mary e. theler wetlands nature preserve
The collapse of an original, not-very-well-thought-out plan for Saturday had us wondering how else we’d like to spend a sunny but freezing cold January afternoon and we decided to ride the rusty Bremerton ferry across Puget Sound and explore some wetlands that had been on my mind for some time. Getting there was more than half the fun, the boat was sparsely passengered as to lend the feeling of a chartered excursion and the boys were preoccupied with a spirited card game called something like Yell at your Brother for Cheating and were gradually driving the few other passengers away to quieter quarters. Along the way we did enjoy the beautiful, wide-open expanses of Puget Sound and treed horizons not to mention a trio of seals mostly lounging on a big red buoy in Rich Passage. One of the seals was bobbing its head, really making a big racket. Obviously, it was frustrated with the would-be alpha seal that anyone could tell was being the seal equivalent of a seat hog on the bus, splaying its blubbery body all over the place and taking up valuable room with a mostly-empty backpack and was falling asleep despite vibrating, ridiculously oversized Beats headphones.
A short drive across the Kitsap Peninsula brought us to Belfair, a little town tucked in the trees and which I noticed has at least two cannabis dispensaries in close proximity to each other, one much nicer than the other. Our main reason for coming to Belfair was the estuary on the shores of Hood Canal, the nature preserve here is an enjoyable place for walking and pushing your children into the prickers for fun when they won’t stop trying to wrestle you to the ground despite countless admonishments.
We spotted three river otters by a log, they scampered across the mushy, marshy brown of low tide. The boys kept throwing ice chunks at each other which were gathered from either side of the raised dike upon which we strolled (salty on one side, fresher on the other). After awhile we sat down on a wooden bench to eat salami, crackers and cookies. A most enjoyable, enchanting aspect of our day was observing the difference between the tides, as the estuary started to flood by evening and the landscape changed. In the waning light, the boys shimmied on the rails along the South Tidal Marsh Trail without touching their feet on the boardwalk and got terrible slivers in the process. En route, a jolly fellow in full camouflage enthusiastically greeted me and inquired as to what I was after and I told him I was photographing backlit cattails and he was distinctly disappointed at my mission involving mere fuzzers and informed me that if I didn’t have noisy children I might have stood a chance at observing the family of muskrats that lived in the log just over yonder. The sun finally kissed the horizon and it got freezing cold fast and so we headed out of dodge, back to Bremerton. Our timing was excellent- we boarded the boat after waiting for only a few moments. Oliver Fern alternately terrorized and amused passengers for the next hour, running like a banshee from one end of the boat to the next.