Living in Seattle, there is no shortage of natural wonderment to experience. Today, I spent the afternoon witnessing one of life’s great journeys. I got to see the salmon swimming upstream to spawn and die.
I’m more than a little in awe of the choreography of it all. I’ve made hundreds of visits to the Ballard Locks to witness the salmon ladder. It’s absolutely a sight to behold. But there is something uniquely different about witnessing this end of life ritual in the streams around Seattle.
Thanks to a hot tip from a coworker, I made my way down to Carkeek Park in north Seattle to get a front row seat of nature naturing. She did not disappoint. And of course, I took advantage of the beautiful scenery to snap a few selfies. I wasn’t alone.
Before moving to Seattle, I cared very little for salmon. It wasn’t something I ate a lot and it’s not a native fish to the midwest. But the salmon is sacred here. It’s life journey honored and protected. It’s gift of life respected. It’s quite poetic. I’m glad I had the opportunity to witness the struggle and triumph of the coho salmon swimming upstream.
The entire month of November is prime viewing time for the salmon run. You can walk along the stream in the park and see the fish as they attempt to swim across pockets of water barely deep enough to cover half their bodies. They make heroic leaps to move from low pools of water to high pools, much to the delight of the kids gathered around the rails separating the spectators from natures arena. Who am I kidding. I was just as excited as the kids.
The process of swimming upstream is pretty tragic when you think about it. As we were cheering and offering words of encouragement to the fish we were able to lay eyes on today, they were busy moving closer to their demise. The female salmon were busy creating nests to lay their eggs while the male salmon were jockeying for the right to fertilize the eggs. I’m still reeling from all the excitement.
But the stream was also riddled with the carcasses of fish whose time had already come. What I witnessed in that stream today was natures circle of life. It was miraculous. It was marvelous. It was morbid. I can’t wait to see it again next year!