The salmon run

It’s raining here today, the dark type of day that feels all too rare here because of our desperate need for rain. Whereas last year’s rainy season got off to a great start, this one has been slow so far. So I’m especially grateful for the rain and gray skies today.

Autumn means rain, and rain means clouds have come back, bringing more interesting sunrises and sunsets.

The sun sets along the river (with birds on a wire)

Fall trickled in here over the last few weeks, but this is the first week many of the trees decided to put on a show.

A tree blazes reddish orange at the fish hatchery.

The trees aren’t the biggest show in town, though, and as I mentioned in last week’s post, the fall salmon run is one of my absolute favorite parts of the season here.

The seagulls came in for the show early this year, hanging out on rocky bars in the river.

Ducks enjoy the salmon run, too.

A mallard guards its underwater prize (one of the icky sights of the salmon run for me).

A friend saw last week’s post and reminded me to visit a hatchery nearby. This has become an annual pilgrimage for me, but I’ll be honest: it fascinates and horrifies me in equal measure. Not the hatchery itself, of course, but what I witness when I’m visiting. I cannot ignore the reality that I am seeing these fish at the end of their lives. (It helps a bit to finish each visit by walking along the storage tanks where thousands of baby salmon live, waiting for release into wild waters.)

Gates span the river to lead the fish into the hatchery.

Gulls stand sentinel on the fish gates.

The ladders into the hatchery aren’t always open, but the salmon on the outside desperately want in, leaping and flinging themselves against the closed gate to the ladders.

They are ready to make this final part of their journey up the ladders.

A salmon “climbs” the ladders.

Just as the birds gather, school children, tourists, and even locals flock here to watch the salmon make their way up the ladders. We listen for the tell-tale splash and then try to follow a particular salmon on its way up toward the hatchery.

At some point during each of my visits, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final words of The Great Gatsby start to roll through my mind:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Maybe that’s where these salmon have it better than humans. They’re beating ceaselessly against the current, but they aren’t weighed down by their past. They’re preparing for the future, and for their future generations.

Do any animals put on a fall show where you live? If you live near here, do you enjoy visiting the hatchery at this time of year?

2 thoughts on “The salmon run

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