Thursday, 20 August 2015

Saltmarsh creeks & estuarine mud

While on a recent trip to North Northfolk to deliver some paintings to Birdscapes gallery I had the opportunity to sit beside some lovely Saltmarsh & estuary habitats. I love to spend time in these places & to take it all in, to breathe deeply filling my lungs with that wonderful salty air & to hear the cry of the Curlew or the shrill high notes of piping Redshanks, the watchers of the creeks.
I spent a few hours at Morston Quay perched upon the wooden structures eating fresh seafood bought from a little van in the car park. Crab, Cockles, Whelks, Prawns & Crayfish & a squeeze of Lemon or a dash of malt vinegar. It was bliss. Jill found a spot to read her book & I took out my pen & made a few notes. I'll pepper these jottings with a painting or two, all fitting in with the theme but none of Morston Quay itself. There will be though at some point but I need to go back in better light.

'Snipe flight'.
The tink tink of rigging upon boat masts, the rasping throaty cries of Black Headed gulls, white winged angled shapes cutting through the air like a child's kite, Redshanks piping their song across the Saltmarsh & the trickle of fresh water flowing seaward.
The crackle & fizz of bronzed mud on a receding tide like a thousand glasses of Champagne. Slippery sheets of fallen sky puddle the slip slide silky wet mud. Tracks of birds criss cross the beak probed &  scarred surface where ropes, chains & a general raggle taggle of debris of a Saltmarsh creek lay discarded as if Houdini himself had just completed one of his escapology feats.

Silvered strips & ribbons flow seaward, gently twisting & meandering shallow crystal clear water. The tide yet to turn, slowly filling its more cloudy richness back into the creeks like blood through veins. Slowly it will rise to the timber edged platforms & walkways, mooring posts & jetties. Higgle piggle like a giant game of pick up sticks. Gulls wade disturbing the blue sky reflections, sending out circles, red billed & raucous. Small boats upon the mud at jaunty angles & unsure of themselves like drunks in a bar at closing time. They will sober with the returning tide but for now they lay beached & lifeless.

The aroma of Samphire & salt, of Bladderwrack & wet estuarine mud the consistency of a fine pate. Lost shoes & hats, parted from their owners lay sticking half in half out of the rich wet mud. Just how do you lose a shoe? Crab claws & broken shells scattered about like the remnants of a seafood buffet, Lobster pots ragged & skeletal, drying the sun.

Purple Sea Lavender carpet the top of the marshes, Samphire, short & succulent point to the blue above & Purslane, pale & green grey with oar like leaves grow in abundance here. Impossible to avoid treading upon some of the Samphire but it does have a very pleasing crunchy soft pop like a kind of marine bubble wrap. Tasty too, delicious in fact & one of my favourite vegetables. 
The breeze is full & rounded, a warm breeze yet cooling at the same time, comforting yet fresh. It is heady too with salty Summer undertones with a top note of hot grass & sand blown to my nostrils from the dunes further along the coast. Out at Blakeney point many more plants thrive in this special habitat, too many to mention & so many that I don't know. Two favourites do grow there though among the shingle & the sand. The first is the Yellow Horned Poppy with its paper thin blowsy petals of sunshine yellow & the other Sea Campion, delicate but hardy flowers of pale white with veins of pink so evocative of the Pembrokeshire cliff tops that I love to spend time upon.
Looking along the creek the sun is casting shadows from the marooned boats of the most beautiful blue upon the mud. A really stunning shade that I wish you could buy in a tube. At times of feeling low I could squeeze a little out & be cheered instantly. Colour can be so powerful in the emotions it provokes. Even on a dull day full of cloud & endless grey, the sight of a Kingfisher whizzing along the creeks will always cheer in its dapper impossibly blue jacket. It is one of natures magic spells.

Estuaries & Saltmarsh are so alive with life, positively teeming with it. My love affair with such places will i'm sure continue until my last days but not before i've at least tried to do them some justice with some paint & a canvas or two. Hopefully i'll write another blog soon on another subject close to my heart.