Salmon Migration

Last week Zarli and I visited the Salmon Hatchery in Issaquah and were treated with seeing the first returns of this year’s Chinook Salmon run. In the video you can see them jumping, but less well visible are the dozens of fish just hanging out in the water below the falls gathering strength for their turn.

We were a little discouraged at the lack of progress for these particular salmon until we got to join a tour and learn about how the hatchery manages the runs in order to promote the best possible conditions for spawning. It’s better in the long haul for the salmon to remain in the well oxygenated creek jumping vainly than to go up the hatchery ladder too soon and hang out too long in the less oxygenated tank. It was very interesting and exciting to get splashed by strong salmon hopping up the ladder.

But being around creatures that struggle so hard to go upstream just to spawn and die makes one philosophical, if one is of a philosophical bent, and it made me think of a poem I wrote a few years ago.

Migration
Falling and golden, the leaves and the light
As streaming below, silver streaks, bright.
The flick of a fin on a red taillight
And we swerve to join the flow.
Upstream with the crowd up 405
We’re worn and weary but still alive
Called by instinct, driven by drive
To pass on what we know.
We swam in the deep, in the blue, crazy sea
Gorging ourselves on modernity
When somewhere inside us rang mystery
and we knew it was time to go.
We each find the road that smells of our birth
Of the very first time we swam on earth
Aching to know in the end it was worth
This arduous journey home.
At night in our houses, we lie in the sand
Dreaming of everything else we had planned
And dying beginning to understand
The delicate seeds we sow.

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