The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
Yesterday we were swimming in the Cove. Because it was an overcast day and the sea was choppy we were the only people in the water. Some terns were calling noisily back and forth as they sped overhead on their way to a destination known only to themselves. A pair of seagulls paced restlessly along the sandbar, lost in thought. We swam out further and there just ahead of us bobbing in the water was a lone double-crested cormorant, body submerged, head and neck held aloft. Every so often, wings flapping madly, it raised itself out of the water before it sank back down. This action was repeated so often that we started thinking that (a) its wings were waterlogged, (b) it didn’t have the strength to fly, or (c) it was dying. For surely cormorants must die too.
How seldom we see dead cormorants, crows, or seagulls for all that there seem to be so many around. This summer I found a dead crow on the road and took it home to hang in the cherry tree, having read somewhere that this might discourage other crows from landing there. It didn’t work. They avoided that particular branch, but my roadkill crow had been so thoroughly flattened by traffic that it did not actually resemble a crow any more. Maybe I needed a plumper crow. In any case the smell was undesirable all round, so with great difficulty I extricated the corpse from the tree and gave it a proper burial.
Returning to that struggling cormorant, which we had already started, mildly, to grieve. As we watched it thrashing about, something else caught our attention and we looked away. When we looked back the cormorant was in the air. As it skimmed across the horizon out of sight I marveled again at how little we know about our fellow creatures. That cormorant must have been fishing and may even have been somewhat annoyed at these humans invading its space. How will we ever know?
What I do know is that this has been an extraordinary summer. One day after another of tranquil beauty, sunshine and glorious wildflowers. We reluctantly bid farewell to the fireweed and phlox, Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, and the many delightful roadside clovers. As we move into autumn everything changes, the sky, the clouds, the light, the colors. We can almost hear the earth heaving a great sigh of relief.
We too heave a sigh as we step back from the pleasures of summer and try to catch up on those jobs we’ve been putting off, like cleaning the fridge. (Woah, what’s this lump at the back? Have I been keeping that cold all summer?) Then there’s wood to move into the shed, crops to harvest, and for some, children to get off to school.
And first things first: we must make time for that daily swim. The water’s never been warmer and the cormorants can take care of themselves.