Fall in the Pacific Northwest really is incredible. Today was one of those crystalline-perfect autumn days, when the air is just cool enough for a jacket, but the sun is bright and slanting golden, and the sky a brilliant watercolor wash of blue. Definitely a fine day for a walk, since anyone who has lived here long enough to see the seasons change a few times knows that the weather can’t last, and soon enough the rains will come sweeping in, then stay for months.
A walk down to the fish hatchery, then up Whatcom Creek, past the back of the library, stopping to buy a bottle of cheap wine and a quarter’s worth of fine sea salt at the public market, made for a very pleasant stroll of about three and a half miles. Admittedly, it always makes me miss having a dog, watching other people in the park playing frisbee with their pups.
I’m utterly smitten and enchanted by the salmon working their way up the fish-ladder at the fish hatchery. And even more enchanted by the fish working their way up through the water spilling down the rocks of Whatcom Creek. And, for a wonder, I remembered my camera today, too.
All I can think about, watching them, is all the different stories about magical fish. There are stories about salmon, specifically, from lots of different cultures and folk traditions, too. Local First Nations traditions include many anecdotes and intersections between salmon, people, coyote, and the waters that run out to the sea:
A disagreement between Tyee Salmon and Steelhead resulted in only Tyee Salmon going up the north fork of the Puyallup River and red salmon only going up the south fork. Salmon run all the way up into the Cascades because Coyote broke the weir constructed by the Sandpiper women and cleared the way for salmon to go upstream. Because of that, the Naches people could also fish for part of their food.