Thunderstorms were intense and frequent during late spring and early summer, and the great river gathered the water together, rising steadily. The Mississippi River is inexorable when it swells, and nothing can be done but stand aside or go under. As it always does in times of flood, the river poured into Nahant Marsh.
Nahant Marsh is a safety valve of sorts, allowing a place for a huge amount of flood water to be held for a while, waiting for the river level to go back down in its own good time. The road to the marsh is under water during a major flood. The Education Center is sandbagged and the dock tied down before access is lost.
Nahant Marsh itself and the creatures who live there take no such flood preparations. But the marsh is resilient and fluctuating water levels are, in fact, part of the reason that wetlands are as productive as they are. As the flood passed, the high water mark illustrated clearly just how great the volume of water was.
After the flood, the broad, brown strip of once-under-water looks drear and dead. The leaves and greenery have been replaced by drying mud and slime. No doubt some did not survive the flood and were drowned. For those whose nests were not built above the crest of the water it was a cruel time with little chance of escape.
Still, the flood tolerant plants are already greening out, and all that water allowed water creatures to be very productive while it lasted. A great number of frogs and crawfish were born and thrived. After the flood hundreds of egrets came to the feast, joined by herons and rafts of pelicans scooping up fish.
The Mississippi river is back in its banks, and access is once again open for people to visit Nahant Marsh. As ever, no two years, no two seasons, no two days are ever alike, so be sure to pay attention. Whether in flood or in drought, there is always something beautiful and remarkable going on in this wetland environment.