BALD EAGLE, prey in talons, on a SEA-GREEN

American Bald Eagle
Dream of a Bald Eagle Eating Fish Found in Shallow Water
by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
June 17, 2000



SEA-GREEN designates more than color. A sea-green is a place, a place defined in the 1934 Webster as "land overflowed by the sea in spring tides." Years earlier, the American Encyclopedic Dictionary knew sea-greens as "ground overflowed by the sea in spring tides," as did the Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary. What distinguishes land from ground, landings from fishing grounds, why the subtle difference between land in the Webster and ground in the other definitions? The marsh realm through which Essay wanders is not a sea-green. Tides regularly overflow the marshes, turning the whole place into a vast expanse of sea, interrupted only by sea-marks and occasional islands. Actual sea-greens lie just barely inland, just beyond the innermost wrack-lines, just beyond the last clumps of beach rose and the perfumeless sea lavender. There, in spring tides and hurricanes, the ocean intrudes, its seasonal swampings creating and maintaining odd wetland ecosystems. If the greenhouse effect proves true and the ocean level rises, then politicians, highway engineers, biologists, real-estate developers, and others will pay much attention to the sea-greens becoming saltmarsh. But who will speak of sea-greens by name?

Read below for some final comments by Roy van de Hoek, naturalist at large in southern California:

I hope for the Bald Eagle to live at all the California coastal wetlands again. Catching their fish and scavenging on dead animals that see next to the SEA-GREENS. I hope to see Eagles landing on the SEA-GREENS with their prey in the talons, having foraged successfully in the nearby wetlands. The hope can turn to reality, if we preserve wetlands and SEA-GREENS.

The Wetlands Action Network and the Sierra Club has a plan for preserving the wetlands and SEA-GREENS.

NOTE: The quoted passage on sea-greens is from a book entitled Shallow Water Dicitonary by John R. Stilgoe. The subtitle is A Grounding in Estuary English. It is a beautiful book, ideal for any naturalist, wetlands activist, perhaps even for certain enlightened governmental bureaucrats with open minds. The book is published by Princeton Architectural Press and is just 43 pages. The author, John Stilgoe is the the Robert and Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard University. He is the author of several other books that I hope to read in the future sometime, such as Origins of the American Suburb, 1820-1939; Alongshore; Common Landscape of America, 1580-1845; Borderland. His passage on SEA-GREENS still has me spinning in my mind. I never learned in any of my biology and geography coursework, nor in any of my prolific scientific literature searches, about SEA-GREENS. I love the word. By the way, a final note: ESSAY is the name of John Stilgoe's watercraft. Should I get a kayak/canoe and call it ESSAY 2 and begin moving slowly in the still waters of the Ballona wetlands, Malibu Lagoon, Mugu Estuarine Lagoon, and other southern California wetlands? It's probably against the law to be in the wetlands listed above?

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