To most of us Northerners, muddy waters are to be avoided whenever possible. To Napa Valley Paddle owner Drew Dickson and the Resource Conservation District it is the most biologically diverse water in the Bay Area
I love mud. Most kids do. And when my Dad passed I spent many days on this water. When the water rolls away, mudflats are revealed and birds come alive, slurping up guppies stuck in muddy tide-pools. This is not chlorinated pool or crystal clear tap water void of life. This is where life begins again. Where saltwater and freshwater meet. The lungs of the Bay. A mixing zone for birds to nest and hunt from the sky when days grow short and waters clear, revealing schools of bait fish.
This tidal soup helps imagine the Dinosaur Era. Views of dormant volcanoes Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tamalpais and pterodactyl-like Blue Heron riding the wind . Prehistoric Sturgeon trolling Carquinez Strait. Old Monterey Bay Shipwrecks from an era when boats fished salmon and “Nappa” was a native american word meaning “fishing village.”
And there are volcanic valley’s to the north shaped by muddy waters. With roots that ebb and flow each growing season making the long journey down. Volcanic veins give passage to the water table below.
This mud breeds life. Dressed by waters that change color from rays of the sun. Shades of blue and brown, rich with tidal energy. We don’t consume it, we fish from it and spend our summers in it. Organic water filtered by roots and trees without chlorine; fresh and cold in the winter, salty and warm in the summer. Mysterious at low tide, brilliant at high tide. It lives a dynamic existence like people of the Bay Area. Blue when the sun is low, brown when the sun is high. And when we paddle for miles the sunlight dances with the breeze, sparkling on riffles ahead, nurturing our curiosity for what is to come around the next bend.
We are all visual beings. And sometimes what we view to be clean is dirty. And what seems dirty is actually full of life.
With a Perspective, I’m Andrew Dickson!
Andrew Dickson is the owner of Petaluma SUP and Napa Valley Paddle. He guides kayak & paddle board tours throughout the Northern Reaches of San Pablo Bay including the Napa River, Petaluma River and Carneros Wildlife Preserve.