Monthly Archives: May 2016

Field Notes: Boundary Bay

Boundary Bay Park—stretch of brush grassland and shrub alongside the sea. Ducks and ducklings in the slough. Poppies, beach pea and larkspur on the side of the dyke. Sky an argument between kinds of cloud and blue scraps of empty. Adult bald eagle pursued there by murder of crows—juvenile eagle follows shortly after, its slow flight over my head, wings scooping the air like it meant to dig a hole there. Tree swallows diving after bugs—and a single chipping or lark sparrow, black stripes slashing horizontal across its head, flits in bramble.

The honey red green gold glitter of the grasses is almost too much. Absolutely enamoured of the grass, its shimmering multiplicity this time of year. Wild apple finished bloom. Foxglove. Hardhack’s pink tufts rising up. A week or two ago the smell of the scotch broom overpowered. Now the air is more diverse. In some spots blackberry just beginning to bloom, bramble heaps everywhere, white froth atop curving canes. Rabbit’s round stillness in the grass fringe of bramble. Another tiny one startled, brown mottle and white tail, hops under low bramble. I squat to see the perfect round and miniature arch in dry grass that is her door.


Another bird in near distance, white belly of a raptor flying low and slow—a peregrine? I scramble for better view but it is behind trees—birch and cottonwood—another small bird singing like mad up into the sky and then straight back down into brambles. Quailish sounds. Falcon/hawk again, closer. Low flyer, hunting. White or light brown under wings and belly. Small and snub. Wings up in V as she glides. Northern harrier? Gyrfalcon? I think harrier.

Bulrushes. Sandy patches of ground that mark the formerness of the moving sea edge. So much diverse birdsong I cannot identify—until the red winged blackbird’s song rises long and slow above the medley. Wild roses. Old driftwood tangled in the brush. Walking crow. Then a heron’s prehistoric honk. See the blackbird perched above low marshy swale full of bulrushes. He beeps, lifts a wing to preen, red shoulder flashed or flag held to follow. Blackberry blossoms beneath him. Takes flight to chase off a crow, then he and a female to ground beneath the bulrushes—nest?

Sign nearby credits Dr. Brink for the park’s formation. Brink Wildlife Preserve. Something about that—brink. Edge. Close to collapse. Blackbird horn and hoot. I start back.

Winding path of an earthworm on hard sandy trail at the end of which lies the worm, exhausted and cooked I imagine, like a link of chocolaty dough rolled in coarse sugar. I’ve missed the anthills, too busy with the birds. Another rabbit frozen by the trailside. We co-regard a good while. She begins to eat the grass.


Earlier in life, my reading would have me thinking Tat Tvam Asi—thou art that. Interconnectedness. Later, my Marxist mind would be elsewhere, somewhere purely social, with a radical friend saying, to provoke, “I hate nature,” absorbed only in the human struggle. Now I think in terms of the Biotariat—that all life is now the material out of which capital fashions value, makes profit (whether human labour, the material of all and any species of flora and fauna, “natural resources,” ecosystems, any stretch of mineraled earth or underland), and that we must rise now as emissaries of life writ large, not its masters or separately ensconced social structures.

Walking in this tiny and unremarkable locale, haunt of my spring and summer days thinking and writing, place where Indigenous villages used to line the bay, and where many thousand year old midden heaps still stand, blackberries growing thick on their humps—place that then was a farm (some remnants of snake fence), then a park—a brink—this is where and why to decolonize and stop pipelines and abolish fossil fuels and the capitalism they have long powered. In the name of unremarkable, everyday, local and diverse life and the spaces life forms and is formed by.

Birds, rabbits, and rushes told me so. I move on in their company, this expanded commune.