“Cattail grow in nearly all types of wetlands, where there is adequate sun, plentiful nutrients, and soggy ground. Midway between land and water, freshwater marshes are among the most highly productive ecosystems on earth, rivaling the tropical rainforest. People valued the supermarket of the swamp for the cattails, but also as a rich source of fish and game. Fish spawn; frogs and salamanders abound. Waterfowl nest here in the safety of the dense sward, and migratory birds seek out cattail marshes for sanctuary on their journeys.” “Braiding Sweetgrass“ by Robin Wall Kimmerer
When we first moved the farm I liked how the marsh protected it on two sides. But I worried that we’d be plagued by mosquitos.
That has not happened.
Instead, the marsh has brought a diversity of life to my attention that I was never aware of before. The cattail, flowers, grasses and birds are the most obvious. But the frogs, fish, and insects are just as plentiful. And like the vegetation, they vary with the seasons.
I don’t just see them, I hear and smell them too. And I know that I’m only experiencing a small fraction of what’s there.
The marsh is a world so much bigger than me.
Sometimes I wish I belonged to it. That I was an integral part of in its existence. I could be the resourceful Cattail, noble Heron, or fragrant wildflower. But the thought of all that rich soil swirling around the roots of the grasses is also appealing.
I imagine being a part of the marsh must be like playing in an orchestra. Each musician dependent on the other to create such living beauty.
I know the marsh isn’t mine, and its existence depends not only on the small part that lies within the boundaries of the farm but in the surrounding land. Still, I feel protective of it, as if it were another being, like the donkeys or sheep, who live on the farm.