A Walk at Maplewood Flats – Part I

Mudflats panorama

Panorama shot of the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area showing the wide mudflats at low tide.

A Story about Mud

Mud. Amorphous. Contradictory. It’s equally gross and disgusting, and equally the stuff of exclusive rejuvenating spa treatments. In nature mud forms a strange territory. It provides a  dark interface where the geosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere come together.

It’s a concept that’s easier to fall in love with in theory than in practice…

Maplewood Flats Mud

When the tide is out, a lifted rock reveals lug worm tracks through the mud at Maplewood Flats in British Columbia.

Land. Water. Life. Co-mingling in the muck.

When the above elements come together in the matrix of mud, things happen. Living things fall down into  mud and are broken down to to their inorganic form. And, at the same time, in the very same primordial ooze, that which is abiotic gets pulled back again into the humming cells of life once more. In this way, mud is also the substance of transformation from life into death and back again.  Even if you know a thing or two about biology, how life manages to sprout up again and again from the mire is one of the perennial mysteries. Like the lotus that rises up from the depths of the rank rank ooze at the bottom of a pond, the quintessential symbol of life making the best out of what we typically think of as garbage.

Mud is also the substance of story. And the keeper of secrets, which it reveals rarely, like the tale of an ancient man preserved in the peat thousands of years ago. You never know what you will find if you take the time to dig into the depths of a good section of mud.

This is a story that stems from a patch of mud in British Columbia, Canada that I decided to do some digging into.  Now called Maplewood Flats, this coastal mud patch was once part of a much larger network that apparently covered the shores of most of Burrard Inlet, but now, Maplewood Flats is the only remaining coastal wetland in the region.

And it almost wasn’t so.

This is the Part I of a longer story that I’ve broken down. Continue reading Part II...




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