaving the geese to settle in, numb feet find the muddy path up Noon’s creek, to the heavily padlocked hatchery. The stream below the hatchery shows signs of man’s efforts to help nature, but nature is on its own upstream. One follows a barely discernable path to a bend in the creek. There, tight against the far bank, where rushing storm waters have pushed a deposit of sand and gravel, there is a flicker of movement. Thrashing, circling, it is a solitary pair of chum salmon, completing their dance of life, alone, in the dark and drizzle of a late November evening.

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