|The frosty leaves of Silverweed (Argentina egedii)|
Five years ago Nancy Turner got me excited about Silverweed while discussing a potential research project for my Master’s Degree that would involve close work with Kwaxsistalla, a Kwakwaka’wakw elder and Clan Chief. Before moving to Victoria, I searched around Bellingham for a place to experiment with Silverweed and found it growing in the Chuckanut Village salt marsh.
|Silverweed roots resting on my digging stick|
|At work in an estuarine salt marsh|
I wanted to show Katrina one of the places that Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana) still grow so we went further around Mud Bay to Woodstock Farm. A few Garry Oaks cling, desperate for sunlight, to the rocky shore of the bay. I recalled how I recently learned from a Lummi woman that their word for the Chuckanut Mountains means “fires in a line.” Perhaps the name is an indication of an Aboriginal fire history that would have favored Garry Oaks over the now dominant Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). A few pit house depressions and a shell midden exposure around the root ball of a wind-thrown Fir were further evidence of the previous productivity of Mud Bay. It is easy to see the destructive nature of clear-cut logging, but what of the destructive nature of human inactivity…. Fire suppression and fallow gardens choke the biodiversity of this place.