The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

In which a creek steals my camera

Marsh Creek in fall.I went swimming in Marsh Creek last week. It wasn’t a planned exercise, but it was instructive. Global warming, it seems, has reached Adams County – a fact I had only suspected until, an hour after the impromptu dive, I’d not frozen to death.

We had gone canoeing on the creek, me with a camera – which attained a starring role in the story to follow.

The trees were in glorious hues of reds and golds. We paddled upstream until the shallowness of the water and our combined weight conspired to impede further travel, at least by water. We turned to float down the waterway. A few songbirds flitted about the trees. The scenery was peaceful – serene, even – as we glided on the glassine surface, past cliffs carved over millions of years to provide hiding places for rumored bass and perch. I shot some stills and video for an upcoming project, and laid the camera on the canoe bottom, using my backpack as a cushion.

I was sitting on the canoe bottom to make it more stable. My companion and I both are fairly large loads for a 15-foot canoe. I decided to try to get up onto the seat. Mere seconds later, I was standing on the bottom of Marsh Creek, looking in the canoe at the place the Nikon had been cushioned.

Getting out of the water and into dry clothing seemed paramount. We were tempted to look for the camera, but it is November, after all, and the water is cold – or so I cautioned myself. Also, a recent storm had turned the creek opaque with rain-churned mud, so seeing anything in the water was going to be difficult.

Two days later was the first opportunity to return to the creek. We paddled over the place we thought the camera would lie, he on a kayak, me in the canoe. We used our boats and paddles to shield the sun and wind ripples from blocking our view. And found the camera without having to go back in the water. The strap – an after-market contraption with a sponge shoulder pad that looked like a water plant floating down near the creek bad – provided a loop to catch with the paddle.

There were things attached to the camera that were worth recovering – the strap among them – but the camera and lens are destroyed. Water and electronics do not play nice together.

But I learned a couple things. First, I might have been able to recover the camera had I tied a string to it so it would have remained attached to the canoe. The neck strap might have helped, had it not been in the way of the paddle as I did my part to move the canoe.

And second, global warming is alive and well near where I live. Marsh Creek, especially after the heavy rains we had experienced, should have been cold. After we had time to dry off and reclothe ourselves, we decided the water was not nearly as cold as it should have been. I think I will try to find a suitable thermometer and check it.

Meanwhile, after finding the camera, we went paddling. A pair of Mallards, certain I could not see them as I passed by, burst from their spot after I passed by. A turtle sat in the afternoon sun and 20 degrees above average temperature, enjoying a final opportunity to avoid burying itself in the mud. And a short distance away, what appeared to be an Osprey dove at the water, then perched in a creekside tree, hiding his embarrassment at having missed his target.

Clearly, the creek is still calling.


  1. John, a personal story and a commentary on climate change, in one elegantly written piece. Sorry about the camera. 🙁

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