What I didn’t know at the time was the profound effect the marsh would have on me, the solace it would bring. It became a spiritual discipline of sorts; even more so after observing a full year of changing seasons and conditions. The marsh can teach a lot about life: Patience, renewal, harsh conditions, and quiet reflection.
Being there nearly every day. Seeing the sunrises that transform Prime Hook from the inky, blue-black pre-dawn sky to a banded vermilion sunrise. The hush of the minutes just before dawn when even the birds are not yet awake. The deep silence of fog that shrouds the water and the herons in silvery blue light. All of these have been deeply moving and inspiring to me both as an artist and as a woman.
Now as then, I see and photograph colors that don’t seem possible. Reflections of orange sky on the water leave me mesmerized and moved. The full moon rising over the marsh, and setting softly the next morning, perfectly reflected in the glassy surface of the water.
The quiet and beauty are just what I need. I have also been on Prime Hook when the wind blows so ferociously that the sand stings like tiny needles.
I’ve watched exhausted waterfowl look shell-shocked the day after storms. I have seen the road flood out, and I have witnessed the battalions of heavy equipment and people from DelDot restore it to passable conditions. An expensive miracle of hard work and engineering that I am grateful for with every visit.
When the inevitable storms come, I’ve worried about the residents of Prime Hook: avian, animal and human. Last spring I saw an osprey whose nest had been destroyed the day before in a fierce windstorm, sitting in the tree where its nest used to be. The osprey was calling out pitifully. It was one of the most mournful and haunting things I have ever heard.
The day before Hurricane Sandy, I drove down to photograph Prime Hook, aware that the storm would batter it pretty hard. I was blinking back tears as I left the marsh and headed home to Milford. But in spite of the hurricane, the marsh survives.
Just yesterday, I photographed an osprey standing on the Prime Hook Road, enjoying its fresh fish breakfast with greedy gusto. The bird was happily distracted and I was treated to a rare close-up view and a photograph.
Today, I saw all kinds of wading shorebirds, and saw that the black skimmers were back for the first time this season. Every time I go to Prime Hook, I see something different, and I am changed just a bit for the better.